The Paytons

Having just returned from another family holiday cycling Young Kevin races around the Yorkshire Dales, I’m trying to reflect on our secrets to life as a cycling family, as I was asked to do by Maggie some weeks ago.
I’m writing on behalf of the four of us – Kevin is out riding the Elineth 300k audax for the tenth year running and Tom and Hannah are preparing for tomorrows mountain bike race.

I came from a cycling family, both parents have always cycled until unfortunately Mum’s cycling came to an abrupt halt when she had a stroke at the Young Kevin time trialling age of sixty, but they have both continued to take a keen interest in the sport especially what the children were up to. One clear memory is of the local newspaper doing an article on the Bromley cycling family being out in the lanes pedalling every weekend. That was printed in 1974; I still have a copy of the five of us in all our kit on the front lawn at home. My dad has always been a keen organiser and time keeper for many, many cycling events. We were always encouraged to ride; in fact my first time trial was on the old K20 at Hagley when I was eleven with my Mum standing on the island to make sure I got round safely!! All five of us were regularly racing during the eighties. At 16 I joined The Western Section CTC and started doing regular club runs and weekends away, Young Sue time triallingKevin was a member too. He was also a member of Stourbridge CC from 1974. Bryan Hedges took him out on his first club run at the age of fourteen.  My family were Oldbury and District members. We both trained and rode together for many long distance touring events 240 in 24 being our longest regular annual event. At the same time we were well known on the time trial scene, competing regularly in open and club events and travelling all over to get better times. We never lost our touring roots though and always enjoyed getting away as often as possible never without the bikes, often from home with a YHA card and saddle bag-real tourists.

We got married in 1985, nothing changed really, still training and racing hard, oh- but we bought a tandem, we didn’t have much money but a tandem seemed important for a happy marriage. Tom arrived in 1990; cycling was so much a part of our lives and we just expected him to become a part of it too. As soon as we were confident he could sit comfortably, we put him in a seat on the back of my bike. Kevin and TomSue and Hannah

He was eight months old and we were at the Builth Wells Cycling Rally, he loved it. From then on he was a regular, often three on the tandem. When he was four Hannah needed the seat and so Kevin put kiddy cranks on to the tandem and Tom was hooked for life! He raced at the age of 4 round Lake Tom & HannahVrnwy, that typical Tom position was already evident. Hannah was happy to sit behind me and we did miles and miles-up and down the Severn valley watching the trains, out to see the aircraft at Cosford, always child friendly. Kev and I had always been members of the Tandem Club and so in pursuit of similar minded families to ride with we tried one of their rallies and never looked back. That was when our international trips began and my dream seeds were set.

HannahMy dream was to put both children onto Longstaff tandems and tour the continent. My dream became a reality and with the Tandem club we enjoyed very many trips abroad on our Longstaff tandems over much of the continent. The children grew up with like-minded children from all over the country seeing them three or four times a year to cycle and enjoy! I was keen that the children should have other experiences too; we joined the Triathlon Club, so that we could swim and run. I was a keen runner and ran a few marathons at that time and really enjoyed this chapter in our lives. Kevin did some coaching and we had some good successes competitively too. They were also both having music lessons and were both members of local wind bands. I didn’t want them to only know cycling.

I think children need to be competitive to experience the buzz of being good and doing well. I never felt they could safely do anything on the road competitively and so we turned to track at Halesowen and the free wheelers competition in summer and then to cyclo-cross in winter. They both loved the mud and so Kevin tried it too! With Isla and Louise’s enthusiasm everyone was smitten. (I try to be enthusiastic but still miss my winter club runs when I’m powering the jet wash and hosing down!) And so that’s how they grew up and I suppose now they’re both young adults who are prolific riders in their own right-where did the years go as they say!! Tom is even working in the trade.

They are now both well known on the national cyclo-cross scene having both had very successful years. Tom started off by winning the Three Peaks Cyclo cross in his category taking the under 23 course record, a fantastic Hannah leads the cyclo-cross fieldachievement, he then went on to win the National cyclo-cross series in the under 23 category. His season ended in disappointment in the National Champs when he failed to finish. It had been a long season, he’d ridden twenty one events and the postponement of the championship due to inclement weather had made it difficult to maintain fitness. However Hannah was a star and came second on the day only missing the title by half a wheel, she’d been on the podium at most events she’d ridden and that’s what it’s all about really, the highs and lows of good sportsmanship.

Time management is crucial, for training, working, studying and for Hannah to rehearse for her music which is equally important to her. This winter saw the three of them leaving the house on a number of occasions at 5am in the morning for Tom to ride to Ludlow and Kevin and Hannah to accompany him part way! This enabled Hannah to attend band rehearsals in the evening; she plays in two bands.
We continue to ride regularly as a family and have attended the Semaine Federal Cycle touring week in France each year where we get a week’s worth of really good touring miles and a good holiday.The French are passionate about the sport and know how to have a good time. This year will be our tenth. We always go to York Rally and Mildenhall every year, just because they’re great social events with our kind of people. Most of our holidays have been cycling, a few walking and some skiing. Cycling is our common interest, it’s just what we do together.
Getting involved in the coaching has been something Kevin has really enjoyed and it has given him a chance to put something back into the sport. It is fun, challenging and rewarding  too. Tom is also keen to get involved.
I don’t think we ever set out to make champions out of the children or had great ambition for them although I’m sure they have their own goals now. We wanted them to be fit, outdoor people, who respected their bodies and the environment and had an inter – generational respect. I love it out on club runs when they can chat in a likeminded fashion to those septuagenarians we all aspire to. There is real purpose to their leisure time and that’s how to enjoy life.

Tom wins National SeriesHannah's silver medal

Sue Payton, June 2010
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