It’s no massive revelation becoming a father. It’s been happening since the beginning of mankind but its impact on individual’s lives is quite frankly, as we’re constantly being told, a life changing event. On one level it’s like having a permanent guest coming to stay. Everything that you once held sacred and which had a value greater than material wealth, has now been cast aside, downgraded, your life becomes an altered state, one that is occupied by a plus one. Your time is no longer your own and spare time just doesn’t exist.
During the early stages of parenthood very few can honestly say that cycling as an activity can truly exist in their lives. What once had its place in your routine will now be taken over by a new presence, a new demand on your time. But with this comes other non-cycle friendly factors - things that destroy your concentration, your eating patterns and ultimately the way you function on a daily basis.
By far the worst casualty with the most impact with the arrival of any newborn is lack of sleep. It doesn’t matter what age you are, although older parents will suffer worst, the effects of sleep deprivation will reduce anyone to a zombiefied half-life state: an existence in the shadow of your former self. Sleep becomes a thing of the past and you have to re-educate both mind, body (and life) to accommodate for it - or lack of it. You’ll learn to survive on three hours of undisturbed slumber instead of the recommended eight.
For the next few months the front room sofa becomes your bed - it’s the only way you’re going to reasonably function at work. The term ‘Baby Brain’ does exist and has a massive effect on all new parents. Your physical environment also gets violated. What was once unused floor space has now become home to playpen or an infant rocking chair. Where you once were able to leave kit out for an early morning ride, that space has now gone - it just doesn’t exist anymore.
When Ian Curtis wrote ‘When routine bites hard and ambitions are low’, the lyrics from Joy Division’s ‘Love will tear us apart’, he could have been describing the early days of parenthood. Any routine you have will disappear for several months until you establish a new baby-friendly one. Timescales will totally alter, you'll find yourself becoming nocturnal in order to fit everything into a day.
But what in effect is happening is the cycle of life. In the not-to-distant future you’re be teaching your son or daughter how to ride a bike in the same fashion your father handed that skill on to you. The rotation of life, generation on generation, this ritual is at the very core of what we do - how we get introduced to cycling. What you’ve temporarily lost will blossom again but this time round you won’t be alone, you’ll have your own flesh and blood cycling buddy. For Eddy think Axel, for Stephen think Nico, the list is endless but who will your son or daughter become?
It’s the past looking back at you. You’ll experience for yourself the joy and pride your father felt when he handed on the gift of balance and movement called cycling. Now you’re in charge of that next generation of cyclists in your family but remember we’re all individuals, don’t force your passion and addiction on a youngster who’s growing up in a totally different world to the one you experienced as a child. Cycling may come later in life for them or not figure in it at all. Your mission is to plant the seed and then step back and see what happens next. You may be nurturing the next Froome, Cavendish, Wiggins, Armistead, Trott or Barnes.
What you may lose today will be repaid ten fold in the years to come so you should embrace and enjoy every aspect of it while you can.