We caught up with Rhys and Tydeman to explore what the bicycle means to them as father and son.
R: I’m Rhys. I’m Welsh, I live in Los Angeles. I’m married to Naomi, father to Tydeman, Jones and Poppy. I’m a designer, frustrated artist - I’d like to draw for a living - and I’m Co-Founder of OMATA. We’re making the first analog GPS cycling computer.
T: My name is Tydeman Newman, I’m 16 years old and I like to ride bikes a lot. Born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. I’m a full time student and cyclist and have been riding bikes for longer than I can remember.
How did cycling come to be a family activity?
R: My parents bought me a Raleigh Arena for my 12th birthday. We used to race up the hills to Caerphilly from Cardiff where I grew up. I eventually put knobby tires on it, turned the drop handle bars upside down, called it a tracker bike and eventually taco’d the wheels riding it off road. When we arrived in California I started racing in the Kenda Cup MTB series and also - and increasingly - endurance races like the 24hrs of Adrenaline and 24hrs of Old Pueblo. Naomi was involved in triathlon. When the children started elementary school, we used to all ride to school on bikes, and then I’d commute on to work. So I suppose they had no choice, at least when they were young. They seem to have developed opinions now they are teenagers.
T: I rode my first bike without training wheels somewhere around 2 years old. I’ve played baseball and soccer and loads of other sports but riding has always been something special to me. Whether I’m constantly training for races or just out spinning, I’ve always been drawn to the sense of freedom you get. It’s so amazing that you can just disappear and be on a total adventure even if you’re on the local loop you do each week.
Recount your favorite riding experience together.
R: We spend lots of weekends on the road, camping and traveling for Tydeman’s NICA Races, Nationals, and events where we both participate like Grinduro, Downieville, and 24hr races . It’s not just one ride that’s memorably specifically - although we once got really f&*%*g lost in Utah when Tydeman was about 7 years old, where we ran out of food, water, etc and there was no cell coverage. Not a high point in my responsible parenting! I’m just very aware that this time will pass really quickly, and while it feels a real blur at the moment, just having a shared passion in bikes and riding is pretty amazing really.
T: In general, the fact that I get to go to all these amazing races in some of the coolest places in the world and have my dad pedaling alongside me is something I would never trade. Ever since I was a little kid my dad has always been going on rides with me and it’s so awesome that we get to share something that is so close to both of our hearts. Every time we go out for a ride, whether it’s a 10 mile recovery spin or a 100 mile monster ride, it is always a super special moment.
T: When I first started riding a bike, I’d always dreamed of being one of those guys on the TV racing their bike. If it was the Tour de France or the MTB World Cup, I’d always dreamed of being a pro. Over the last year or two, I’ve started to realize that if I put in the work maybe that dream of being a pro isn’t too far way. It has gone from being a dream to a goal that with lots of hard work, I could possibly achieve. But most of all, I just want to keep riding my bike and loving every minute of it. That’s the most important thing. You could offer me to be the fastest guy in the world but not love riding, I wouldn’t take it. Having fun and enjoying pedaling is the most important thing to me.
What do you admire about one another?
T: I’ve always admired my dad’s way of knowing how to get me to work harder. At cyclocross nationals last year, we were watching the single speed race and there was some dude heckling near us and shouting the funniest things. One line that just stuck was “PARTICIPATE HARDER!” Often in races my dad will somehow find his way to the spot where the break is about to go and there he is shouting “PARTICIPATE HARDER!”. There have been times where I was dying, heart rate through the roof but my dad shouts that line and can’t help but laugh and dig a little deeper. It is that little thing that just makes me laugh and realize “who cares, just go harder and have fun!”.
R: His lovely hair. Oh that’s not a trait……Erm. Lovely long hair.
Tydeman, what lessons from your father do you carry with you?
T: Often you see little league parents shouting at their kids to work more/harder but with my dad, it’s all positive encouragement. Whether it’s being told to make a more healthy decision at lunch or heckling me at a race to push harder when I don’t have an ounce of strength left, he’s always made me a stronger person.
Remember that there is always someone faster than you. Some may see this as a somewhat negative lesson but it’s really helped me. Even when you’ve won every single race you’ve entered, there’s always someone who could show up and beat you. This has kept me super humble which is something that I value.
T: Ever since I was a tiny kid, I’d always looked at the pros on the most expensive bikes and said, “I want to ride that bike”. But thanks to my dad, I’ve learnt that you don’t need all that extra stuff to win. It’s not about how much you own or how bling your bike is; you have to work hard and then when you actually need that extra stuff because you’re racing at that level, it will come.