Don Catlin on the road, racing for the same team as his son, NIck. Photo Courtesy of the Catlins
For Father’s Day, we wanted to take a second to give a shout-out to all the cyclocross and cycling fathers (mothers too!) out there who have taken the time to help their child (or grown adult) experience the joys of riding or racing a bike. After all, without Cyclocross Magazine’s Chief Cowbell Ringer Andrew Yee’s still-cycling father madly searching for affordable used kid’s bikes for him, converting his little 22″ wheel road bike to a track bike on a weekly basis, and literally pushing him up hills on family rides, there’s no way Cyclocross Magazine would exist today (read more about the background story via CXhairs’ interview). CXM’s Online gal Molly also credits her father with her early and recent cycling addiction. And so as a further tribute to Father’s Day, we take a look at a cyclocross-racing father and son, Donald and Nick Catlin. This father and son travel together for road and cyclocross season, even sleeping in a tent on top of their SUV together! Clearly, these two are close, and we wanted to hear from this dynamic duo about how they really feel about their close-knit relationship. Nick took a few minutes to chat with us, with father Donald chiming in and offering his two cents on their relationship and their racing.
by Molly Hurford
Cyclocross Magazine: When did you both start riding?
Nick Catlin: I started riding at age five, on a small little bike with training wheels, and my dad started racing in 1978. I started racing at age seven.
CXM: What got you into cyclocross?
NC: My dad got me into cycling because he grew up on the bike. My dad is responsible for getting me into cyclocross, it happened because he was off of work one fall day and a buddy named Matt Snow told him to go to Gloucester, Massachusetts and do this race. The rest is history.
CXM: You guys have been doing a whole lot of traveling to races, and now you even have the above-car tent! Is traveling together always fun?
NC: Traveling together is always fun, we joke around and call each other names and have a good time in the hotel and before races. The best part (my dad says) is that he gets to watch me develop and race, and he finds it motivating for himself, so he wants to work harder. Plus, I know I always get bottles in the feed zone and a pit worker when he is available!
CXM: Nick- how do you balance school and racing? Does your dad help with that?
NC: I try to balance school and racing as best as I can, but it’s definitely not easy. Sometimes when school and racing clash, it can cause a few speed bumps with my dad, we got into a few fights and I even took a lot of time off the bike this past semester.
CXM: What are your fall goals?
Nick Catlin in the Capital Region Road Race. Photo Courtesy of the Catlins.
DC: My fall goals include returning stronger than I was before my heart attack and losing some weight, enough to become top 25 in Gloucester.
NC: My fall goals are to win at least one race with people equal to my level or better, in order to challenge myself.
CXM: Do you train together?
NC: We train together whenever I get around to training! I have been racing significantly better and harder since I stopped riding as much. The biggest disagreement we have had for cycling was when I thought that I was finished with the sport. I had almost had enough. I took nearly two months off the bike and felt like crap the whole time. He tried to get me to train but I just couldn’t find the motivation to get on the bike and just pedal away for two hours. Thankfully, I remembered why I love this sport and now I’m back to training again!
CXM: Who gives who advice? Or do you both offer advice?
NC: We both offer advice, but his advice is more about technique, mine is more just telling him when he’s being silly.
CXM: Who’s the better racer?
NC: Sitting here doing this interview, we just went through an argument about who is the better racer, and I won because of my result in nationals.
CXM: Nick, do you think it helps having your dad there for you in the pit and cheering you on?
NC: I think its great having my dad there for me in the pit and cheering me on, telling me how many more laps, reminding me to drink (if i have a bottle) and telling me to go harder and who’s up the road.
CXM: What race are you looking forward to the most this year?
DC: The very first ’cross race we can find.
NC: I’m looking forward to every ’cross race, none in particular; they all have their positives and negatives and every one is different.
CXM: Nick, any Father’s Day wishes for your dad?
NC: I hope he has a great day and had a good birthday, and that he has a great day tomorrow at my race.
CXM: What’s a perfect race day for you two?
NC: In general, during cyclocross season, Sunday is usually better then Saturday because of it being the second race day, so our legs feel fresher and we know the course better then before.
CXM: You spend way more time together than most fathers and teenage sons do- do you have any advice for how dads/teenagers can stay on friendly terms while spending so much time in close quarters?
NC: Spend a lot of time with your son/dad. We talk on very friendly terms, we call each other names and joke around, and now we have a new addition to the crew: our puppy! [Ed. Note: the puppy is adorable.] To get closer to your son or dad, you have to find an activity you both enjoy and do it a lot. It will make your relationship with him much tighter and you will have a much better experience around them.
CXM: Do you think that you two motivate each other to do better in races?
NC: For sure, we definitely motivate each other, because whoever has the better result gets the shower first!