By Janneke “The Tron Mom” Grandstein
Sometimes telling the story changes the story. Folks, this story is not over!
Notes from the Tron Mom:
Feb 4: Parenting Paradox
Yesterday my kids had a snow day, so they stayed home from school. We were now two weeks into my race against my boys, for the Zwift Tron bike. I had been ridiculously busy at work, and I realized that this free day would give them ample opportunity to gain on me, which they needed to do. I had a substantial head start of almost 10,000m elevation when they challenged me, and I was still about that far ahead!
But as my husband and I got ready for work, the teens showed no inclination to jump on their bikes. In fact, they only opened their eyes long enough to register that there was no school. All three fell right back asleep. I felt a confusing mix of anxiety that they’d climb Mount Everest and past me and panic that they’d stay in bed all day. Parenting is so weird.
Feb 11: The Women in My Life Get It
It is 9 am Saturday, and I just rode with a mom-friend, whom I recently introduced to Zwift. While my teens were – you guessed it – fast asleep – her little girls sat on the floor in their pajamas, watching our progress and admiring their athletic mother. The oldest even drew a picture of us biking. Here it is:
I have another friend that I also recently introduced to Zwift: a surgeon. She and I used to run or swim, but lately, we have been biking together in the early mornings before we head to the hospital.
These two mothers are my accomplices in my new race for the Tron bike. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t know that there are flat routes on Zwift.
Feb 14: Flattening Out My Efforts
When we started with this challenge, I was so excited that I bought a bigger bike for my growing boys. I spent every free moment trying to get meters to impress them. In one week, I biked 2,118m of elevation, and my sons almost beat me with 1813m!
They were also so excited and keen! They each did a super hard ride, and I was so proud: Legends and Lava, Road to the Sky, Ven-Top!
Unfortunately, once they each rode a super-hill, they lost interest. They may have realized that achieving the 50,000 meters of ascent that would win them the Tron bike would mean doing those rides 100 times.
The Family, otherwise known as The Cast of Characters
The Sigtryggsson family includes Gisli Sigtryggsson, the household rock and stay-at-home dad for 17 years. He is now a busy shipping clerk in the food services industry, and his hobbies include board games and pickleball.
His wife, Janneke Gradstein (That’s ME), is a family physician with a busy and varied practice in Amherst, Nova Scotia (Canada), where she and Gisli have been living since she finished her training. She enjoys running, biking, and community development work. They have three sons: Oskar (2005), Tomas (2006), and Peter (2010).
Oskar is athletic, conscientious, kind, and hard-working. He enjoys running and learning about math, chemistry, and space travel, and you can often see him watching YouTube videos about those and other STEM topics.
Tomas is the tall, handsome middleman of the herd. He is a brooding introvert with a razor-sharp intellect who says very little but doesn’t miss a beat. Tomas is interested in psychology and ridiculously complex strategy games.
Peter is the joyful, empathetic, and idealistic youngest whose sheer grit and passion for friends and fun mean he’s involved in as many things as he can squeeze into a day.
The whole family collaborates to participate in Baha’i children’s classes and youth groups every week. They also enjoy camping, hiking together, and, more recently—Zwifting!
Feb 19: Despair
These last two weeks, they have just done little rides here and there. The old laptop by the bikes has been eagerly on 24/7, in case a bored teen should happen to skulk by and suddenly feel the urge to hop on the bike and climb a mountain. But most rides were done with reminders, encouragement, and even some threats and bribery. And despite that, they barely squeaked out 1,000m of elevation.
A couple of weeks ago, I wondered if I should ride flat for a while and let them catch up. Maybe the thrill of being the leader – or almost in the lead – would reignite the tiny spark of the man-herd competitive spirit. Apparently, I had drowned that little spark entirely with my flood of enthusiasm.
I scaled back my efforts and rode flatter. My husband started riding more to add to their progress. Today I took stock of the effects: I only scaled 724m and only increased from 34% to 35% of the Mt Everest Challenge. And the boys? They gained only 606m of elevation and are now over 11,000m behind me.
So, despite my best efforts to do very little, I still made more progress than all the boys combined. I felt sad and discouraged. Instead of starting my Sunday ride, I turned off the old computer by the bikes, laced up my sneakers, and went for a run in the February sunset instead.
Feb 21: A Glimmer of Hope
Sometimes telling the story changes the story. The race for the Tron started with a casual conversation at the dinner table. The kids thought it was funny, my husband joined “their side,” and we started exploring the game together. I jumped at the chance to share a common interest with my salty teenagers.
And then, as quickly as the family camaraderie seemed to come together, the opportunity slipped between my fingers (more like my iron-clad throttle hold), and my skittish man-herd fled for the hills. And when I say running to the mountains, unfortunately, I don’t mean Zwift hills.
But, sometimes, telling the story changes the story. I reminded my kids of this. “We started this blog,” I said. “So many people are reading about you! Let me read to you about your progress.” I should have done that sooner!
Here’s my oldest son riding Ven-top, trying to beat his younger brother.
Folks, this story is not over.
Any words of advice or encouragement for the Tron Mom or her Man-herd?
Comment below! They’d love to know
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, Endurance.biz, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!