Rider spotlight: Getting fit and healthy is a family affair

Lauren (14), Heather, Tim and Grant (11) Irey at the STP finish

For the Irey family, getting healthy and fit has been a family affair. Together, they've logged hundreds of miles, changed their nutrition and discovered an active and fun way to spend time as a family.  This July, their efforts culminated in riding the 2013 Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.

“Five years ago my wife and I decided to lose weight, get healthy, purchase some bikes, start to exercise and change our life,” said Grant’s father, Tim. “I took to the cycling like a fish to water and decided to ride the STP with some friends from work.  The past three years I have ridden the one-day event,  and  was thinking this year would be similar.”

But I when the time came to register, his wife and kids, Lauren (14) and Grant (11), said they wanted in on the fun, too!

So in late February, the family of four started training.

“We tried to follow the training schedule for the two-day event that Cascade puts forth so that we could be fully prepared for the big event,” said Tim. “We rode both days on 95 percent of the weekends [leading up to STP] and we almost always were able to get at least one mid-week ride on the books.  We rode rain or shine and virtually never had a complaint.”

“In the beginning there was lots of wonderment about how it would ever be possible,” continued Tim. ”But, just like the training schedule suggests, if you follow the program you will be ready!”

"The family knows, especially the kids, that they accomplished something that very few people would even consider."

Tim said riding parts of the course in preparation of the event was  also helpful, not only to spend time in the saddle and gain fitness but for everyone to get a feel of what to expect.

“I think preparing by riding the early part of the route was a huge help to the family.  It made the opening day feel much more comfortable when it wasn’t totally light yet and with 10,000 of your new cycling friends all going the same direction.”

When the big day came, the excitement was overwhelming, said Tim, but they were all well-prepared.

“We stayed together as a family during the ride in a spread out pace line of four.  We suffered only one flat tire as a group and enjoyed the ride along the way.”

The Irey family finished the 204-mile ride on Day 2 around 5:45 p.m. to cheering a crowd of cheering supporters, and a great sense of accomplishment and pride.

“It certainly had its moments of stress and strain, but looking back the family knows, especially the kids, that they accomplished something that very few people would even consider,” said Tim, adding that there aren’t many 11- and 14-year-olds who  can say they’ve finished back-to-back centuries.

“We couldn’t be more proud of our kids for their accomplishment and even more so for their decision to commit to something unknown.  To work so diligently by giving up their time to ride and train; and not only the riding part but to change their nutrition, to prepare by getting all the gear ready,  to learn bike maintenance and safety, and above all, to be healthy and fit as a family.”


Want to see who else rode STP? Find more rider spotlights, here.