Earlier this year, I met Jamie Axt out on the Noon Ride. In what’s often a male dominated sport, Jamie and a few other ladies regularly mix it up on this fast Group Ride. I noticed a trailer hitch skewer on her rear wheel one day (which I also rock) and asked about it. Turns out, Jamie is a new mom and we quickly got to talking about what it’s like to balance family, work, life, and a new baby. My own little guy is now almost 3 years old and remember well those early months of his life and my struggle to find balance. Maybe you know the experience. Because Jamie is regular on the Noon Ride, I thought I’d pick her brain about how she fits it all in and maintains some balance in her life. Jamie agreed to share some of her wisdom with us here:
How did you get involved in cycling?
I’ve always loved riding a bike, for as long as I can remember. In high school, my neighbor and I would ride around Campbell & Los Gatos on our 10 speeds, for fun and to get a workout. In college, I used a bike to get around on campus at UCSC, which is quite hilly, and spread out. The first big ride I went on was with a borrowed race bike, a borrowed chamois (ewwwww!) and some tennis shoes. Four guy friends who raced at the time took me on some pretty substantial climbs near the UCSC campus, and it was such an eye-opener for me. I loved the challenge, I loved the mountains, and I loved the speed of descending back down to the coast after we’d crested the top. I was instantly hooked. I immediately bought a used bike, helmet and shoes and started exploring the roads and trails around Santa Cruz. I did my first road race in 1999 and raced for some years on & off, but really enjoyed the riding, training, and camaraderie more than I liked racing.
What do you like most about cycling?
Riding is so many things to me, it’s hard to pick one thing that I love the most. It’s such a great way to clear my mind and really just focus on my senses. It is the only way I feel I can leave work, chores, and everything else behind and really just be. It’s calming, rhythmic, and can be really intense. I’ve thought through so many things on the bike, and I’ve also just left the thinking behind altogether, and let myself relax. Of course, I love the social aspect too. I’ve made so many great friends through cycling, and riding gives me the chance to connect with friends and meet new people. A ride can either be calming, quiet, and relaxing or fun, social, and intense…whatever is needed at the time.
How do you find balance with a new baby, work, family, and finding time to ride?
Whew, that’s a tough one. Each time Steve & I feel like we find a routine with Elyse…boom, something changes and life gets shuffled again. We love the ever-changing landscape of enjoying life with a new baby, and try to keep a sense of humor about it. We both know that once the laughter is gone, we are in bad shape. We both need our workouts in order to be better partners, parents, and people in general, so we really try to honor that for each other. Family comes first in all cases, but we try to carve out some personal time for each other in each busy day. Day-to-day life during a typical work week feels a lot like a sprint relay, divvying up the responsibilities of work, household, and caring for Elyse. We make it a goal to sit down for dinner together each night, which is a lot more fun now that Elyse can sit at the table with us and amuse us with her new-found pleasure of enjoying finger foods (and sharing them with our dog, Sierra.) Saturdays, we often divide the day so we both get a ride. Sundays, we typically spend as a ‘family day,’ doing some outdoor activity together. We’d love to continue to show Elyse the joys of moving through the outdoors.
Any Group Ride tips for folks looking to get out there and jump in a group?
Relax as much as possible, while staying as alert as much as possible! In every group, there are good wheels to follow, and it doesn’t take long to figure out which those are.
What are some of your goals this year for riding/training/racing?
I’m in the ‘just have fun’ mode of riding these days. It’s such an escape for me, and I appreciate that aspect more than ever. Part of having fun is being somewhat fit, and able to hang in the group rides, so with fun comes some intensity, which I also love. I hope to get out on some longer rides in the coming months, out to the coast or possibly get up to the Sierra’s for some riding…if the snow ever melts!
Thanks for your wisdom Jamie and best of luck for a great summer of family time and riding!