Dad Bod: Uberparents

Words and illustration by Stephen Haynes

What’s the goal of being a parent? To see your kids get the basic tools they need to go off and try to succeed in life? What about your goals as a cyclist? To crush your personal best on Strava while commuting to work? Ask a hundred people these questions and you may well get a hundred different answers. What’s always fascinated and beguiled me is the inherent competition between both parents and cyclists when talking to other parents and cyclists, like there’s some abacus wielding surveyor tallying up all your notable contributions to both pursuits.

I’d grade my performance as a parent at about a C+ or B-; Proficient, with some room for improvement. I love my kids dearly, but the mental and physical energy it takes to parent is beyond explanation, and sometimes pizza and television is the break we all need from one another. I feel the same way about cycling. Yes, I love riding bikes, but I’d prefer to do a 4-mile ride to and from the grocery store than a 40-mile gravel ride any day of the week. Hell, I’d prefer to eat pizza than do either of those if I’m honest.

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Of course there are parents and cyclists who are the inverse of me; the yin to my cynical yang and I often succumb to idyll worship when in the presence of such uber-specimens. I can quickly feel like a lesser being when engaging in casual conversations with these folks, as the one-upmanship game goes on unabated. “Oh, your Jimmy is taking swim lessons? That great, my daughter just got her green belt in Krav Maga.” “Oh, you rode 10 miles yesterday? Good for you! I did a century before work this morning.” The underlying statement of course being “I’m better than you.”

Perhaps it’s my insecurity talking but sometimes I feel like I’m failing my kids because they aren’t getting MENSA-like scores on standardized tests, taking orienteering courses, or learning how to field dress a bull moose. Especially when the uber-parents’ children are doing these things and more. Instagram updates showing their prodigal sons and daughters topping out on their first solo-lead climb, Facebook posts proclaiming their little geniuses won the statewide spelling bee, Tweets announcing to the world that their beloved mini-me’s asked for a second helping of kale! It’s all too much, and it’s also a trap.

Being a good parent, in my opinion, means knowing when and where to push your kids. Similarly, being a good cyclist is based on pursuing what interests you about cycling. Both require you to foster the interest and bolster the effort with encouragement and, at times, tough love. The uber-parents and uber-cyclists of the world are a myth perpetuated by ourselves. Love what you do, love your kids and go enjoy both with the time you have. Also, eat more pizza.

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Clif Bar introduces new Organic Energy Foods, including pizza flavor

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Clif Bar knows as well as anyone that sometimes during or after a long ride, what you really want isn’t some kind of over-processed, synthetic goo, but real food. That’s the motivation behind its new Organic Energy Food series. The idea is to “take more of a Mother Nature approach to sports nutrition and get the nutrients you need from ingredients we all recognize,” said Chris Randall, Clif Bar’s senior brand manager.

The food comes in small, resealable pouches that make it easier to consume partially and then stash for later. The texture is more of a puree with small chunks for texture rather than the consistent goo found in energy gel packs.

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The two sweet flavors come in 90 gram servings and are aimed at more intense activities with a higher carbohydrate component. The nutrition you receive is not too far off what’d you’d expect from an energy gel, but the texture and flavor is much different. The flavors available at launch are banana/mango/coconut and banana/beet/ginger. They will retail for $2.29.

What will likely get most of the attention is the new savory flavors. Ask anyone what kind of food they really want a few hours into a long ride and it’s usually something salty and savory. Clif Bar uses sunflower seed butter for a hit of protein and fat with less emphasis on carbohydrates. They have a notably salty taste thanks to the 550-600 grams of sodium included to replenish your body.

The sweet potato with sea salt flavor is a riff on the classic aide-station food of boiled potatoes rolled in salt, a popular item because of its neutral flavor and high sodium content. The pizza flavor was inspired by input from Clif Bar athletes, who craved a slice during long events. Rather than simply smash the ingredients into a tube though, the bread flavor is from quinoa flakes and the cheese taste is from yeast flakes. There is no cheese, dairy or wheat in the pizza flavor at all. The savory flavors are 120 grams per pouch and will retail for $2.99.

The new Organic Energy Food products are 100 percent certified USDA Organic, gluten-free and vegan. Don’t expect to see them in your local grocery store though, they will be sold only through specialty retailers (like bikes shops) and outdoors stores like REI.

Why not just make a solid food version? When asked, Randall pointed out that the soft food is far easier to eat during activity, especially for runners, and is digested and absorbed more quickly as well.

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If you sticking to solid foods though, Clif Bar is rolling out some new flavors: berry pomegranate chia and nuts and seeds. Both have all the nutrition you’d find in classic Clif Bars but keep things fresh after your ten thousandth peanut butter bar.

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Una Pizza Bike Show 2014

Avid bicyclist and pizza maker Anthony Mangieri has teamed up with Soulcraft Cycles once again to host its (almost) annual Una Pizza Bike Show in San Francisco on Sunday, December 14.

This will be the third show at Una Pizza since March 2011. Soulcraft owner Sean Walling and Mangieri decided a Bay Area event would be ideal to gather some of the world’s best independent frame builders, and the call was answered by peers: Brent Steelman, Jeremy Sycip, Steve Potts, Bruce Gordon, Paul Sadoff (Rock Lobster) and more.

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Admission is $10, which gives you all the pizza you can handle, plus access to the builders, who will be displaying their latest work in an industrial setting. Half the proceeds will go to access4bikes.com, the Marin County trail advocacy group.

Here’s our report from the last event. Saddle up and head to the SOMA District; there will be free bike parking!

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