I know people who hope their kids will work with them one day and take over the family business when they are older. I’m all for building successful businesses that can thrive through the stewardship of a single family over several generations. Unfortunately the plan to have kids join the family business too often comes after a busy entrepreneur realizes that he  should have spent more time and done more things with his children when they were young. Don’t wait until your kids are old enough to work to spend time with them. Help them build the right work ethics when they are young. The younger they learn discipline, commitment, how it feels to lose, how to deal with adversity and disappointment and knowing that hard work pays off the better off they will be when they enter the workforce or start a family.

In our home, the family business is competitive sports, downhill skiing and now cycling.

Last Sunday was a big day for the Lambert’s family business. Gaby, Alex and I had planned on each racing the Grand Prix de Ste Martine bike race in our individual categories. Once we got there we quickly had to adjust to adverse conditions, focus on getting the job done and deliver stellar results. I knew I had great kids all around but on that day two of them brought this to a whole new level: “They dealt with adversity better than a lot of adults I know.”

Although I have written a lot about the support I get from my wife Mary Lou and all of my kids for my cycling “career” and I am immensely grateful to them for it, it had never occured to me that all of my posts are about me and my own achievements. Today is the perfect day to change all this. This story is about them. Full stop.

For a variety of reasons (and some unrelated to me being an avid cyclist – fortunately) my thirteen year old son and eleven year old daughter recently decided to join our local bike racing team. After a few days of training and one training camp, last Sunday was THE day. They were both doing their first road race. We left home at 7:15 am for the Grand Prix de Ste-Martine. The plan was for dad to race the Masters B race at 9:02 am and the kids to race at 11:02 am (20 kilometers for Alex and 10 kilometers for Gaby). Well it didn’t work out that way and I am very glad the original plan fell apart.

When we got there the line to register was long, too long for me to register everyone, get the kids set up, race with the old guys and then watch my kids race. There just wasn’t enough time between registration and the start of the Masters B race to get the kids set up and organized. What should I do? Easy decision: I will skip my race and  take care of Alex and Gaby to ensure they have a great experience, that is in spite of a temperature of 0 C (that’s 32 F Jason) and 70 km wind (Chris, that is pretty much 40 mph). It was a full two hours between when we got to the team’s tent and the start of their race. It was so cold and windy I think I even wished the kids would say: “Dad, let’s just go home, it’s too cold.” It was their first bike race, a totally new experience for them and although we had adverse conditions they never complained. They were both focused and commited. Impressive.

Gaby and Alex getting set up before the Grand Prix de Ste Martine

I helped Gaby and Alex set up their bikes on their trainers and made sure they had sports drinks, water and the right clothing for the harsh conditions.

The kids and their team members were very happy when the head coach called for the start of the warm up session. Finally they were not feeling so cold.

After a proper 30 minute warm up the kids lined up at the start line and off they went. They both successfully completed their first road race, and on a day when the conditions were brutal. Not once did they appear to change their mind, wished they didn’t have to race. They behaved like pros and performed like pros. 

Alex and Gaby completed their first race in extremely difficult conditions and were very happy to have participated, they learned a ton and are both looking forward to the next races.

So a new phase of the Lambert family business was launched and the lesson was clear: “Adversity doesn’t last, you can do well in adverse conditions and finish with a smile”. Imagine learning this when you are eleven and thirteen years old.