Listening to Carol and Scott Williams recount their past cycling adventures, it’s clear where their four daughters got their competitive streak. When Scott suggests that his wife’s racing was slightly more recreational than his, Carol laughs in a way that conveys both her good nature and her willingness to strap on her bike shoes and settle the matter outside.
Biking has been a part of their relationship and their family for over three decades. “For our first date” says Carol, “we met on a bike path. Then when we had the girls, we just brought them along.”
The girls, Lynneal, Elyse, and twins Marissa and Addy, rode in two bike trailers until they were old enough to pedal for themselves. Growing up in Franktown, Colorado (population 395), there were limited options for typical neighborhood outings, but with a path nearby and quiet country roads, biking provided entertainment and transportation.
The sisters spent hours outdoors together, inventing games, and playing more traditional sports, including hockey, lacrosse, tennis, soccer, cross-country, and basketball. “There was definitely a lot of competition between us,” says Addy, “even when we didn’t verbally say it, we all wanted to be the best.”
As they grew into their tweens and teens, their parents took them on more strenuous trips. Hiking 14-ers (peaks above 14,000 feet) became a family hobby, and summer vacations were often spent navigating challenging mountain bike trails. The lengthy, technical rides lasted hours and pushed the girls to their limits. “It would have been easy to fall apart and say I’m going back to the car,” says Elyse, “but we always wanted to show that we could do it.”
Sticking it out and sticking together during those difficult rides gave the family a unique bonding experience. “I feel like it’s similar to being on a team,” says Marissa, “accomplishing something together makes you feel closer, you trust each other more.”
Last summer Elyse and her dad joined 70 other riders for the Trans Am Bike Race from Astoria, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia, with the goal of raising funds for wounded veterans. Scott had to drop out when an electrolyte imbalance caused severe swelling in his legs. Elyse continued on her own, covering over 4,000 miles in just 31 days.
Today, all four daughters continue to enjoy biking as adults. Three are living car-free in Santa Barbara, a fact that perplexes their parents. Says Scott, “Sometimes we wonder how they ended up even more into biking than us.”
Lynneal, who is currently spending a month volunteering at a Guatemalan community bike shop, says the early trips with her parents were humbling. Lagging behind on the trail gave the all-star soccer player a new perspective. “I started to appreciate my sisters’ abilities. Not just in hiking 14-ers or riding across the country but also in daily activities.” It’s a perspective she has carried into her work as a shift leader at Santa Barbara’s DIY bike shop, Bici Cento, where she is able to see the “variety of gifts people bring.”
For Scott, sharing his passion for biking has been an opportunity to connect on a deeper level. “We get to have these adventures together. That’s the stuff you remember in life.”
Addy, who enjoys biking with her husband around their home in Fort Collins, Colorado, sees her parents as an inspiration and hopes to follow in their path. “They still bike and hike all the time; they’re showing it’s something you can do throughout your life. It’s something I hope to do with my own kids someday.”