Tour de France cycling champion Cadel Evans, who also competed in mountain biking in the Olympics early in his career, finds he needs to pack much more than his bike for family holidays with his partner Stefania and son Aidan
What have been your favourite family holidays and why?
Recently we have had some amazing family trips to New York City, Utah and Thailand. A few years ago we holidayed in the Bahamas with my old teammate George Hincapie and his family. The Bahamas really is as spectacular as it looks in the pictures. We also finally visited Mauritius, where my partner Stefania’s mother is from. That was fantastic.
Do you do much cycling or mountain biking whilst on family holidays?
With a young family, my free time to ride is now minimal. I often travel for cycling events so most of my riding is participating in those for now. We did have a great trip some years ago to Israel to retrace the path the Australian Light Horsemen took to the Battle of Beersheba, on mountain bikes. Robel was eight at the time, and he proudly rode all 150km with us. I spent most of the time fixing punctures from all the thorns, but as a quietly proud dad.
Your second son, Aidan, was born last year. How has that changed travelling as a family?
Whilst our family travel has not changed a lot, it has got more complicated! I often travel for work, and Stefania and Aidan accompany me when possible. I find travel is always more enjoyable when you can share it with someone close to you. Our biggest changes are logistical – we don’t only travel with a bike and luggage now, but also a baby jogger, car seat and, of course, nappies.
You divide your time between Barwon Heads in Victoria and the small town of Stabio in Switzerland. What do you love about them?
Barwon Heads provides the ultimate lifestyle for children, with beaches, playgrounds and some hills, as well as the Great Ocean Rd for dad to ride. In Switzerland we are very close to the Italian border, and to my eldest son. From home I can ride to Lago Maggiore or Lago Como, with its history, scenery and the Italian culture, so it really is special. Being away from Australia does make me appreciate and miss it. We have a very, very good quality of life in Australia.
Where are the best places in the world to ride as a family?
I may be biased, but the Great Ocean Rd in Victoria really is one of the most beautiful coastal roads to ride on anywhere in the world. Highway 1 in Northern California and the Amalfi Coast come close, but the Great Ocean Rd is still my favourite road ride in the world. We have some good mountain biking in the area as well, but I do not know the trails very well. Park City in Utah has an amazing trail network – that is probably my favourite mountain biking in the world. For mountains, although the Swiss Alps are quieter, Stefania is from the Dolomites in Italy, which I think are the most spectacular and unique mountains in Europe.
The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race is held in Geelong and Surf Coast regions in Victoria in January/February each year. Does your own family accompany you for this event?
Yes, my family love coming to Barwon Heads, and the race is a family affair for us as well. Little Aidan only just turned one, so he does not quite understand it. He did participate in the Swisse People’s Ride – in a baby trailer towed by Stefania. And although he cannot actually ride, his smile led him to become the ‘poster boy’ for the Vegemite Family Ride, which is a free event for families where they can ride together on a closed circuit, in a professional racing atmosphere. Last year some of the Bora-Hansgroe team riders came out and stood on the roadside handing water bottles to kids, just as they would receive in their races — it was beautiful. It involves all levels of cyclists, from two-year-olds on training wheels, to the world’s best professional male and female riders. I think one thing that separates the Great Ocean Road Race from many other events is that for a family, as well as four days of family and public activities outside of the racing, you are in the mix with the world’s top athletes, for free.
Why do you think travelling with kids is important?
I think travelling is important for everyone, children especially. The sooner they learn about other cultures, the more open minded and accepting of others they will become.
Where would you love to go for your next family holiday?
My favourite family holidays are with other families. I’m guessing we will be taking a trip somewhere in the US with the Hincapie family again, unless I can persuade George to come mountain biking in The Otways?