“I think it would almost be an understatement to say that they supported me one-hundred percent,” Pier-Andé Côté said of his parents in light of his recent success at the Canadian road race championships. Kyle Murphy, meanwhile, attributed his win at the American championships to the love and support of his wife Brittany. “She has a very deep well of compassion and energy. She’s amazing.” Two riders, two championship wins, united by a common thread of familial support.
These back-to-back wins shone a brilliant spotlight on the two first-time champions, Murphy and Côté. Both riders will pull on their respective nations’ colors in every road race for the rest of the season and into 2023.
Murphy, recovering from an illness that took him out of the Tour de Suisse earlier in the month, was able to regroup with his wife Brittany and two kids, Nico and Sadie, and “show up to nationals absolutely ripping” to deliver the big win.
“It would not be possible to do this without the support of Brittany. Without question,” he said. “There’s this rising tide of support and encouragement and it just manifests in a win.”
While Murphy’s family was helping him to bounce back for nationals, Côté was also at home with his family. Côté had cut his schedule short in Europe this spring to head to Quebec City and spend time with his mother, who is currently battling cancer.
“When I got the call, I knew I had to target that race,” he said. He was determined to make everything of that race for mom. “I remember calling my coach and telling her I want you to give me a training plan as if I were a normal human being right now.”
Côté’s parents normally would come to every race on the continent, ready to cheer him on. This time, they wouldn’t get to be on the sidelines, so he knew he had to do something special.
“I wasn’t ready to lose the race as much as I normally would,” he said. “I’ve lost that race one or two times before having good form and being too willing to lose it. This year I guess I wasn’t.”
All of his efforts paid off in a fantastic win that he was able to dedicate to an extremely proud mother.
Murphy and Côté can both attest to the power family has to fuel their racing. “It’s easy to get on the grind in this sport and forget why you’re doing it,” said Murphy, but he knows that cycling is about more than just the abilities of the individual. Côté attested that his parents are to thank for his successes “They supported literally everything I’ve ever accomplished, to be honest.”
Growing up Côté’s parents made whatever sacrifices were necessary to see his success. They moved cities for him to have access to a sports and study program in Quebec City. His mom always made sure he was fueled with not only the quantity of food necessary for a teenage athlete, but the quality nutrition demanded by a busy sports schedule. His father encouraged him in all of his athletic ventures and introduced him to the sport of cycling.
“Throughout my career it brought me so much balance,” he said about his parents’ support. “The other elements of performance that Human Powered Health is promoting like movement, nutrition, sleep, mindfulness. They’ve always taught me to have a balanced life.”
Murphy gets to pull on his Stars and Stripes jersey knowing how lucky he is to be doing what he’s doing. Family is always in the back of his mind when training and racing. “Training is easy. It’s what I get to do. My family is making way more sacrifices than me,” he said. “So it’s like the least I can do to get on my bike and nail my training and just get it done. It’s like nothing.”
Murphy, who lives with his wife and kids in Vermont, has been lucky enough to bring his family around to a few races in the last year – “It makes my life feel very full.” Murphy believes that the experience was important for his family to “understand how big the project is, the whole Human Powered Health endeavour,” and also for the team to “see how important family is to me and to understand that’s a huge part of the motivation.”
Training mostly from home in Vermont, Murphy is able to keep a balance that is so important for professional athletes. It’s not just about putting miles on the bike and fuel in your body, it’s about everything you are able to do off the bike.
Murphy and his wife have two young children now, and what might overwhelm us 9-to-5ers seems to give this pro racer an extra boost. It’s easy to think about work-life balance as an overwhelming struggle, but finding a way to feel positive about both give Murphy the ability to find success on and off the bike.
“That feeling of fullness and balance and just having a complete life, and know that I’m participating as a father,” he said. “There’s no guilt if you go on a big ride and you knock out your training, and then you can kick ass as a dad. That’s the dream.”
Our two new champions will go into the rest of the year not just representing their nations, but representing the love and balance brought to them by their families. Murphy and Côté show us that support and encouragement can be found throughout the unique struggles life brings. Kyle summed up family as well as anyone could:
“I just love ‘em. They’re great.”