Sixteen-year-old champion cyclist Lexi Stierwalt travels all over the country for her races, but the July 18 Schoolyard Rumble in Mason High School’s parking lot was close to home.
She and her father, fellow cyclist Matt Stierwalt, took the opportunity to stretch their legs and talk to WCPO about their shared passion for their sport.
“Not many 16-year-olds spend a Friday night riding their bikes with their Dad, where we do that almost every Friday night," Matt said. "We ride our bikes together five days a week. We talk about everything from how much sleep she's getting, her nutrition and how she's doing with school work. It's so important that education comes first and training comes second.”
Matt has been cycling for 32 years, but his daughter is already getting good enough to outpace him.
“I officially dropped him for the first time, so that was awesome,” Lexi said.
Getting dropped in cycling means to fall behind another rider or group of riders. It’s a big worry for racers who may struggle to regain ground with limited time; on a father-daughter ride, Matt said, it just stings the ego.
“She’s still my kid," he said, laughing. “I enjoy seeing her do that, but she shouldn't be able to beat the old man yet. It's rewarding to see her hard work paying off.”
Lexi won the Criterium Amateur Race in Jacksonville, Florida, in June.
“I've been training super hard all road season for that, and it's something I've dreamed about for a while, so I was super happy," she said. "I had never wanted to win a race as bad as I did then.”
She wants to eventually race on the world team, and her father is excited to see how far she goes.
“Who knows? Maybe she'll be an Olympian one day," he said. "Maybe she'll just decide that she's going to ride the bike trail and enjoy the comfort of riding her bike, but whatever she decides to do is entirely up to her, and we'll support her 100% of the way.”