At 8 years old, Levi Dykes has dreams of racing Paris Roubaix and shows more determination then most adults. Levi took it upon himself to write Zwift and ask for an invite. Thanks in part to his interest, we now have steps in place for minors to get on Zwift and join in on the ride! We sat down with Levi and his dad, MicaJon, to get to know them a little better.
Dad, how did you and your family get into cycling?
As a kid, I enjoyed freestyle and BMX bicycling as many of the kids my age did. I bought my first real road bike three years ago at age 36. My son, Levi (6 years old at the time), immediately showed interest in cycling. In response to Levi's interest in cycling, our whole family became active in the sport. My wife Jennifer and I ride regularly and cherish the time spent together on the road. My oldest daughter, JuliAnna, rides with us and says that she intends on cycling for fitness and transportation in her upcoming college years. My youngest daughter, BrenLeigh, says she doesn't quite have the fever for cycling that the rest of us have, but she has been on some road rides with us, and the smile on her face while she pedals along says it all.
How does your family cycle together?
A family that pedals together, stays together. We try to get out frequently when the weather is nice. Levi and I ride most often, but we all enjoy riding as a family when we can.
We at Zwift love the cycling community. How fun is it to be able to share that with your whole family?
We are active in our local bike club, the Highland Rim Bicycle Club. There are a couple hundred members. It’s like a giant, extended family. We live in a community of about only 17,000 people, so it’s common to run into members of our club while grocery shopping, at the post office, or while eating out for dinner. We are a group of athletic, family-oriented southern folks.
Early mornings on Zwift
Levi, what is your favorite part about Zwift?
It’s virtual reality, like a video game. It's harder than real-life, which helps me train. It makes me faster! I love the graphics! It’s better than staring at the wall and imagining the road.
What is your ultimate goal in racing?
One day, I hope to race in the Tour De France for the up-and-coming Hincapie Racing Team.
Your dad says you are very disciplined, and you wake up early before school to train. Is that hard sometimes?
Yes, it is hard sometimes. Especially when I got up on 04-01-2015 at 4:30 in the morning to train, hoping to best my PR on Deliverance Hill… To my surprise, I was stuck riding a bigwheel! April Fools! No PR for me.
Who is your favorite pro rider?
My favorite pro rider is now retired. George Hincapie. He is an inspiration. My dad read some of his book, “The Loyal Lieutenant,” to me, and I think he is awesome. I am going to meet him and his family at Hotel Domistique in South Carolina later this month! I am so excited.
What race do you hope to do one day?
I really want to become skilled and tough enough to race in the Paris Roubaix! I want to crush the cobblestones under my tires.
You just got 2nd out of a very large age group in your first race; how did that feel? Did Zwift help?
It hurt. A LOT. I pushed so hard! During that race, I discovered that I could push myself further than I thought I could. Zwift gave me the strength and endurance to hang on to the pace without blowing up. I would not have been strong enough to hang on without Zwift, for sure.
2nd place Union Grove Individual Time Trial
Who is faster, you or your dad?
My dad is a lot faster, but I’m gaining on him all the time. In a couple of years, he’s going to be asking me to slow down. He’s my best partner.
Do any of your friends race, or have you made new friends through racing?
None of my friends from school race. Most kids I hang out with don’t even know what road cycling is! They think I’m just peddling around on a regular old BMX bike, or something. I think they’d trip out if they knew what we really do and what it feels like. I have gained a couple of racing friends, but we don’t get to see each other except when we’re racing. Maybe if I get on a real team someday, I will have more cycling friends my age. Right now, I just enjoy riding with the big guys in my local cycling club.
What would you tell other kids who may be interested in racing bikes?
I would tell them that they need a good bike. Also, they need to get ready to train really hard! It’s gonna hurt sometimes, but you’ll get to go really fast! I would give them some safety tips so they don’t get smashed by a truck or lose a bunch of skin on the road.
We look forward to seeing Levi grow as a cyclist and watching him win more races. Thank you to Levi and his family for sharing their story! Good luck!
This interview has been edited and condensed.