Father's Day with Juliana

June 20 — 2020 | Santa Cruz, CA

Words & Images: Erin Bixler - Juliana Junior team

Happy Father's Day! My dad is Doctor Rob Bixler. He has always gone by Rob, his middle name, even though his first name is James. He works for Sutter Medical Group as the Utilization Manager but he is also the vice-president of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS). SBTS puts on three races every year, Lost and Found, Downieville Classic, and previously Grinduro but now Mountains to Meadows. For each race, he is the doctor, so he rides around the mountain on his moto tending to peoples’ injuries. I grew up going to these events and it started the special bond that we now have. From my school work to my social life to my mountain bike life, my dad has always been there to lead and support me. He also tries to help me with anything. The keyword there is ‘tries’, but he’s also hard on me and teaches me valuable lessons.  

I learned how to ride bikes at a pretty average age, and when my dad introduced me to mountain biking, I hated it. I wanted nothing to do with it. He was fine with that but still had me go on family rides. When I started to like it more, I was around 10 years old and he took me down the Downieville downhill trails. He was happy that I liked riding but was also proud that I rode the Downieville downhill.  There was a year when I really liked it and became more excited to go on rides. Then, I started hating it again. That little circle of me hating riding, then liking it happened a few times. He never forced me to mountain bike when I didn’t feel like it. He let me choose what I wanted to do as it came along. Each time, my dad supported me. When my older brother, Aiden, started racing, everyone pushed me to race, except for my dad. He did believe that me racing would be cool and he thought that I would find it fun, but he knew that if he pushed me, I wouldn’t do it. I didn’t ride for roughly a year and then in August of 2018, I decided to race. Without my knowledge, my dad took Aiden aside and told him that if I could keep liking riding, not racing, just riding, he would take the whole family to Whistler. Finally, we went last summer! My dad was always supportive of whatever I chose to do and never pushed me to do something I didn’t want to do. 

My dad took me on rides with my brother and his friends. I was often in the back of the group, but he always included me, even if I couldn’t keep up all the time. After my first race of the Sticks and Stones downhill at Northstar, I remember my dad telling me “Now you realize how fast you are. Just because you’re always at the back of the riding group full of boys, that doesn’t mean you aren’t fast. No matter how fast I was or what my place in the race was, my dad was always supportive and proud that I tried my best. As I started to race more, my dad would pre-ride the courses with me and help me through any sections that were difficult. Mountain biking became an outlet and a way for us to connect and spend time together. As we rode the lift up at races, we would take selfies and he always reminded me how much he loved it.

Juliana Bicycles Erin Bixler

As we all know, racing doesn’t always go as planned. Last year at the Fox US Open race, he pre-rode the enduro with me as usual, and then I practiced for the downhill. I took a really big crash and got a concussion in my qualification run. My dad reminded me that rest would be good and it’s best that I’m not going to races and getting hurt more. 

 This year definitely hasn’t gone according to plan with COVID-19 striking the world and other situations arising. Even though our races got canceled, my dad still encourages my brother and me to ride. I really appreciate all of his hard work helping my brother and me with racing and especially now as he is working more with patients at his job. Through it all, my dad has supported me, helped me, taught me, and loved me and I feel so lucky that I have him as my dad. 


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