Combine studying and bicycle riding?

Quick intro
My son, 17 years old, is absolutely not interested in studying
He is just thinking about riding, riding, riding…
Especially road bike, downhill, BMX, …
When asked about going to university, the answer is ‘No. I want to ride’
He studies now in a private boarding school, and there are bicycle classes
His coach is a professional. He said that my son is very promising

Okay, so… In order to let my son make the right decision
Please help me ‘enlarge my own vision’
So I can bring more choices to him (not influence him, just more choices)
I know nothing about combining sports and studies, esp. in Taiwan

What can he do ? What are his choices?

I post here, because I want to deal with bicycle riders… true bicycle riders


I can’t be of any help but wanted to say that you sound like a fantastic father.


If he wants to race bicycles he should probably leave Taiwan asap… college or not.


I cannot really comment the sports and studying, maybe @marasan can chime in as he’s got kids and is also an active cyclist/triathlete.

Here’s what I can say. There’s hardly any scene for competitive cycling in Taiwan. Nonetheless, there’s some road racing here in Taiwan. His coach says he’s promising, but has he gone out to any races and won anything? If he’s not getting his foot in the door right now, he’s very much behind in terms of training and experience, but who knows, your kid could be a natural.

If he really wants to go pro and find a job in Taiwan, it’s not an easy market, especially here in Taiwan. I work in the industry and Taiwan is the center of manufacturing, so there’s jobs in factories, but those are never the greatest jobs. Distributors and shops are all struggling to keep afloat, so outside of competing, the cycling industry in Taiwan is…meh.

Taiwan is not known to give great support to their athletes, even the only Taiwanese women cyclist to ever compete in the Olympics, Huang Ting Ying, did not have the best resources. When Taiwanese cyclist go overseas to train or compete, they usually can’t keep up due to the dietary differences, weather, pace of westerners and much more.

Below is a documentary of her when she was training for the Olympics.

I would say, let him try. If he’s really good, it could work out for everyone, but if he’s unable to surpass the top tier guys in Taiwan, you might want to talk to him about a different career path.

Good luck, hope I was helpful.


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Has your son been in competitions? Either cycling or other sports?

Loving cycling and loving the lifestyle required to win are 2 entirely different things. He needs exposure to that while school. If he is in a school environment that can provide both, great, but don’t stop studying. Always have a plan B. Racing careers are often very short and always insecure.

Edit, Nowadays, there are “non traditional” entry points to the sport, such as Zwift Academy, but your son would still need real world opportunities to be on the road in a competition environment.
As far as downhill or BMX, I have no experience.

Edit 2 Has he ever participated in events such as Taiwan KOM?


Something he might consider is going to a school that has a competitive cycling team and try to “walk on” the team. Here’s one in the States that is pretty successful at the NCAA level and they race a lot of disciplines.

There are many others that are similar. Perhaps his coach could put together some power based samples of his training to share with potential coaches and offer his recommendation or at least set up some conversations with potential college team coaches and your son.

If your son has never raced competitively, then obviously he should do that first to see if he even has a taste for it.

The other route (with or without school) is to go somewhere west with a strong amateur racing scene, race, join a club, and go from there.


Thanks all for your first wave of feedback (waiting for the second wave)

Yes, he is just like the guy in the video. “Leave me alone, I just want to ride” hehehe

It is in our genes, his grandfather and a few uncles and cousins ride in Europe
His Taiwanese mother is (can I say?) famous ‘in the industry’ here on the island
I am the weakest element. There is dust on my bicycle.

Tell the truth, his body is really fit for the job, tall, thin and muscular
So many falls already, so many scars and broken teeth, still riding…
No matter it is road bike, downhill, BMX

Last time we chatted together, he was complaining about too many broken parts
and… money, difficulty to find the right part, delivery time, etc…
I replied: Welcome to the ‘real world’

Yes, that’s what I heard and understand
To go abroad is definitely an option
But… when I write ‘not interested in studying’, it includes ‘foreign languages’
When I ask… Are you ready to go abroad? … well, not yet, only 17

Yes, as a father, that is my main concern
I always ask myself… Why do people choose this or that profession?
Because they want to… win?.. enjoy their passion?.. make money?.. survive?
(ikigai is the key word for the ones who know that Japanese concept)
This 17 years old is also so good at woodwork (like me) and music (like his mom)

… waiting for the second wave of feedback
still interested in ‘real options’ here in Taiwan… how to combine studying and bicycle riding

To compete at the highest level you need doping, and doping is not healthy at all, I think that’s a good argument.


His options in Taiwan are similar, but it’s almost assuredly a dead end. Go to sports college for cycling or go go regular college and race what few races there are with a club team. Taiwan is a serious dead end on the cycling side.


erm erm, he is now aware of this thread
and… he is reading… google translate very useful
so… you can talk to him directly, hahaha


hello kid!


Go to college, study human physiology and exercise science. May be some overlap with medical studies and other sciences (if he changes his mind or looks for a different career later).

While in school he can and should join a cycling club, team, or program that supports juniors and young ambitious cyclists. This is very do-able if he spends his spare time training and riding, instead of drinking and chasing girls.

Unfortunately my advice is based on what’s available at a number of schools and towns in the U.S., not Taiwan. Taiwan has study opportunities, but I don’t know what kind of club/amateur racing and coaching is available.

Still, he’s young. If he is a standout in Taiwan, in any discipline, that might be a sign that he should go abroad and expand his horizons. On the other hand, he could enjoy cycling but decide in a couple years that it’s going to be his hobby, and then he decides to focus on something else. All he can do is try it and see where it goes.


Wow, thanks for the vote of confidence @ranlee. But I can only add my thoughts as a parent who would be thrilled if one of my kids loved a sport so much, and not as a person who knows anything about competing at such a high level (I seem to do okay in the old man’s group for local races, that’s all).

As a parent, again I would be very pleased if one of my kids liked a sport so much. But I would be insistent on getting that college degree for various reasons: You need a plan B, you need that exposure to higher ideas, you need to make friends that have a wide variety of goals, etc.

Maybe a compromise would be to let your son know he can complete his bachelor’s degree in 5 years or even longer while he does both cycling and studying. Maybe in addition you can let him study something that would be interesting to him, such as physical therapy (great demand in the future worldwide for this, by the way), mechanical engineering (so he can design bikes himself!), or even something like philosophy of sport (yes, there is such a degree).

Good luck with your son. He sounds great and you seem like a good dad by allowing him to pursue his passions.

Edit: I see I repeated much of what @jmee said above.

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go to university in belgium. ride with the university club. advance to the semi-pro scene. compete. lose, lose, lose.

then realise that there are only a very very few who can make it in that world of pro cycling at any one time.

then keep riding as a hobby… but with a degree in exercise science or similar, then work on a team as a soigneur or a masseur or a team assistant.

or win, win, win, and get picked as a junior prospect. you’ve gotta be in it to win it, and you simply can’t be in it in Taiwan.


As many have mentioned, Taiwan is a dead end. Whether he wants to go pro or stay in the cycling industry, proficiency in English is a must. If he wants to make this his life he’s going to need to be able to understand coaches, teammates, sponsors, cooks, corporate people and so on and so forth if and when he goes abroad.

Worst case scenario, if competing does not work out and his English proficiency is good, what’s not to say he lands a job at a big cycling brand with offices all around the world. He has to know that proficiency in only mandarin will only allow him to stay in Taiwan and communicate with Taiwanese.

There’s plenty of western companies that encourage their employees to ride and will even sponsor their employees for races to represent the company at events.

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My cousin’s son was pretty much the same mindset.

Didn’t go to college but works as a mechanic in a bike shop that is becoming fairly known (parents founded then sold the chain of shops years back). The kid is talented and doesn’t compete - he’s been on a few magazine covers and things like that. He reads and I find him more interesting than the vast majority of his peers who did go to college - he could certainly decide that is what he wants to do and go back when he wants but is doing something he likes to do, lives a good life and isn’t tens of thousands of dollars in debt (though that isn’t an issue outside of the US).

Belgium is the place aspiring pro cyclists go to.

It is so rare to find a young adult who’s passionate about anything anymore. Bicycling is a great lifestyle and competitive sport. Perhaps he can study communications and enjoy the sport of professional bicycling like the popular youtube hosts “The GCN Show”. Compete in the sports, tour the world attending shows and events while creating a brand name and business. Let him try for 5 years. If things don’t work out he will still be only 22 years old and can still enter college and start the traditional career route. 5 years to pursue a passion? Totally go for it. You are a great and supportive father.

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