Women's Wednesday: A Racer's Mom with Meagan Tsakanikas
The Grand National Cross Country Racing Series presented by Specialized, an AMA National Championship, is full of amazing women, on the track and off. The racers sure don't do it all alone, and for many there's a behind the scenes unsung hero, their mom.
We're excited to chat with them and get to know what it truly means to be a GNCC Racer's Mom. From the home to the track, they seem to always go above and beyond to make our racing world go 'round. This week we had the pleasure of chatting with SuperMom of five, Meagan Tsakanikas. From ages 3 to 15, Meagan has her hands full with her kids racing everything from Stacyc to YXC1. Somehow, she does it all!
Right now, your family of seven is fully entrenched in the racing world every weekend, how did all of this start for the Tsakanikas family!?
Having a husband who raced, and his father did too, I had just assumed if we had ever had kids that they would as well. It seems as if it is just in their blood, they have all been at the races since they were days old. We started hare scramble racing with our oldest and the rest of the kids just followed suit, we never pushed them into racing, it's what they wanted to do.
With 5 kids, I'm sure they all have different personalities on and off the track. Tell us a little about each member of the gang and what they race!
Our oldest Austin, age 15, races YXC1 and has a very serious mentality when it comes to racing, he always pedals the track multiple times to study the course and be as prepared as possible. Our 2nd born is Mason, age 13, he races 85 Big Wheel and is a wild card. When he is feeling it, you can tell. If he isn’t, well then, the results show just that. He doesn’t take it too seriously and just loves to ride his bike. Our third child, Aubrey, age 10, she races Girls 65cc, she is another one that just loves to ride her bike. Completely capable of winning on any given weekend but you never know what you are going to get until the race starts. Next is Maura, she just turned 8, she races 50 Sr1 and is much like Mason, she doesn’t like being told what to do. She wants to win all the time but if she wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, you know exactly what to expect of her! Last, but certainly not least is Alden, he is 3, he is seeming to be a combination of everyone put together though he may have a love for two wheels that surpasses the rest. It is fun watching him grow and learn. I’m sure he will be on a dirt bike soon enough! Through it all, while it was somewhat expected because it is what we do, I never imagined all of my children would choose the same love for dirt bikes but it definitely makes life a lot easier not having to choose how to split our time.
We all know results aren't made on the weekend but in the weeks before, what else is piled on the mom plate getting everyone to the track on the weekends?
It is typically my job to get the kids riding during the week, usually every Wednesday. On practice nights they want to be timed and have videos taken of them to see their form (and well, for TikTok I’m sure :/) so I have to chase them all over the place. At Least once a week I make a trip to JT motorsports to get parts and fuel. Of course, making sure their gear is clean (so much gear), and groceries (so many groceries) are bought for the upcoming weekend. I usually pick up the camper from storage Thursday and load it, so we are ready to go when Andrew gets home from work. Most of the time you will find me driving us to the races too!
The tasks are one thing, emotions are another, what's it like to manage being a mom and watching your crazy kids out there racing?
There are no words for it. There are so many emotions and feelings in one. Scared, frustrated, proud, anxious, excited and the list could go on. The faster they get, the more this increases. I live on prayers. When the national anthem is playing, that seems to be when all of these emotions come out. I normally have to wear my sunglasses, or you will see the tears in my eyes!
Being a mom is an incredibly special experience on its own, do you think racing as a family adds a new dynamic?
I think it makes our family so much closer. We do everything together. It gives us so much to talk about and share in the experiences together. Especially since it seems to be every weekend thing we do.
What would you say is the hardest part of your role?
Watching your kids struggle for sure is the hardest part. I know their potential; I watch them week in and week out. It is very frustrating when they cannot see if for themselves and of course the obvious of getting hurt but I am going to just go ahead and knock on some wood!
What's the best?
When your kids are proud of themselves. It really is the best feeling to know how hard that they work, and that hard work pays off! Being their biggest cheerleader and supporting them always! Watching year after year their progression is simply amazing.
What does be a GNCC Racer's mom mean to you?
It means a lot, being able to see our kids be competitive on a national level, it makes me a proud mama. Austin did a bunch of GNCC in 2019, I remember sleeping on cots under an ez-up 8 months pregnant with Alden, but it was so worth it to watch him get his first national class win that year and how he was becoming such a better rider. Then in 2022 we committed to racing GNCC as our main series with all the kids racing, since then we have had some more wins and at least one if not more than one kid on a podium every race since. It's a lot of sacrifice to make this happen, and the way we work together as a family, and the friendships my kids are making, I think most would call that a mom WIN!