Editor's note: In honor of Father’s Day, the Deseret News talked to several noteworthy members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about their fathers.
Professional cyclist and cancer survivor Connor O’Leary learned to ride a bike from his father, Dave O’Leary.
Because 23-year-old Connor O’Leary has four older sisters, it was a pink and white bike.
“I remember being so embarrassed that the neighborhood boys were going to see me riding this pink and white bike,” O’Leary said. “That was the start of it all.”
Their first race together the 500-mile Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, or RAGBRAI. Young Connor had to train for 500 miles before he could go on the race.
“My dad got me into cycling when I was about 9 and we would go riding all the time,” O’Leary said.
He transitioned into racing at 13 and made the junior national team. He later rode with the national team and then professionally.
O’Leary points to other lessons his father has taught him.
“My dad has taught me the importance of hard work — a good work ethic. He really drilled into me honesty,” O’Leary said. “And these are things that he’s drilled into me and also shown by example.
“Over the years, I’ve watched him and just seen the value of those two things in particular.”
Connor and Dave O’Leary, both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also were on two seasons of “The Amazing Race.” In Season 22, which aired in 2013, they had to withdraw because David needed surgery for a detached Achilles tendon and calf muscle. They were invited back for an All-Stars edition for Season 24, which aired in 2014, and the father-son duo won the race.
Throughout Connor O’Leary’s life, the pair would go on adventures together, whether skiing, hiking or fishing.
“I’m constantly calling him and trying to talk him into things and he’s doing the same thing (with me),” Connor O’Leary said.
Connor O’Leary is a testicular cancer survivor and David O’Leary is a prostate cancer survivor. Both are cancer-free.
Connor O’Leary started the Tour Divide race on June 12, which is a 2,745-mile trail from Banff, Canada, south to the U.S.-Mexico border. Riders carry their own gear and ride unsupported, O’Leary said. He’s hoping he will finish in 17 days.
“It’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” he said before the race.
O’Leary, who rode with Team USA, switched to a mountain bike for the race. The Salt Lake resident would ride up the canyons to help train for the 200,000 feet in elevation changes along the race route.
The most recent update on the race showed his status as “scratched,” but no other indication why he would have pulled out of the race.
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