Not every son or daughter would want to spend hours, days, or even months literally attached to their dad’s side. Especially when that requires them to endure grueling physical conditions, with only their father to depend on through it all.

But that’s part of what makes father-child cycling teams so exceptional. They cycle for a reason, and sometimes only a father can understand that reason. That is when a father is the best teammate.

Here are four unbelievable father-child cycling teams who are inspiring people around the world to stand up for good causes, appreciate the relationships that matter most, and create unbreakable family bonds.

Riding for civil rights

Al Gerhardstein and his daughter Jessica Gingold fight for civil rights as lawyers and as tandem cyclists. Gerhardstein, an Ohio civil rights lawyer, focuses on criminal justice reform. Gingold, a law student, focuses on juvenile justice.

This past May, the father-daughter duo rode 1,350 miles from Cincinnati to Ferguson and New Orleans, raising funds for a criminal justice center Gerhardstein founded and a children’s law center Gingold worked for in the past.

Throughout the ride, father and daughter spoke with community leaders. According to the team’s website, Gerhardstein would “share some of Cincinnati’s challenges and successes so that the two cities might be able to learn from one another.”

In addition to strengthening cities and fighting for justice, their cycling journey has strengthened their father-daughter relationship.

Gerhardstein and Gingold have to work together like any team does, but they have had lifelong practice. “When I was three, my dad carried me,” Gingold said in a 2009 Father’s Day blog post. “Now, at twenty-three, we carry each other.”

Gerhardstein and Gingold support each other physically and emotionally. There were times when Gingold “was not quite feeling it,” she said. “My dad would lightly nudge me with a simple, ‘Give me some legs girl!’ With that I was back, giving it all I had.”

Gingold says cycling with her father has helped her “feel more empowered and independent than ever.”

Making history for autism awareness

The annual Bike to the Beach 105-mile bike ride by Autism Speaks starts at Washington, D.C. and ends at Dewey Beach in Delaware. Allen Parvizian and his 10-year-old son Cameron raised funds and awareness for Autism Speaks by cycling in the event in July 2014.

Allen has competed in the race on team APJL Parizian for many years, but last year was the first time he competed with his son, Cameron. Team APJL Parvizian was the top fundraiser for the 2014 event–a position they have kept for five years, raising more than $280,000 for Autism Speaks.

The Parvizians made the most recent race a personal victory by achieving several milestones for the ride and for their family. Besides being the top fundraisers, the Parvizians ranked second in the event.

Cameron was also the youngest participant in the ride’s history. Despite Cameron being diagnosed with autism at 18 months old, Allen knew it was the right choice to include Cameron in the ride when Cameron said he wanted to ride.

But, team APJL Parvizian includes far more than Allen and Cameron–27 other family members and friends joined the father and son in the ride, and a hundred family members, friends, and supporters greeted them at the finish line.

The event itself seeks to include children with autism and their families–to show that those with autism aren’t held back by limitations.

And the Parvizians are doing just that.

Fighting blood cancer for themselves and others

Bill Schneller and his 25-year-old son Will cycled 100 miles in June to support and raise funds for cancer research. They rode the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride at Lake Tahoe, but not just for the beauty.

Will was diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma in November 2009, nine months after a friend passed away from Hodgkins lymphoma. Will discovered he was in remission a year after his friend’s passing and months after his diagnosis.

“I don’t think it was a coincidence that I got the call that I was in remission exactly one year after I got the call saying that Nicole had passed away,” Will said on Team Schneller’s Fundraising page.

“I decided that I could do more to help in the fight against blood cancers,” he said.

Bill helped his son with that cause by introducing him to cycling. After deciding to do the LLS ride, Will received a bicycle for Christmas, and he and his dad started training immediately.

“[We had] taken on the challenge of helping to rid our world of this disease,” Bill said. “We will be just one small part of this large national effort to raise money for further research.”

“Since 1988, more than 600,000 TNT participants have helped LLS invest more than $1 billion for blood cancer research,” says.

However small in number, Team Schneller is leaving its mark on the cause. As of May, the father-son duo fundraised $25,395, passing their goal of $25,000.

Learning to run and ride, without legs

Perhaps the team that best shows the love, devotion, and unbreakable bond between a father and son is Team Hoyt.

Rick was diagnosed as a spastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy at his birth in 1962. Doctors told Dick and his wife Judy “to institutionalize Rick because there was no chance of him recovering, and little hope for Rick to live a ‘normal’ life,” Team Hoyt’s website says.

That, however, was not an option for the Hoyts. Despite Rick only having the ability to move his head, the Hoyts wanted to raise him like any other boy.

The Hoyts got Rick an interactive computer that allowed him to communicate by tapping his head against a switch on his wheelchair to form letters and words. They involved him in everything, especially physical activities and school.

Team Hoyt began when Rick wanted to participate in a 5-mile run for a lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Dick was not a long-distance runner, but he couldn’t let Rick down, so he pushed Rick in his wheelchair the whole way.

They finished next to last, but that hardly mattered. “That night,” their website says, “Rick told his father, ‘Dad, when I’m running, it feels like I’m not handicapped.'”

Team Hoyt races in Wellesley

Dick and Rick Hoyt race in Wellesley, Massachusetts

They have been running, biking, and swimming ever since. Team Hoyt has participated in seemingly countless marathons, duathlons, triathlons, and other rides and races.

The two have a special bond that only a relationship and experiences like theirs could have formed. “It’s amazing because we’ll start writing down a couple words and the next thing we know what each other is going to say,” Dick said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Rick is independent and hard-working. He inspires people everywhere, but he especially inspires his father. “I’ve seen him grow from a person to a really great human being who is a fighter,” Dick said in an interview. “He’ll never give up and he’ll never give in.”

Because of this determination, Team Hoyt’s influence has touched people worldwide. When Dick and Rick give motivational speeches, Rick has people laughing and crying in the first 15 minutes.

Rick also works with specialists in his own personal time to answer emails from people asking about how communicative devices can help their lives.

Dick hopes his family’s story can help other people understand the importance of family. His other two sons and their relationships with Rick inspire him most. Whether they were building tree houses, playing in the sand at beaches, camping, or even throwing Rick in the pool, they were all laughing and having fun. “Rick would just love that,” Dick said.

Team Hoyt cycles the Ironman in 1989

Dick and Rick Hoyt cycle the Hawaii Ironman in 1989

Dick and Rick have earned more than 30 awards including an Ironman Triathlon Hall of Fame Award, a Spirit of Independence Award, a Father and Son of the Year Award, and a Parenting Award.

Although some awards might be specific to one teammate, like the Exemplary Father Award, other awards show the true nature of their relationship. In Boston, the duo even received their own day of recognition: the Boston City Council officially named October 22, 2014 “Team Hoyt Day.”

While the Hoyts are considered everything from a cycling and competing team to a motivational speaking team, through everything they have experienced together they demonstrate that they are first and foremost a father and son team with an unbreakable bond.

Image 1 courtesy of Eric Shaw White via Wikimedia commons

Image 2 courtesy of Photo courtesy of Team Hoyt