Behind the Inspiration for "Dad Camp"

by Mason Gravley / Jun 17, 2023
Behind the Inspiration for "Dad Camp"


We sat down with pro cyclist, dad, and Athletic Brewing athlete, Pete Stetina ahead of the launch of Dad Camp – a film about three longtime friends getting together for an iconic race in Oregon. All three have been professionally racing for years, but now they’re dads, and race day has more chaos (and diapers) than it used to. 

What's the story behind Dad Camp, and why should folks watch the film? 


Selfishly, I just wanted to pack a house with some of my closest racing colleagues for a fun weekend. Even when we find ourselves at races together, we’re usually too busy to catch up in a meaningful way; race weekends are jam-packed with a million micro-conversations. Now that we all have young families and spend so much time away from home, I saw an opportunity for us to reunite at an event we would have time outside of the competition for family fun. 

As to why folks should watch: inspiration and relatability, I hope this inspires folks to gather their friends and families and do something, anything, they consider fun - from gravel races to fishing trips and anything in between. 


I also feel that so many pro athlete stories focus on the dedication to training or pushing past invisible barriers. I haven’t seen much of how athletes learn to balance life in a wholesome way and, hopefully, to many watching, in a relatable way. Pro sport can be inspiring, but it isn’t always relatable. Maybe this can change that.

How has being a dad changed how you compete as a pro athlete? Is it harder to stay focused? How has race prep changed? Is anything different for you on race day itself?


Being a father has completely changed my outlook on sports. Before this, I’d seen the same transition impact other athletes in one of two ways – either losing the fire to race or gaining an entirely new gear. I feel like I’m the latter, not so much in the mindset that I have to provide for my family or that the reason I race is for them, but rather, that if I’m spending time away from home, I need to make the most of it. I can’t justify leaving them for a half-hearted effort; that mindset really motivates me to not give up in the toughest moments of a race. 


Race prep has definitely changed as well; it’s not just about me anymore. As a pro, your body is literally your job, and it’s an inherently selfish job. The more you focus on yourself, the better you can be. But with a young family, kids demand the focus. I can still carve out enough time for training, but when I get home, it’s immediately back into “Daddy Duty.” Recovery takes a massive hit, as does sleep. I seem to only be able to make time to stretch after the kids are asleep, the dishes are done, and my wife and I have eaten. It’s tough to motivate myself to do active recovery at 9:30 p.m.! But somehow, as a parent, you just tough it out. I’m always tired, but I tell myself it doesn’t matter; that’s just life now. Luckily, my power has stayed the same. My friends and I call it #DadWatts.

Did the Dad Camp weekend help or hinder you ahead of some pretty serious racing that followed? 

For me, Dad Camp was a chance to race in a more relaxed environment and get some hard efforts in before the summer’s biggest races. At those, the sponsor obligations and the performance pressures are so high that bringing the family doesn’t make sense. So, I wanted Dad Camp to be just one thing: a fun weekend. All so that when the big objectives came, I could flip that proverbial switch to the cutthroat mentality I need when the stakes are high. Like a mental refresh, so to speak, and it ended up being just that. We left with our cups full - with lots of good vibes, good laughs, and our motivations lit.


What’s something funny/interesting that didn’t make the cut of the film? 

I got to introduce Kiel’s daughter, EmmyLou, to the “Barbie” song by Aqua. I hope she requested it in the car all the way home.


Will there be another Dad Camp weekend in the future? 


I sure hope so! My goal is to make this an annual thing. It doesn’t have to be a race, but maybe a reunion of sorts - with bikes, obviously.  We’ve been part of each others’ lives for nearly 20 years now, but we’re spread all over the country, and when cycling does eventually stop, I’d hate to lose that friendship. It’s just a different kind of bond than when we gather with local friends. 

I’d also love for our kids to continue to get to know each other so they have friends to play with at future events. The same goes for our wives; they have a unique bond from having been our partners through the European tours. They’ve each experienced a distinct spousal dynamic that they can relate to or commiserate over!



All photos by Danny Awang @danny.awang