So I had my flash new road bike: an Avanti Giro, with an alloy frame and carbon forks (I would soon learn all about carbon). It was a lovely, slick, silver bike with white drop bars and thin, black racing tires.
It was a substantial investment compared to previous bikes I’d obtained earlier in life, but I was assured I’d ride higher speeds and longer distances than ever before. It didn’t exactly start off that way though. On my first ride, I set off from home and headed down to the bike track to the city. I figured a quick ride to the city and back (approximately 20km) would be a good way of breaking in the bike.
Unfortunately, I had to pull out of the ride just 7km in. The road bike and its positioning caught me totally off guard. I struggled with the forward position that one takes on a road bike, and my neck, arms and shoulders became so stiff that I was unable to continue. I huffed and puffed up the hill back home, feeling a huge burn in my legs and wondering how people could ride these things all day. It wasn’t my finest moment.
Over the following weeks, I continued to struggle. My distances and speed improved (regular rides of 20-40km) but I didn’t feel like I was “getting it”. I battled to keep up with the people I rode with, which was frustrating to say the least. Even though the others were happy to wait for me, it’s never a good feeling to slow others down. I wondered if it would be better if I just gave it up, maybe it wasn’t for me?
Then, when all seemed lost, came the turning point. I was riding up Beach Road one cold, early winter’s morning, when I felt a kick of energy and accelerated up a big hill. I don’t know where it came from, but all of a sudden I was riding well! I felt my feet pedal smoothly, push, pull, push, pull as I cruised to a comfortable speed and felt at one with the bike. The feeling as I got to the hill and rolled back down it was one of relief and excitement, maybe I could do this after all?
From that point on, I never looked back. I easily did 50km rides and my speeds steadily climbed. I just wanted to be on my bike every day. I didn’t even care that it was making me fit and healthy, I just did it because it was so much fun!
For a good two years I rode multiple times a week, clocking up in excess of 200km most weeks. The highlight for me came when I did the 210km Around the Bay in a Day ride in October 2009. To get to that level, after only being able to ride 7km a few months earlier, was very satisfying.
In 2010, I started playing cricket and soccer on the weekends; it was great to play some team sports but the flip side of that was I had less time to ride. Suddenly my three regular rides a week had to be cut down to one, and then none. 2011 was one of the last times I donned the knicks and jersey and set out on the road.
Recently, Maddy and I have both decided to get back into cycling together. It’s a great fun, free activity (once you get all the gear of course) and a good way of catching up with each other.
Maddy has bought herself a sharp new Trek road bike. It’s a beautiful bike, very reminiscent of my old Giro. I’ve been lucky enough to receive one of my dad’s old bicycles, a stylish Look 586 Origin. I’ve taken it out on a few rides already, it runs like a dream and cuts through the roads like a hot knife though butter. I’m so excited to have a new bike now and get into riding once more.
It’s great to see Maddy learning the ways of the road bike, and the progress she has made in such a short amount of time makes me truly proud. It’s awesome to see someone experiencing the joy of taking up cycling that I first felt all those years ago. No matter where life takes us, I find myself always looking forward to the next ride.