Monday, 28 October 2013

Re- Re-entry to cycling

Back to 1994....... life had moved on, now with a Mortgage hanging round my neck, and a growing family, work had somehow moved further away.... or so I thought. Commuting on a motorcycle is cheap and convenient.

Then comes July 1995, a story on the news about a thing called  "Le Tour De France" seems its some sort of bicycle race, and some guy called "Big Mig" was trying to win his Fifth Tour...I was intrigued as it reminded me of those early days riding as a kid and commuting by bike.

I began watching the TV highlights, and was starting to feel something, the bike bug was stirring again. I had no desire to take up any sort of racing, that was just going to be too hard. My bum hadn't seen a bicycle seat in years, nor had the bike seen daylight in the same time. Maybe with a bit of basic maintenance I could get the bike rolling again.

A couple of nights in the garage, after watching Le Tour highlights and a few new bits for the bike, and the old Royal Star was mobile again. What about me?  A gentle ride around the neighbourhood felt ok. It was good to get the bike and myself moving once more.... the cogs were felt like fun.

$64,000.00 Question......Should I ? Will I commute again??

I definitely wasn't in ant sort of fit condition to be able commute the full 40km to work, let alone the return 40km at the end of the day. Hmmm, how to approach the situation??
Could I survive the 5k ride to the nearest rail station and back home (all uphill of course) ..... reckon I'll wait for Saturday to try that out.... it'll give me all day Sunday to recuperate if necessary. Did I say I was out of condition?

I survived that 10k return ride, but it wasn't all smiles. Bits were chafed, other bits hurt, and there were new muscles aching. I didn't feel like this in my previous cycling life. Why?
The next Saturday I attempted that same ride, with the same results. Not good. I actually wanted to make a go of cycling again. Maybe a pair of nicks (like those guys in the Tour wear) and jersey as well, might be better for cycling than Jeans and t-shirt.
I immediately felt my comfort on the bike improve, gloves helped as well.
Time to try that 10k ride once more.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Today. I digress.....

Today was the annual Sydney Spring Cycle. A community ride that is so popular, the entries have to be limited to a maximum of 10,000 riders.
There are a few distance options available to attempt, I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest, of a person that had won an entry, for the 50km Classic Ride....many thanks Chain Reaction Cycles. 

The day started out with an early morning (4.30)  train ride to the start at North Sydney. Manoeuvring the Rotovelo was pretty easy, not having any crowds to deal with.

A bit if a climb to ride from the rail station to the actual start line. Nothing major, but enough to wake the legs an lungs. 

Some coffe and cake at the start, a typical cyclist's breakfast... then off to join the crew and enjoy a nice days ride. 

The ride progressed over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a scenic blast to Mrs Macquarie's Chair and the Art Gallery. 
Back to Observatory Hill, some city streets, the inner west, where there were a few challenging "lung busting hills" where I was passed by many, but got my revenge on the downhills.  (75km/h being top speed for the day)

Continuing west to Olympic Park and the finish line, was pretty much ... getting passed by all on the ups (with many words of encouragement..thanks everyone!!)... and tearing past everyone on the downs (to cheers and groans... Oops sorry!  ;-)  lol)

Nearing the end it became more prudent to stay calm, and cruise with the crowd. 

A ride time of 2.5hrs. I was happy with that.  

A very nice lunch and a refreshing coffee, then a wander through the Bike and Lifestyle Show.  

Finished the day with a 20km ride back home. 

All in all.... time for a rest me thinks .....

Thursday, 17 October 2013

a return to cycling...................maybe?

...... a change of employment, and a shorter commute on a motorcycle was not doing any favours for my bike or my waistline. The bike was hardly warming up on the short ride to work, and the waistline...."no comment".

Time for a re-think on commuter transport, maybe the bicycle "thing"?

Could I ride a bicycle the short distance to work?
Will I die trying?
Where do a get a half decent bike to lug myself around on?
Am I going to stick it out?
Hmm, decisions, decisions....

Well, at the very least, I might get to work a bit quicker actually, the traffic on my commute was pretty Bleh! ... and I'll save a few pennies in fuel costs.... maybe its worth a try.

Decision made... Give it a go!

For a modest outlay I purchased a new 10speed racing bike from the Local Bicycle Shop.
Some bicycle kit, gloves, helmet, bidon, saddlebags etc ....  (I hadn't given nicks or jersey a thought) I was set to hit the road.  

                                                                                    ( resto day)

Just to be sure I could survive my first attempt at bike commuting, I did a reconnaissance ride over the weekend. I found the quiet roads, and actually survived that experience.

Bike commuting was ok. I didn't die. I will admit that the first few weeks were a major challenge. I hadn't ridden in years, I thought I was totally out of my depth, and not in any sort of fit condition, but with perseverance and sheer determination I began to increase my fitness, and actually enjoy cycling again. It lasted six months.

Unfortunately yet another change of employment meant the bicycle was relegated to the shed and the motorcycle re-instated.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

The middle years

Growing up on 5 acres, as part of a much larger working dairy farm, there was plenty of scope for a young fellow to get to know the bush on a bicycle.
Most, actually ALL of my early cycling was through the Australian bush. (I was never allowed to experience tarmac riding)
Following cattle paths through the scrub, around dams, chasing livestock,  often with my faithful old labrador running alongside on my adventures.

      (it's still in the shed....awaiting restoration----one day)

By my early teens, I was over it... I'd explored and ridden the bush to the point of exasperation, bike riding had become boring. I had lost all interest in it.

It was a "kids" thing to do.

Life moved on..... 
High School,
Job hunting,
and some semblance of a career

by my late teens, I had discovered Motorcycles, and they ruled for the best part of my 20's and 30's

in the beginning..... some history

I can still remember the day I learnt to ride a bicycle, a gift from the Big Man in the Red Suit, way, way back in time...Xmas  Day the ripe old age of 5.
No training wheels for me. Dad wouldn't allow it,  "you'll learn to ride a real bike without that rubbish" he told me.

It was a big step up from the Cyclops tricycle of the last couple of years, to a big bike....I was SO excited!!  another Cyclops, shiny blue frame, nice chrome wheels, dark black tyres, and the obligatory handlebar streamers...woohoo!

Perched at the top of the "hill", at the door to Dad's Shed, looking excitedly at the clear run down the side of the house, leading to the front yard..(a distance of about 50yrds on a slope of about 4 degrees)... "remember" Dad said with a smile, "those back pedal brakes.... pedal backwards to get it to stop"  That's the only lesson I was given.... pedal backwards to stop... Ok, can't be too hard.

A few shaky turns of the pedals with Dad jogging beside me,  keeping me upright for the first few yards... before I knew it I'd hit the ground just before collecting the front fence....Well I had stopped... splayed out on the grass and gravel
Missing a bit of skin and bawling my eyes out, Dad walks down and just said "cut that out" "wheel it back to the shed and try again"    I remember enjoying something about that first effort, that I did as he said... amid sobs.
Dad and I took off again, this time I mastered the backpedal brakes but also managed to pedal a bit and stay upright when I stopped.  WOW that was great!   No invitation was needed to make further attempts to master this, I was thrilled at the feel of movement, high off the ground (16" wheels are HUGE to a 5 year old) tentative pedal strokes, and even managing to 'turn AND pedal' at the SAME time...
I must've cycled 2 miles in that yard before 9 a.m.