Sooooo how to begin this little blog on my cycling journey?
I guess to start I should explain a little about my cycling background. As a kid I got to try a fair few sports, particularly at primary school, thanks to my very supportive parents. There were the staple Kiwi traditional's such as Cricket, Rugby, Soccer, but given my ball handling skills are similar to that of a single celled amoeba I rapidly headed in the direction of other options. I enjoyed hockey and loved sailing but what really clicked was cycling.
It really shouldn't have been much of a surprise as given my rural upbringing if you wanted to get anywhere or do anything you were left with few options; either you hocked a lift with the parental's or you got there under your own steam and let's face it the quickest way was by bike and didn't involve bribery with chores....
Eventually at the final year of my primary schooling when i was 12 I entered a little trial Duathlon in town as while I am not a fan of running it kinda sounded like fun. It actually went remarkably well, if I remember rightly I finished 6th........ more importantly I beat everyone on the bike leg and I was riding Mum's old step through bike........ needless to say I kind of realized this might be my sort of sport.
When I got to College the next year it took a while to slot cycling in as nothing existed in the school program at all but thanks to the forethought of a couple of motivated teachers and some friends who banded together to enter the then VERY fledgling Secondary School Triathlon series we started to enter a few team events. My role was always the team cyclist and thanks to having some fantastic team mates we got some good results, then as the years went by some great results and a lot of wins, usually against teams with some sizeable budgets while we continued to operate on a shoestring mainly at the cost of our parents. By then the Triathlon Team had morphed into the much bigger Multisport Team covering all sorts of disciplines and under which I continued to chug away as a team cyclist.
At the prompting of Mum & Dad and the advice of the team coach I joined the local cycling club. Back then this was the Auckland League of Wheelmen and was a rather eliteist outfit (as cycling clubs often can be) and I think perhaps this was where it went a bit wrong. I was cycling, multisporting and sailing across both seasons but the big difference to me between the two sports was that the Waiuku Sailing Club & any Multisport Event were awesome, supportive, enjoyable and fulfilling whereas the Auckland League of Wheelmen was (to me at least) standoffish, eliteist, hyper-competitive and for a young chap not as fun.
This is not to say my results were not good..... in fact looking back now they were fairly bloody awesome given my lack of knowledge and club support which is why I perhaps get a little annoyed with myself these days thinking back on it.
I won my first race....... partly by hammering it home in a solo break and partly because the handicapper made the silly mistake of judging me by my equipment (an old Morrison 16 Speed) and not the blunt suggestions of my coach, parents and a close mate in the same club. Needless to say they only made that mistake once. After that the results came a little more sparingly but still plenty of podium places and in the first season a silver medal in the club champs. The following season was just as good but I was over the club and the sneering at each other over equipment and results......... so I never went back and just focused on being a team cyclist and sailor instead.
To explain my comment about being annoyed, I think perhaps I had strayed into an area of sport I didn't understand..... one where results mattered and equipment was taken seriously because the sport was seen as a future career for some, whereas at that time, for me, it was all about enjoyment. Looking back now I wish maybe I had persevered and perhaps gotten into the club further and who knows where it might have led if I had understood that professional sport could be a future option.
But let's face it that didn't happen and I left school after 7th Form with good marks and an A Bursary to join the Air Force and since then work took over in my life...... but that's the next chapter!