Sunday, 3 August 2014

Re-birth of a Cyclist

Well epiphany done and dusted it was time to decide what I was actually going to do......

Bear in mind this was in 2012 and my memory kinda sucks these days so I'll try to put this together in some slightly sane form that at least attempts to make sense.

My wife Ruth had been diagnosed with Graves' Disease, now while this isn't exactly impending doom it quite rightly knocked her confidence and also put paid to what at the time were plans for the #3 little bundle of trouble. On the upside Ruth decided enough was enough and it was time to do something different that would give her plenty of motivation and help settle her body down and into a semblance of normality.......... Running!!!! (You might remember I dislike running..... not completely but fairly comprehensively) More importantly she ended up wanting to do a Half Marathon and then a Full Marathon (absolutely crackers I tell ya).

Now at the same time I (being somewhat of a Facebook wh*re) was stalking some of my amazing old friends from school and the Air Force and their athletic endeavours. Ruth got the ball rolling and watching Kaytee succeed over the years at anything Cycling, Jamie at Ironman, Graham at Road & Mountain Biking, Carl at Ironman, Joe finishing the London Marathon and Donna at Endurance Running just cemented it....... I needed to move my arse.,,,, significantly.

I was 97kg and that arse was unbalancing the earths orbit, plus I hadn't see my belt buckle in 5 years and since I'm fairly tall it did somewhat hide it all however to me it was blatantly obvious that I'd gone beyond simply unfit into plain lazy. So with the plan to support my wife while she trained by at least being active (and in the interests of not being a future health statistic) I decided to at least get a few rides in and so dusted off the old mountain bike. After all it was only 16 years since I'd ridden a reasonable amount, it was hardly going to be the end of the world.....

OMG..... I'm not one for three lettered abbreviations but this one does fit quite nicely. That little old 16km ride damn near killed me. Actually I'm fairly sure it technically did and a random roaming goat most likely resuscitated me from the ditch into which I collapsed.

Now there is nothing more galling to someone who used to be fairly competitive than being forced to realise that they can no longer gallop up that hill or bolt along that flat road....... I was right royally pissed off, which at this point was probably rather a good thing.

After I finished swearing at Ruth about it and between gulping copious amounts of water I started to think about that ride and what it meant. In 16 years I had gone from a fairly well tuned cyclist to a jelly legged rookie who had to WALK up hills....... not surprisingly I got the bit between my teeth and decided that was it. I refused to contemplate puffing my way round the boys sports fields for the next couple of decades so I made a pact with Ruth. She'd do her running and I'd trial the idea of getting back into cycling.

Having rather stupidly sold all my gear over 12 years earlier I decided to buy a reasonable steed off TradeMe that would give me enough kit to get by with until I knew whether or not I was going to carry this through and really make something of it. So in August 2012 after a couple of weeks of searching and $600 worth of investment I picked up an older EMC2 with shoes, pedals, pump and kit bag and a cheap set of cycling kit (luckily I'd kept my old helmet as a memento of the old days and it still fitted).

With a fair bit of steely determination, not to mention the acknowledgment that this was going to hurt like hell, I mapped out a training plan and a first event to do (I don't train well without a target). Slowly I got comfortable at 15km, then 20km and so on until after 2 months I was finally riding 80km for a long ride and managing a minimum of 4 training rides per week without completely seizing up not to mention bawling like a baby every time I saw a hill.

This was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. Knowing full well what you were once capable of made nearly every training ride a psychological battle with myself, I am fairly sure there are quite a few roadside animals around our area that now have a far greater appreciation for swearing than they really need. Every ride was hurting like hell and every now and then I'd have to rest a couple of extra days to let the exercise bed back in and manage my recoveries. But it was making a difference slowly and surely, distances were going up and so were the average speeds. To be honest (and in the words of the great Greg Lemond) it still hasn't gotten any easier but I have gotten faster....... a lot faster.

So in October 2012 it was time to ride my first official fun ride in over 16 years.......... I was looking forward to it and at the same time was as nervous as hell, but more about that a bit later on :P.

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