I started cycling after getting quite fat on an all inclusive holiday in 2017, my first ride on a rusting old mountain bike was an eye watering 4km, which is kind of funny looking back. I built this up over the year, bought a new TREK bike and did a few Sportif events, finishing the year riding 5000 kilometres, which is equvilent of my house to New York! It’s been a huge learning curve, not just about bikes, and chubby bodies, but also about patience and time. I’ve really loved my first year in the arse flattening saddle, so here’s s few things I’ve enjoyed, and that have stood out during that first year.
There’s something satisfying about that feeling of being worn out, the aching legs in bed at night, the taste of Iron in your mouth after a long ride, and the pumping of my heart on a ride. I’m fascinated by how sometimes my body takes over and shuts down, or stands up and pushes on without me always making those decisions. I wonder how far I can push myself without having a heart attack, and what is possible with my 40 year old body. I talk to my heart and legs as if they’re different parts of the same machine, telling my legs to ignore the heart and keep pushing and having a quiet word with my heart to clam the fuck down, and get on with it. It’s probably a sign of mental illness, but constantly overriding my brain’s natural urge to flop down on the grass and nap is where I’m finding an electricity that keeps be coming back.
This is a cliche, but I’ve really enjoyed all of the people I’ve met, in bike shops, on the road, at events and people who I knew before that I didn’t know were cyclists. You know how most people you meet seem to be arseholes? Well almost to a man (I haven’t met any women) cyclists have a similar kind of aura about them, they’re very kind, smart people with a good sense of humour, and always willing to help and advise. It’s just a shame I’m one of them now, as I’ll be fucking all of that up for everyone, but that won’t effect me… which is great! I feel like I’ve been accepted into this slightly secret club and the more I poke around into it, the more interesting and creative passages I find.
I’ve never been a very patent man, I’ve aways wanted things done quickly, my inbox cleared, a project signed off, and in my younger days this was at a cost to the work. Starting a ride when you know you’ve got 100+ kilometres to do can be kind of hard if you fixate on the Garmin, watching the 10ths of Ks slowly click round is a mind-killer, but there are times when you lose focus on the numbers, you hear the hard rubber drone of the tyres, the soft clicks of the gears and the nature around you, in these moments you forget about the distance and you drift across the kilometres with your thoughts, then next time you check you’re bought back to reality – “WHAT! I’VE ONLY DONE 0.8 KM”, and you frantically scramble to get back into that drifty headspace where you’re not grilling the numbers, but, sadly it’s impossible to force. It’s changed my relationship with time, I’m less anxious to grab and pull through it, and happier to let it wash over me at it’s own pace.
The roads are dangerous places, and there’s definitely some drivers out there who take great pride in scaring cyclists, it’s hard to understand this mentality, but they must subconsciously think that if they do kill or injure a cyclist it wouldn’t bother them as it’s our fault for being on the road. At some point they’ve detached the Human Being from the cyclist and this has made it easy for them to prove a dangerous point, that cyclists shouldn’t be on the road. So far I’ve been lucky, but I’ve had a few close calls, a couple of times I’ve lost my shit and lambasted a driver, only to have to pull up to them at some lights where I quietly pray they didn’t see me. I often play out the arguments I’d have with drivers if they ever pulled over, and in my head I’d slay them with facts about Road Tax and human rights, in reality I’d crumble in to a mumbling apology and ring my wife.
Cycling is well boring, it doesn’t make for good stories, (unless there’s doping involved) it’s not as cool as it thinks it is, the clothes are ridiculous and ridiculously expensive, in fact everything is expensive. I look like a total bellend in the gear, my wife and kids all take the piss out of me, and it’s a huge time suck, I have literally no free time at all now, which means I’ve had to let a few things go, my family, career, personal hygiene and development, friends, and spending any money on anything this isn’t cycling based. There’s nothing like getting up with a soft excited buzz in the pit of your stomach as the sun rises on a warm July morning, and railing the roads with no cars around, with your ears full of bird calls and church bells, the fresh air streaming through your foggy head. It’s changed my life in one short year and I feel I’ve found a new home, let’s just hope I don’t ruin it for everyone else.