2011 was the year I became a roadie. The year had barely started and I turned 40 with a serious compulsion to get in shape. I’d seen it coming though, and had a good headstart the previous year, with the help of a trusty 15 year old mountain bike. A colleague twenty years my senior and a lifelong roadie, loaned me a stack of bike porn (Cycling Plus magazines to be more precise). These gave me an insight into modern cycling, whetting my appetite so that when the next round of the Cycle to Work scheme opened up, it was time to bite. That was July. Within a few weeks I was the proud owner of a new Trek carbon road bike. A Madone 3.1, if anyone’s really interested.
I still remember the first ride. Obviously the position felt a little odd at first, but I recall the gear shifting being an effortless delight, and when it came to climbing hills, the difference in mass was astonishing, even without the gear range of the old MTB. Finally the thing that slapped me in the face the most that first time was the sheer lack of resistance rolling downhill. This thing descended with more thrills than anything at Alton Towers.
A random list of notable effects/achievements/moments from 2011:
- Completing the Etape Cymru 100 mile event, just 8 weeks or so after buying my first road bike.
- Not having to walk up any of the hills on the Etape Cymru (and plenty were).
- Cycling to work and back (20 miles each way) and the sheer disbelief this caused in some colleagues.
- Opening boxes from Wiggle with my 5 year old (he loves the little bags of sweets they chuck in)
- Discovering new and amazing places to ride.
- The time I rounded a corner to find literally hundreds of pheasants in the road. They all ran ahead of me for about a mile. Completely surreal.
- Getting a decent front light and getting out at night. Magical.
- Rediscovering proper MTB’ing with my 13 year old, at the Llandegla trails.
- Getting my 5 year old to shed his stabilisers.
- Fixing a puncture by moonlight with the Gemenid meteor shower sprinkling the atmosphere
- Discovering the cosy toastiness of neoprene overshoes.
- Losing a bit of weight and looking and feeling better.
- Having more energy generally.
- Using my Garmin to chase my own “ghost”.
So, looking ahead to 2012 – what am I aiming for?
Firstly, to keep going and not lose momentum. It feels like I’ve made a lasting lifestyle change, but I’m self aware enough to recognise that I sometimes flit to and from various interests. I want to take part in more sportives, and have already signed up for the Cheshire Cat 2012, which is March 25th. To cement all of the above in place, I want to get involved with a cycling club, to enjoy the social aspect too. It’s nice to have company out on the road. I’ve made a start on this already, and tomorrow (1st Jan 2012) I’ll be going along to a short (9 mile) time trial which happens to start from a location less than a mile from my house. It’s organised by Rhyl CC and I would imagine that a few guys from VC Melyd will be there too, so I’m looking forward to meeting a few folks and maybe it’ll lead to a more active involvement.
It’s been interesting to discover that some old friends have also found cycling as a way to stay in shape as we get older, and I hope to reconnect with a few by sharing some rides together in 2012.
Happy New Year!