So this is the start of my blog….. where do I begin, and what is this about?
I decided to start to document my journey….. my journey from an unhealthy, slightly overweight, lazy, heavily drinking, 30 something into a healthier, normal weight, active, non drinking nearly 40 year old.
The journey to becoming this accidental cyclist/triathlete started while my then girlfriend (now wife) were travelling. We had decided to quit our jobs in 2006 to go travelling round Australia and New Zealand for 12 months. Now these experiences were something special, but one thing stood out from these 12 months, that every time we got on a bike we had fun. Seems like a an extreme thing to do to realise this, but there were many other things I took away from this experience, but this is not what this blog is about 🙂
We had both ridden bikes when we were kids, but that freedom and fun of cycling had evaded us both for years. Adulthood took hold and the memories of childhood bike rides soon faded into the everyday mundane of life.
In Perth, Australia we borrowed bikes from the owners of the house we had rented a room in for a month. Amongst many adventures included a trip to Rottnest Island and a day that is still etched into my ever forgetful memory – we met quokkas on this trip and I took a photo that is still my facebook profile image to this day, it has never changed!!!
With this adventure still fresh in our memory we hunted out a cycling experience when we hit New Zealand. Immediately we found the Otago Central Rail Trail bike trip http://www.otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz – a bike trip across the heart of South Island New Zealand.
This was a 100 mile trip on an old railway line that had been converted into a multi use trail. When we made the call to enquire we were met with shock – you see I hadn’t yet mentioned that days prior to this we were skiing in New Zealand…… yes it was coming to the back end of winter. What this did mean was that we had the trail to ourselves. This 100 miles journey took us 4 days, with us doing about 25 miles and day. On the first day with sore arse and legs the bike got flung to the ground and tears were shed when T said “I cannot go on”. But despite the pain we continued and this journey turned into one of the magical highlights of our trip.
Upon returning to UK we both decided that we wanted to once again throw our legs over a top tube and keep on pedalling. And this is where the journey really begins….
When back in good old Blighty we headed to Halfords (I have since learnt that there are indeed other and much better bike shops to go to) and bought ourselves our first “mountain style” bikes as Christmas gifts. Both Carreras, but for the life of me I cannot tell you models – Vulcan, or Vulcran I think.
We did the odd bike ride together taking them to places like Salcey Forest and Pitsford Reservoir. But soon I realised how unfit I was, and a 5 mile bike ride was wiping me out for the rest of the day. Could I cycle more I asked myself. I tried pushing on to the 10 mile mark. The day I hit double figures was a day I don’t forget.
It was a journey from my house to Pitsford Reservoir. I was riding a bike that was supposedly designed for off road use on tarmac and hard packed track. I got 3/4 of the way round Pitsford Reservoir before a puncture put paid to my return trip on the road – a phone call home to pick me followed. But I had hit the magical double figure mark. I was starting to get hooked. Next weekend I managed the whole trip which took me to 18 miles. YES 18 miles in one bike ride. I am SUPERMAN. I can achieve anything. These Pro’s need to be worried. I felt like I could take on anything.
Despite only riding maybe once every 2 weeks I was enjoying the freedom that cycling gave me.
The next challenge was to cycle home from work. This was a 20mile road trip from Milton Keynes to Northampton. Took me exactly 2hrs, and I recall very vividly collapsing on the front lawn as soon as I got home. Needless to say I bagged myself a lift back into the office the next morning.
Soon after winter kicked in and the bike got put away. The weight kept getting piled on, and the bike was getting used less and less. But that hook was still there. Despite increasing miles I had realised that riding a mountain style bike on tarmac was not as enjoyable as riding it off road……… and so my first real mountain bike was bought. It was the Cube Ltd Race 2009 and it to allowed me to do the kind of riding I was starting to thrive on, and the kind the Carrera really did not enjoy…….
As you can see my first love was and still is Mountain Biking. Now being in Northamptonshire we are not blessed with Mountains. And barely have any significant hills that you can talk about. We have rolling countryside and plenty of it. So this led me to doing more and more cross country cycling, but still only once or twice a week, but I was still searching for that thrill of the trails. Visits to Harlestone Firs and Woburn Sands became regular occurrences. Plenty of single track for me to power down and to practice my trail skills. My bike handling skills have improved considerably since these early days, but I still have that fear factor that you get as a 30something.
I was soon joined on these rides by my good friend Ego (he has many a name, but he will always been known as Ego). He too was just starting out on his own cycling journey.
And this is where it all changed for me…….
Riding with, and competing against Ego has led me on a path to where I now own 5 bikes – 2 mountain bikes, 2 road bikes and 1 “turbo training” bike. It has also led me to where I am today and that is a man on the brink of doing his first ever Sprint Triathlon in June followed by his first ever Long Course Triathlon in July. How I got to this midlife crisis will be detailed in the next instalment.
Once the background is in place I hope to be able to entertain you all with weekly updates on my training and what it takes to hold down a job and a life while putting in the effort and time needed to train for what I believe will be the biggest challenge I have ever faced.
With that I would like to thank you for reading and I hope to see you back here soon.