Well actually, the real question is how did I ever come to be a road cyclist – aren’t I a bit old for that?
Clearly not as I own more lycra now than I ever thought I’d admit to. So how did I get here, especially at my age? Inspired to write about this by this post over at Women.Cyclists, I’ll start at the beginning.
TC and I were feeling a little old, slow and heavy and decided we really needed to get healthier. Amongst other changes – mainly diet – the first step was to increase our regular exercise. I’ve suffered from arthritis in my ankles since I was a young adult, so running and even a lot of walking was out of the question for me. We both owned a bike – you know, the good old one you’ve had for years & it sits in the shed only being brought out on occasion? So we started there & off we went.
That first ride was an eye-opener. We didn’t even get 5km up the road before we were huffing & puffing and I was getting a bit worried about TC and the fact that his bike had this wierd suspension thing happening, so every time he pedalled hard, he simply bounced up & down and didn’t go much faster! Off to the bike shop the next day & we had our first “serious” bikes – Giant hybrids. Something like this, comfy saddle, suspension in the front forks, but heavy.
But, on the upside, we pushed ourselves further and further on these bikes until we had made huge inroads into our health & fitness campaign. We started enjoying our rides so much I even considered the occasional commute to work – a whole 8km away! Off we set on a trial ride to my work one Sunday. We made it, but as my work was located on the top of a big hill, we had three stops on the way. I had been riding less than a year.
After about a year we decided we needed faster wheels. We were the ones every road cyclist was passing on our rides. We were the ones turning to each other & commenting “show off!” each time and laughing – but secretly we wanted to be faster like that. So off we went again to the next bike shop. This shop offered free lifetime servicing as long as you owned the bike, so we were rapt with that. TC got himself a proper road bike straight up while I went for the more cautious option – a Giant CRX2, described as a “flat bar road bike”. However, my male cycling colleagues took great delight in telling me it wasn’t a “real” road bike! True, it did have slightly fatter tyres than “real” ones, and a slightly heavier frame, but it suited me and I liked it. Well I ended up upgrading both the gearing, and changed to narrower tyres anyway, after my first crash – during the first week of owning the new bike. The crash was bad enough to see me covered in bruises (I counted 13 separate ones, some very big and colourful) and to see my beautiful new bike broken with bits hanging off. Hence the new gearing and the opportunity to upgrade it slightly.
Well my little silver bike saw me riding much much more, including starting to regularly commute to work. By this time I had cut the trip time in half (from that initial trial on the hybrid) and with no stops up the big hill. I was powering! During this year we also did our first cycling tour – a week in the Loire Valley in France in the summer. Obviously that started another obsession, I’ll write about that another time. I also managed to clock up over 6000km in my one year with this little bike. I had been riding for 2 years.
TC was well ahead of me though. His road bike was sleek & fast – compared to mine anyway – and his commute to work was double the distance to mine, so he was clocking up huge kms. To the point where all his bits & pieces were starting to wear out.
So how did I end up on the “real” road bike? Well it happened like this… one day our foot pump broke, so off we went to the bike shop to get another. When we got there we saw this big sign proclaiming “Liquidation Sale – everything must go -40% off all bikes”.
Well I saw and tried out this most gorgeous white, Avanti womens, all-carbon road bike and I couldn’t resist. TC also liked an equivalent red number for himself – so we asked the shop to hold them for us til the end of the day while we went home & madly worked out our finances. Of course we went back for them, credit card in hand – who wouldn’t really with those discounts? Even the colours matched my favourite football team (white with royal purple). I was a happy girl!
I got my little baby in Feb 2011 and I love her. Why? She is light, fast, seems to fit me perfectly, and I just feel incredible when I’m riding – I never want to stop. Even the saddle is comfortable, so much so I have no saddle issues on longer rides of 100km or more. She made commuting a joy and by that stage I had moved so that my commute was 20km each way – and I did that up to 3 times a week. I have been riding for 3 years. I have come a long way!
Unfortunately I couldn’t bring her to France with me – shipping is way too expensive when you go halfway around the world – so after only riding her for 8 months, she is in storage waiting for me. I am currently riding a “Serious” road bike which, while OK, is nothing like my lovely Avanti. When I eventually get back, at least I know I have my little pride & joy waiting for me. Now I have one more stage to get to though – yes, the good old clip in shoes. The last road riding fear I have to conquer. Not bad for my age!