2013’s Obsession: Cycling

5 December 2013 #Thoughts

I have a tendency to go from a slight interest in something to being entirely consumed by it in short time. In 2012 I took up running, like any adult that wants to be taken seriously. In 2013 it’s been cycling, after running injuries forced me to seek out an alternative.

So with a few hundred dollars in hand and no real idea what I was getting into I bought my first bike. A second hand, years old Giant bike in decent condition.

Thousands of kilometres (and likely thousands of dollars) later I’m still no expert on the activity but here’s a few thoughts for anyone interested in taking it up.

West Head, Sydney

Easily my favourite ride so far, West Head in Sydney

There’s always something to buy.

I must have said “that’s the last thing I’ll need to buy” on a fortnightly basis this year. The reality is that you don’t need much more than a bike and helmet to go cycling. But every little extra piece just seems so appealing (and easy to justify).

Then once you’ve got one of everything it’s time to replace everything you bought the first time (probably because you bought cheap). In 12 months I’ve already begun to replace the cheap shoes, cheap pump and now almost 12 months to the day I got involved I replaced the cheap bike that I started with.

Luckily I had kept the artefacts of my previous obsessions, so my Xbox games went to eBay all year and turned into cycling accessories…

Bike Wash

Friday afternoon used to just be about air in the tyres and oil on the chain. Now it’s an hours-long degrease, clean and polish too. With some assistance…

Even when it’s bad, it’s good.

Perhaps my favourite part of cycling is the adventure. Not the destination itself or the speed you travelled. How you got there is the fun part — whether you enjoyed it at the time or not.

I began a strict schedule of 5am Saturday rides which began in January, but I stubbornly continued this late into June when it was dark, cold and I was not prepared. My clothes were not warm enough. My light was not bright enough to see a Wallaby through the fog that stopped centimetres from my front wheel and scared me to half to death.

That same cold morning I recall pushing along the pedals thinking I just wanted to hop off the bike, fall in a hole and forget about it. Once I had returned home it felt like conquering a mountain. No matter how bad the ride is while you’re on the bike, finishing it always like an achievement. Even if your final destination just your own home.

Cold foggy morning

You have no idea how cold it was this morning…

Don’t be intimidated

Lastly I’d encourage anyone taking up cycling to join a group as soon as possible. I’d always looked at other cyclists around and got put off. The bikes, the clothes — everyone else seemed to be operating on another level. Until I was talked into coming along on a shop ride by a client of mine.

I’ve now been riding almost every Saturday with the Bikeline group and it’s been great fun. More importantly (I think) I’ve become a better cyclist in the last few months than I had going out on my own every weekend for half a year.

I’ve also learnt quickly about taking care of my bike. Sometimes the advice was abrupt but there’s a great sense of encouragement amongst the group.

Bike in the grass

Oh … and if you’re planning on going over the handlebars, pick a grassy corner

I can’t say for certain whether 2014 holds a new obsession and perhaps all my bike gear ends up on eBay. For now though I just can’t see it.

I’m hooked.