I remember the first ride vividly. As you would when you’ve sat on a cane lounge in the kitchen, trying to recover for an hour and a half, just concentrating on breathing, unable to rise.
At 42 I’d decided it was time to shape up. Not that tennis, the occasional game of cricket or golf and a few swims over summer had seen me turn to jelly, but there had to be consistency of effort. So when I heard that a good mate Dennis, had been riding on the weekend with a few blokes, and after reading Armstrong’s books on a flight back from a NZ conference for a bit of perspective, bravado got the better of me. I dusted off my old clunker that we had bought as newlyweds some 15 years earlier and thought I’d get it checked over by the local bike shop. It didn’t take many weeks for me to understand the look of distain on the mechanics face that day, but at the time I thought he was just being arrogant, with a price to match.
Clothing? ” Oh just a tee-shirt” was Dennis’ advice, (on a sub-10 degree May morning mind you), needless to say my fingers were purely for aesthetic value not too long after leaving Hawthorn and at what seemed a hectic pace, my legs were beginning to buckle. After stopping for me opposite the Royal Brighton Yacht Club, the guys raised my seat some 2 or 3 inches, but by that time the damage was done and given my next memory of the ride to Black Rock is from the couch, I assume I just plodded on for the remainder of the 40kms.
Despite investing in a discounted bike the next Wednesday, it could well have ended shortly thereafter, as with many a resolution, if not for Dennis’ calls of a Friday night, confirming the early torture would continue.
Around the Bay in a Day became the common focus with each of us keeping the other honest over the years and my desire to plan ahead saw the inclusion of a few Kinglake (then Otway) rides to compliment the standard training and longer jaunts to Frankston as the day neared for the FOB’s (Fat Old Bastards).
By 2010 the 8-10 originally riding “the Bay in a day” had peaked then dwindled and while Saturdays and Sundays were still going strong a few were up for a new challenge.
For some of the better riders talk of “3 Peaks” began and when the question was asked, I foolishly thought why not, it’s just another ride.
But then time came to get serious, and one particular evening that December, perhaps too serious I became.