I'm not sure where to start with this piece. There are so many threads to the centre of my thinking. Maybe I start in the centre. I want to write about cycling and what it means to be an ageing cyclist. An ageing me. But when I think about cycling I have to think about what it is that I like about it. And then I have to remember all the lovely rides I've done and remember my brother and those wet rides, those tough, testing rides and strange places we'd get to. The first time I got saturated out on a ride, stopping under a tree with him, and he in his typical way shrugging and saying, "it will be over soon" And it was and we rode on down Beach Rd and home again. Then the black, wet winter night when we first attended an Audax Club meeting, in Bells Hotel, South Melbourne and were caught up in the imagination of maybe doing a Paris-Brest-Paris, Randonee. The rides around regional Victoria, north, south, east and west, the Alpine Classic, those sad last years as he became ill and we clipped our wings, cut our cloth to suit the situation. Going up to the Alpine Classic that time he was dying and feeling guilty the whole time, that he wasn't there, and then within 12 months going once again as my next brother lay, desperately ill, waiting for a liver transplant. You see, these cycling stories became tainted by pain and illness. I lost a thread, I had injuries, not just of the body, but in my heart and soul. And so, year by year, I lost fitness, I accumulated physical injuries, a bulging disc, a knee out of alignment, arthritis in my hands, eventually in my hips and feet. In the intervening years, I've lost my mother and a sister, and shortly I will lose another brother.
I ride. I look for ways to motivate myself and I get back on the bike. I've taken my bike to France and to New Zealand (twice). I look for adventure trails, not quite MTB, but nearly. I know I'm not so fast now. I know it's unlikely I'll be as fast as I was in 2007 ever again. Now, there are so many rides I want to do. I read magazines and explore websites and live others experiences vicariously. I get a kick out of reading about racing cyclists, I love watching crazy people flying down insane mountain ridges on You Tube, and tracking people doing the Great Divide (USA) or the Tour de Aetoroa (NZ), or people bike-packing in remote corners of the earth. I want to be born again and do it all.
Yesterday I rode a personal time trial of 20 kilometres. I rode my fat-tyred, flat bar bike on our local bike path, slowing through the off leash dog park and though the centre of the local village. Not much you say. I posted a PB (of the last 3 years) of 22.4 kph. Today I could barely move. My hips and hands were locked up and the pain in my hips was a misery. Eventually I took painkillers and by mid-afternoon, I could move again. 20 kilometres! I shake my head. I used to have to do 200k to feel like this.