The Journey Towards Cycling
As a first post to my blog to kick things off and before I make things public to get a little bit of content into the site I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on where I’ve come from and how I got into cycling. You might have read my interview with ‘The Climbing Cyclist’ after winning my first road race Stratford to Dargo in September 2013 and since then things have come a long way. I had no idea what winning that race would mean and I honestly thought that I would be working an office job in 2014 after completing my degree. So here’s a bit more insight into my journey towards cycling.
At the age of 5 I started getting involved with sports. My older siblings both played basketball and I wanted to do the same. Even though I had absolutely no idea what I was doing out there and the fact that the ball was far too heavy for me I really enjoyed it. I narrowly missed out on being awarded most valuable player for the team that year after contributing 2 points during the season and acting as a handicap the rest of the time.
This was the starting point in my sporting career and two years later I started playing football. I played both of these sports until my final year (2010) of high school education at Eltham College and they gave me plenty of great experiences with highlights including playing basketball in America and football in Perth. It was the following year in 2011 that I decided to stop playing these two sports and instead turned my focus towards running.
It was at primary school in grade 4 when I had my first success at running taking out first place in the school cross country and placing top 10 in the district level. The same happened in grade 5 and I went one step further in grade 6 managing to win the district cross country. This led to competing at the state level cross country where I placed a not very respectable 40 something.
During year 7 I started running around the local streets for training and became more concerned about what I chose to eat. I remember the days when I had made a deal with my parents that I would only go to swimming training if I could eat McDonalds for dinner that same night as incentive but in year 7 my parents couldn’t even pay me to eat it.
My cross country running success continued as I won every school event from year 7 to year 12 and it was only during the later years that our sports director at the time convinced me to compete in the Athletics Victoria state cross country race – an event used as selection to represent Victoria at the nationals cross country. I made the team in year 11 and went off to compete at Nationals which was held in Nowra, Sydney that year. This was probably the biggest exposure I had to people who did athletics as their main sport and many also did triathlons too.
Competing at nationals made me really motivated to join Diamond Valley athletics club and not long afterwards I also registered with the Eltham Triathlon club. This meant i needed a road bike and ended up getting an entry level composite Bianchi Via Nirone C2C with Campagnolo Veloce group set as an early christmas present so I could use it in the upcoming Gatorade triathlon series in 2009-2010 season. I’ll never forget my first ride on the road with Chris Beare who showed me where and how to ride. We ended up doing over 100km’s through to Whittlesea and coming home via Kinglake. I bonked.
Like everyone who starts off cycling I broke just about every velominati rule written. I would head out on a training ride in a world tour kit accompanied with ankle socks, triathlon shoes and clip-on bars. I wore a helmet that didn’t fit me and running sunnies which I thought were cool at the time. Oh, and I hated coffee and never wanted to stop to eat something at a bakery. I thought riding 200km a month of inconsistent training was lots and I wouldn’t really touch the bike at all during winter. At least it was enough for me to manage the 20km bike leg for the Gatorade triathlons without losing too much time before the run.
At the end of 2009 I went to Montpellier, France for a cultural exchange program as I was studying French at school. During that time I became friends with Edward Green and we spent a bit of time running over there. That friendship became pivotal for my transition into cycling since Ed was a far more enthusiastic rider at that stage and convinced me to ride more when we returned to Australia. We ended up riding the 2011 and 2012 Great Victorian Bike Rides and started to do a little bit more riding including Around The Bay in a Day and our first ride with the 7 Peaks Domestique Series up Lake Mountain.
At this point in my life I was still competing with the athletics club and had just started boundary umpiring local football for part time work after deciding not to continue playing the sport itself. But riding was becoming more enjoyable and that Christmas I was given a BMC teammachine SLR01 which was definitely a jump too far into the high end market considering I didn’t know much about bikes and was still very inconsistent with training. Over that summer I conquered more mountains with Ed as part of the Domestique Series and we decided to do the 3 Peaks Challenge in March which motivated us to do more training.
I met plenty of new people that summer thanks to The Climbing Cyclist and Hells 500 and was eventually associated with Cyril Dixon. He recommended me to go on a shop ride hosted by Peak Cycles in Heidelberg which included an infamous Strava ambassador and KOM (king of the mountain) assassin Andrew Stalder. I became a regular of the bunch who were training for the upcoming Amy Gillett Gran Fondo in September and this is where my riding really started to improve.
I ended up placing 6th in the Fondo. This result motivated me to register for a Cycling Victoria road race where the next one happened to be Stratford to Dargo. This was my first road race and maiden victory that resulted in signing with health.com.au – Search2Retain cycling team for the 2014 National Road Series (NRS). It was at this stage that I decided to stop running and commit to cycling.
Since Stratford to Dargo I’ve been in Thailand for a 10 day training camp, raced in the Australian under 23 national championships and competed in four National Road Series Tours around Australia with plenty more racing on the horizon. Life takes you in strange directions sometimes and you never know where you’ll end up so make sure you enjoy* the ride!
Thanks for reading,
*enjoyment can be found from eating chocolate jam donuts from bakeries. A personal favourite…