Never too old - Blayney to Bathurst and Beyond with MCV
Hi I am an old school cyclist, in brief my love of cycling started like many riding to school and then racing in the 1980’s and 1990’s in the days of steel frames, very skinny tires, non-indexed gears on the down tube, 6 speed with a 42 – 53 crank (probably explains the knee problems I developed) no helmets, no clipless pedals, no zips on Jerseys, no gas cartridges and no gels. Just a couple of Bananas, a Mars bar and a hand pump. We did have derailleurs, coffee shops and tubes, hey I am not that old.
Following the Tour de France was by way of a 2 minute clip on the Sunday Channel 9 Wide World of Sports show. Phil Anderson flew the Flag for Australian cycling in Europe. Bicycle brands like Europa and Apollo where on the local market and I was lucky to score a second hand Bianchi. I think we were even measuring our training rides in miles.
Training rides for me were with Randwick Botany Cycling club including early morning weekday rides and a Sunday long ride out to Waterfall plus the occasional ride through the National Park. Saturdays included racing around Heffron Park, some things never change.
Anyway this is not a history lesson although I somehow manage to get it into most conversations.
Along came marriage, children, a mortgage, work commitments, travel, a 4WD, a few motorbikes, surfing and many competing interests so that by 40 cycling took a back seat with the occasional Sunday ride out to Watsons Bay. Somewhere in time I upgraded to 7 speed indexed gears and clip less pedals but the big move forward was in 2011 when I purchased from MC a Giant TCR Advanced Carbon Fibre with compact cranks and gear levers on the handle bars (hey that’s a good idea). With a professional bike fitting and some excellent advice I was able to change my style from grinding big gears to spinning which eliminated any knee pain.
OK I hit the big 60 in 2018 and thought if not now, when am I going to really get back into cycling, after all I think I’m pretty fit for age. I thought I would try the MC classic ride on a Saturday morning, WOW it was great. A bunch ride where they wait at the top of hills for everyone to catch up and what are these two words I had never heard of “ease up” what do they mean, why are people even thinking such words on a training ride. Then there was another revelation the word “split”, the group was split and was easing up to allow everyone to re-join. Something had changed in the 20 years since I rode in a bunch it always was fun but this was better. I soon discovered the great organisation skills of General Harvey and the drafting pleasure behind the big engines of Kev, Justin and Julian.
Riding in a bunch can be a love hate relationship, love the drafting but having had a few bunch crashes in my time I was hesitant. Hello what’s going on a bunch that talk’s safety, everyone makes calls and they have an organised sweep. Fellow riders encourage you, support and there is even chat on the ride. Same as the 1990’s but different. It felt good.
I got hooked, after a few months I added the weekday rides and the Sunday long rides. Then came a ride to Palm Beach with MC Velo yeah why not, well I was spent but loved it hey maybe I can do this Blayney to Bathurst ride.
Training began, a goal in mind it all came rushing back. The burn in the legs, the fun of hill climbs and the joy of drafting behind a bunch as you ride through the national park. It is really very easy just stay upright and spend time in the saddle. It is even easier on rides when everyone around you is encouraging (thanks Kev, Julian, Julia, Paul, Tim, Justin etc. etc.), and a 20 something rider eases up and helps you re-join the bunch (thanks Maddy) plus MCV organise the accommodation bookings and coordination for the trip to Bathurst.
There are very few sports that you can enjoy together irrespective of age and ability. Harvey was even able to gentrify me into a modern kit and long socks, my kids are amazed. I do still like some of my retro kit and sneak it out when no one is looking.
I initially thought if I can manage to get back 10%of my cycling fitness and drop a few kilo’s I would be happy, well with the MCV bunch support I have lost 9 kilo and am 50% back to where I was in my thirties maybe even more and enjoying my riding more than ever.
The Blayney to Bathurst ride was great I sat behind a few of the MC big engines (thankyou Kev and Dave) and drafted for over 50klm until I finally got dropped and finished the last 50klm with a smile on my face. I smashed it so much I did it again in the Brisbane Fondo a month later. Love this riding on closed roads, this never happened in the 1980’s (sorry going back in time again).
The MCV family have been so supportive on rides and friendly chatting over a coffee or a meal, not to mention there is something good for the ego to keep up with much younger riders. Riding in the bunch has opened up riding destinations that I have never done before and doing it safely. Added to this is the great service in the shop, Ash, Justin, James and Jamal can always be relied upon for good advice, great mechanical service and answering the same question from customers for the hundredth time as though it was the first time.
I look forward to spinning those pedals for years to come and enjoying many coffees with the MCV crew.
Cheers Ride Safe
Emmanuel AKA Manny