Having not ridden on the road in nine weeks, I had mixed emotions about hitting the tarmac yesterday. Whilst I was excited to get back out there, I was extremely nervous. I headed out on Beach Road early on Sunday morning, at the time between the sun rising and people venturing out on their Sunday drive when it is safe. It was a brilliant time to ride; having only ridden Beach Road on a Saturday it was like I had discovered a new place to ride in Melbourne, not the same road as 24hrs earlier. It was peaceful, calm and strangely quiet despite there still being possibly hundreds of riders on the road. They were Sunday Riders. The ones who are there to enjoy the pleasure of a ride, to get outside and feel the wind in their hair, and on any sort of bike that has two wheels and propels them forward. It was a stark contrast to the Saturday Rider, who are aggressive, loud and dangerous. Who show their flashy club lycra on their uber expensive bike and wheels that cost more than a pack of Sunday riders bikes combined.
Tip: anyone wanting to get into cycling, head out on a Sunday not a Saturday
Rolling out from the Brighton Sea Baths I was shocked to feel every movement through the bike immediately. The bike felt unstable and uncomfortable. I was nervous and jittery and travelling along in my small chain ring at about 20km/hr. Within about 5 minutes I no longer felt every movement and bump. I stepped up into the big chain ring. I started to pick up the speed a little. I overtook a Sunday Rider. It felt good, so I pushed on. By the end of the 20km ride my confidence was back and I was excited to be there. Albeit I was exhausted and my legs were sore, having not ridden for so long, but I was like a pig in mud.
With renewed confidence I decided I would commute to work Monday morning. Having caught the tram to and from work every day for 7 weeks I was very much exhausted of the public transport system. One way takes about 45minutes on the tram and over $3.50. Riding takes less than 20 minutes and is free. Over a week if I commute on my bike I save $35 and over four hours in time! (or $1,700 and 200 hours if I did it 5 days a week for 48 weeks!!!) I was very nervous about commuting, riding Beach Rd on a quiet Sunday morning isn’t very comparable to going through the city in peak hour.
I rugged up, clipped a tonne of flashing lights on me and wrapped around a fluro high vis yellow jacket. I rolled down Clarendon St straight into the MCG and had a dream run with the lights. I scooted around the G and saw people walking their dogs, jogging, doing boot camp and also riding. All things that inspire me. I went up and over the bridge from the G to Fed Square and joined the queue of cyclists riding safely along the bike path away from cars. I turned left at Fed Square and again rode along the dedicated bike path all along St Kilda Road. I went at my own pace and enjoyed the freedom I had missed for 9 weeks. It was a typically cold Melbourne morning, but dry at least. I love the feeling of breathing in such cold air; it feels so fresh and clean. I kept my heart rate down enough to avoid sweating (I was already dressed in my work clothes and done my hair and make-up) but enough to get the blood flowing through my body to wake me up for the day. I had forgotten just how much I loved riding.
I got into cycling because of triathlons. I wanted to try out the sport so borrowed a bike and did some training. As my triathlon obsession took over I then became a commuter. I had thought I loved riding because I love competing and training and seeing results. I have now realized I actually love riding because of the freedom it gives you. To be able to ride is a gift not a right. Not everyone can ride and the fact that I am now healthy and strong enough to ride and commute makes me feel forever grateful. It has made me want to encourage everyone who can to get out and ride and discover how enjoyable and free it is. It’s the Sunday Riders who are the ones who inspire me and who I hope to encourage more family and friends to be like. People are afraid of commuting because of cars and the dangers, but plan ahead, pick a safe route and you will discover just how great it is to start your day with a ride. I can’t wait to get back out on the road again and make cycling a daily activity once again.