“Five types of people you want to surround yourself with: the inspired, the passionate, the motivated, the grateful and the open minded.” Unknown…..And the sixth, the cyclists.
I leave home thirty minutes earlier to meet the bunch. Some would call this crazy considering I could start closer to home. And yet in spite of the extra time and kilometers, joining this exceptional club has been my foundation into cycling this year.
Easing into this sport gently would be a gross understatement of how my approach has unfolded.
Some of my co-workers, endowed with psychological and behavioral degrees, have jokingly used the word obsessive. I think the better words would be dedicated or steadfast, but here’s the best one, compelled. I know my co-conspirators at the club would side with me.
Always looking to improve, wishing to climb big mountains and ride long, I have just taken on endurance training. My riding buddies do nothing to discourage this, in fact one of them throws up a photo of her finishing a 200km event, awesome. I take that as ENcouragement.
Some pretty gutsy people in this lot, especially the women. They inspire me with their ability, strength and sensational humor. They mountain bike, row, swim, run, hike, race and do many other sports.
For exactly that, these are my people. And seems as though I am on a roll with words, here goes…Posse. Crew. Pack. Gang. Community. Light Bringers (they always have their lights on). Goal getters.
Teaching me skills and etiquette in cycling, their examples have been incredible. There are a few spirited cyclists too, who always get me into trouble by sending psychic messages from the back of the bunch to ride faster when I am on the front.
I get banished to the small chain ring, at first during the ride and now before we even start.
Recently, I started to ride in a faster bunch, the grownups I call it. One morning we are barreling down the road rolling turns past some other cyclists. I hear a male voice shout from behind, “Georgina!” I cannot turn around as we are going too fast.
My Strava feed confirms who it is but you have to ride with a person for that to happen. Suspicious. He might have been quietly hanging off the back yet he never fessed up. Not really. He is a long time and trusted friend.
Same thing happens later as I take on extra kilometres solo, see compelled. I see a pedestrian with her dogs waiting to cross the road. Another good friend and cyclist. I yell out her name, I see her happy eyes and she smiles at me. I do not stop, it is winter and I am in the zone.
Cheekily, my daughter said recently I needed to cut my long hair. There is no way I would chop it, firstly as I like it, and secondly, when I ride Col de Beach Road my cyclist friends recognize me by the lengthy plait. This is the old fashioned way of tagging, I explain. Eye roll from her.
This tribe growing up about me is unexpected. Let me explain why.
In the kinder and primary school years with my four children, there was a group of us mothers who became close friends. I found much support sharing our experiences as women. We almost saw each other daily as we dropped off and picked up.
This has changed since secondary education with our kids taking separate pathways. We are still close but the time spent together has changed significantly. I have missed the day-to-day connection. Life moves on.
This riding gig has a remarkable village feel to it. I met two incredible people in my cycling class which led me to a stop in Annecy recently. We rode in the mountains before I took off solo hiking in Switzerland. I had the privilege of riding with some talented and fierce cyclists.
In Italy, I met an Aussie who is keen to show me the local rides out of town so I can load up my Strava maps for the long jaunts I want to do. And there is the sassy travel agent who is putting a trip together with me for women to cycle in Italy mid next year. Girls just want to have fun, right!
There always seems to be an invitation to ride with someone, somewhere. I just turn up.
Now I find myself being nominated for the club committee, and recruited for some race in November. They say I will enjoy it. Not sure if they mean the competition or the meetings. Coming up I have been ‘compelled’ to register for a few rides between 120km to 160kms, with the bigger goal of the 200km Alpine Classic early next year.
This is why I need the endurance coach, bunch rides, weekend jaunts, banter, the plait, endless coffee and cycling friendships. Of course, included are multiple messages between rides pretty much resembling a comedy show, keeping me laughing hard.
Back to last weekend, I joined some of the gang after my solo training ride. In the coffee shop, I am ‘compelled’ to tell them about my revelation regarding lycra and using the bathroom, how you do not have to take your top all the way off.
A small miracle really.
Of course, the troublemakers ask for a demonstration. There I am standing peeling off my jersey with a few riders looking slightly aghast. Thankfully we were outside, and it is all women.
And really, I do not care.
After I demonstrate my insight, I have one arm in and one sleeve out hanging down the side of me. I am trying to pull it up so I can get dressed but it is not coming. I tug it a few times until I work out a certain mischief maker is pulling it back down each time.
This is how we roll it seems.
In Zermatt recently, I found a cow bell in the bike store which I was ‘compelled’ to buy for the abovementioned sleeve tugger. She had been threatening the sleep-in cyclists with a cow bell ride by for months. So far this may be the only regret when speaking of compulsions, entrusting her with this. For that, I apologise to everyone in advance.
Sorry. Not sorry.
Truthfully, this tribe has surprised me but also arrived at the perfect time in my life. I feel ‘compelled’ to be a part of it, even if it is to avoid a certain cow bell.