How Cycling Saved My Life

A Rough Start

During my teens I lead a life of undisciplined pleasure seeking activities. Smoking, eating junk food, stressing out over life, working and partying and drinking alcohol was all too common. Being of Australian Aboriginal descent I faced a shortened life expectancy by almost 25 years to others and this fact seemed to spur me on to change. In fact, if I did not change the way I was living I was going too be dead soon. I had not swum, rode a bike or run at a competitive level at all during my life but, for some reason the thought of doing a triathlon was appealing to me. Guys like Dave Scott and Mark Allen were inspirational. 

 

"In fact, if I did not change the way I was living i was going to be dead soon."

 

I remember my first bike was a Repco Superlight 10 speed. I crashed it on my first ride taking a corner too quick and I thought a 5 kilometre ride was long. My first run was around a kids school oval and I struggled to make 10 laps. In the pool, well I did not make a lap, by 25 metres I was doing doggy paddle. Obviously, I had a long way to go if I was going to do a triathlon.

I bought some books and read about swimming technique, preparing for triathlons and learnt about eating healthy foods. I joined a touring club to learn about cycling and meet some other riders. My swimming improved with the great tips I read about in Dave Scott's triathlon book. 

The Early 1990's

In the early 1990's I started road racing with the Norwood Cycling Club, Adelaide, Australia. I was 25 years old and joined to improve my cycle leg in triathlons. Triathletes were notorious for pushing big gears and not using a high cadence. They also crashed on tricky circuits. I was not going to let this happen to me. I spent many hours riding with friends and the club members and loved road racing. I had a lot of help for some great people including Gordon (Pud) Brookes and Stan Malbult. They kept me on the road many times when money was tight. Pud was the perfect gentleman who I owe so much too.

I kept records of my training and diet. Eating chicken breast and broccoli and pasta was a favourite as was pasta and omelette for breakfast. I got some good results in triathlons and also did well enough at road racing to make it to club level A grade and Open level B grade. In the handicap events I was often on the chopping block - one group ahead of scratch. For those  who do not know scratch is the last group of riders.

 

"The things I learnt from triathlons including setting goals and objectives that are realistic, challenging and yet, achievable worked in other areas of my life."

 

Some four years later and I was a changed person. Fitter and healthier I was on a better path. I did not have to be another statistic that died early. I got into fitness and trainer as a personal trainer for a bit before going to university and studying recreation management. Cycling had saved my life and set me up for a great future.

The things I learnt from triathlons including setting goals and objectives that are realistic, challenging and yet, achievable worked in other areas of my life. Success could come if you applied yourself to a plan of well thought out goals, objectives and tasks. 

 

Ten Years Later

A decade later I found myself sitting behind a desk in front of a computer, drinking coffee and eating donuts. No quite. Although, I am sure there was always plenty of cake in celebration of someone leaving or having a baby or birthday. Despite riding to work and home I put on weight and found it hard to keep racing. Before I knew it I had quit racing, loosing the desire to get up those early mornings and train and race.

My life went of the rails, I detested my job, had a crazy girl friend and got myself into all sorts of trouble. I was drinking alcohol again and smoking and was stressed to the maximum. I had been suffering from PTSD from a number of personal attacks and tragic events including a stabbing that occurred in 2000. 

 

"I had been suffering from PTSD from a number of personal attacks and tragic events including a stabbing that occurred in 2000."

 

Today 2017

In April 2016 I decided to work on a handlebar invention and it was necessary for me to get back on the bike to test this design out. I bought a cheap bike that was too big for me and put my bars on when I got these from the 3D printer. You could not ride far or brake hard but I could see and feel how the design looked and felt. My first rides on a second-hand bike were short, lucky if they were 15 kilometers. But, I was persistent and tried to do this every day.

 

Eyropro Prototypes

In January 2017 I received the first prototypes of my handlebar design. The Eyropro handlebar had become a reality after 20 years of dreaming. I kicked off a good couple of weeks of training with the Tour Down Under on my doorstep. Then I fell flat after this. Of course, there was a good reason for this. I did not have the lung capacity, the same lactic acid thresholds or high VO2 maximum. My muscle mass was nowhere near the same and it was clear getting back to the levels I once was at would take some time.

It is now about 9 months since I started back on the bike after about a 10 year break. I have a older TREK US Postal road bike which I love. Higher gearing than we used to ride in my day but, now days I need it to get over the once easily ridden hills.

 I have bought a BRYTON 310 which I love. It has all the features I need. Loads of pages and feedback. The web site for Bryton is basic but you can interface with Strava. I must say I do appreciate the feedback including heart rate, kilometres travelled and time. Small unit and it fit on my head stem. You can check out my improvement on there.

https://www.strava.com/dashboard#_=_

 

I am again eating healthier, not drinking or smoking. I have lost weight and have more energy. My depression and anxiety is not so bad and I am again loving cycling. I have learnt not to go out so hard all the time. Thanks to my BRYTON I could see I was averaging 170 bpm heart rate and wondered why I was feeling stuffed. This is like training at 100 per cent maximum for 2 hours or more and probably is not good at my age of 52 years. 

I have started racing again after 10 months of training. I got dropped in my first race back and got a third place in my second race. Results have been up and down but I am getting stronger with some group hit outs and by hanging in there for as long as I can.

 

Doing the Right Training

To make sure I am on the right track with my training I am going to engage a professional cycling coach. It does not matter whether you are a novice or professional if you want to make the best use of your time then a coach like Tim Ramesden from BlackCat Cycle Coaching is a great option. I'll let you know how I go with Tim over the next 12 months and during my summer racing. Remember, I am back racing after 10 years away and I am not getting any younger but I still expect to do well.

 

http://blackcatcyclecoaching.com/about/  You can check out Tim's credentials and testimonies here.

Whilst, this story is about the value of cycling to one's physical and mental health and general spirit is is also about how my handlebar design has got me back on the bike. I love the design and to date many riders have come to love the bars features too. If you are looking for a truly comfortable handlebar check out the Eyropro handlebar at eyropro.com

 

 For me the future is about having fun, keeping fit and enjoying the great rides that are close to home. It is not really about my handlebar design. What is more important is I am alive and feel better about life. What price can you put on this?

 


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