Having the motivation to lead a healthier lifestyle and do more exercise is a great way to kick off the year, and January is the perfect time to set some goals to improve your riding and challenge yourself on the bike.
As the fireworks burst and shimmer in the sky, flushed with a drink or two and the promise of a new year of boundless promise stretching ahead, millions of people have resolved to make the coming year happier, healthier and more fulfilling. It’s the perfect calendar milestone to reflect on what went well over the previous year and where changes can be made to make things better.
Some hours later, the sun dawns on a bright new future. Steam rises from the coffee cup in front of you, and—perhaps foggy-headed from the night before, as you rub the sleep from your eyes—the realisation sinks in. It starts now. What’s done is done, and 2014 is a blank slate waiting to be filled.
For many of us, that resolution for the New Year will be bike-related. The good news is that such promises have the benefit of involving doing more of something that you already enjoy—as opposed to giving up something that you guiltily enjoy, but probably shouldn’t.
Having the motivation of a healthy, exercise-focused goal can be a great way to kick off a new year, and it’s the perfect time to set some targets to both challenge yourself and lay the groundwork for future riding. However, riders—and future riders—of all sorts can use the turning of the year as motivation. Ride On has profiled here four real riders from across the spectrum of riding—whether just getting started, gearing up for an epic road ride, wanting to go exploring with a taste for adventure, or navigating the streets to work for the first time. They’ll tell us about their bike journey to date, what they hope to achieve in 2014 and what bike riding means to them. We’ll touch base with them later in the year to find out what they’ve learnt, how it’s all gone and whether they’ve been able to stick at it, and hope that you’re able to find some inspiration to make a two-wheeled resolution of your own this year.
I’ve always loved riding, and some of my earliest and happiest childhood memories are on two wheels. During my teens, I raced on the track with admittedly modest success, but that was never really the point—I just loved being on a bike and pushing myself to go further and faster. Whilst studying, I worked at the local bike shop, and woven through my life has been a succession of love affairs with different new bikes.
It came as a bit of a surprise to discover, in my early twenties, that the reason my performance on the bike didn’t measure up to the amount of riding I was doing was because my body was fighting against me. For a couple of years, I was more or less forced off the bike—first an operation to reset a wonky ribcage, breaking all ribs in the process, then the discovery of a hole in my heart, 4cm across, which meant that I’d effectively lived my life to that point with 50% lung capacity and dismally oxygenated blood.
It took a while to come back from that, and a move overseas to study, followed by entrance into the world of gainful employment, meant that my riding time was limited. Pair that with a passion for craft beer, late nights at gigs, a busy social schedule and a less than vigilant approach to my diet, and my riding was—at best— stalled at daily commutes, a couple of early morning Beach Road hit-outs a week and a longer ride on weekends. Not a complete slouch, but not fully committed to the cycling lifestyle either.
In 2014, I plan to take it up a gear. I’ve yet to fully test the abilities of a properly-functioning body and have set myself the goal of riding the SCODY 3 Peaks Challenge, in early March. The ride is 235km of hills, including ascents of Mt Hotham and Falls Creek. I’m not much of a climber, and consider myself at the ‘determined’ rather than ‘gifted’ end of the spectrum, but with a lot of hard work planned in the lead-up, I’m hopeful (if a little apprehensive) of a positive result.
Post-event, I’d like to maintain my condition and spend more time in the saddle. There’s amazing roads close to home —the Yarra Valley, the Great Dividing Range—that I’ve not yet explored, but would love to. And on my next return to Norway to visit the ‘in-laws’, there’s no way that I’m not bringing the bike.
I’m at peace with the fact that I’ll never compete in the Tour de France, as I dreamed as an ambitious eight-year-old, racing friends around the local park. But riding makes me happy, and life’s too short not to do more of it.
I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I never learned to ride a bike as a kid.
Sport was a big part of my childhood. My dad was very athletic and keen for his children to share his love of sport. My brothers and sisters and I were always up at the crack of dawn to run or swim laps before school, but though Dad used to ride his bike to work, he didn’t think it was safe for us. None of us ever had a bike and we never learned to ride. I only remember riding once as a kid. It was at a friend’s place when I was about eleven. She had two bikes and we took them for a spin around the neighbourhood. I was a bit wobbly, but I managed to pick it up okay. I remember feeling like such a rebel, and I never told my parents.
A while back I developed an inner ear problem that affects my balance. So while I’m still very active—walking every dayand visiting the gym a few times a week—it would never have occurred to me to take up something like cycling.
However, about three years ago my eldest daughter started dating a bike nut. He converted the whole family to life on two wheels. With both our daughters riding, my husband and I thought we’d give it a go and bought a couple of bikes. However, while he was really excited—he loved riding as a kid—I was nervous.
My husband gave me a few basic lessons on the bike path behind our house, and the second time we went out I managed to ride along without him holding me steady. Then, for my birthday, he bought me a proper riding lesson with Bike SA. By the end of the two-hour session I was weaving through cones on a tennis court, but I’m still not confident about riding on a path with other riders and pedestrians, and the idea of riding on the road absolutely terrifies me.
That said, I would love to be able to go for rides with my husband and the girls. I also think bike riding is a great way to keep fit and, if it could eventually replace some of my car trips, I’d be helping the environment as well as myself.
So my riding goal for 2014 is to actually get riding! There’s a really great 30km-long, mostly off-road bike path near our beach house—the Encounter Bikeway—and it’s my goal for the New Year to ride the full length of the track.
My resolution for 2014 is to regularly ride to work. I’m an Organisational Psychologist with CUB, based at Southbank in Melbourne’s CBD. I just had my knockabout bike serviced and did a test ride on the weekend to figure out the best route to ride—so I’ve started the process and I’m now aiming to turn it into a habit.
My resolution is to ride to work at least three days a week and for that to become so ingrained over summer that I keep on doing it through winter!
One of the good things I’ve done is joining a gym that is on my ride to work. It’s in a busy part of town, so it gives me that extra incentive to take the bike. I’ve also invested in some high-vis gear and new lights, as well as taking the bike in for a check-up.
One of the main things I want out of riding to work is fitness. I deliberately have a cheap, heavy bike so that the ride is a better work out. Otherwise, the ‘do my bit for the environment’ idea is quite compelling to me. I don’t know if I buy into the MAMIL identity just yet, but that may come over time.
The biggest challenge to overcome is Melbourne’s variable climate—I’m not from Melbourne originally and I’m used to riding in better weather. I travel quite a bit for work, so the irregular schedule is likely to be a challenge as well.
The facilities at work are great: we use the Arts Centre car park bike cage, which is well set up. Our building is going through a refit at the moment, so hopefully the facilities will be even better soon. Traffic is not really an issue—it’s quicker to ride in to work than drive after about 7am, and the bike lanes are well set up. It helps to have so many people riding in to work at the same time—that certainly makes the ride feel safer.
This resolution is a promise to myself. I’m not one to seek a lot of support for this sort of thing but my wife is certainly supportive.
I first started riding as a little kid. My dad taught me how to ride, and I still remember my first bike, which had training wheels and a really long saddle with enough room for two kids to sit. I got my second bike in grade four, but I was slow and not good at keeping my balance, and lost some confidence. Later I had a chance to ride on my brother’s bike, and fell off the bike on to the road. Luckily, cars were stopped at the traffic light behind me, but I lost a bit more confidence. After this second incident, I stopped riding for almost 15 years.
In 2008 I moved from South Korea to Australia to study, and have just recently started riding again. In Korea, bike riders prefer to stick to recreational paths along streams and rivers, and people don’t mind if they encounter bike riders on the footpath. That’s a bit different to here—I quickly learnt I needed to ride on the road in Melbourne after encountering some aggressive pedestrians. I’m now riding all the way to work every day, weather allowing, and although I used to stick to paths and trails to avoid traffic, I’m proud to say that I’m confident enough to ride on the road next to the cars.
I built up my first (adult!) bike at CERES a few months ago. One of the awesome volunteers, Kim, helped me to get my bike rolling. Basically, I had a frame, wheels with tyres, the cranks, and a pair of pedals. It was great fun to learn all those mechanical skills—and not just basic bike maintenance, but also some serious stuff like attaching brake and gear cables, handlebars, and adjusting derailleurs.
I recently had an accident where I got caught in tram-tracks, and since then my bike has been feeling a bit wobbly. I wanted a reliable for longer rides, so before doing the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride in November, I bought a beautiful new flat bar road bike. I went to ten different bike shops, and might have been a little bit fussy, but I didn’t want to waste my money on something I’d regret. I know if I 100% love my bike, I’ll be riding all the time!
With a new bike, some newly found confidence and a love of bike riding, my new year’s resolution is to ride all the rail trails in Victoria. I’ve got itchy feet, and there are all of these great rail trails through amazing scenery that I can’t wait to go and explore!
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