My name is Kylie Smith, and I am a cyclist.
I suppose I started out the same way as most kids. I learned to ride at a pretty young age and enjoyed occasional rides with my parents along linear park or over to grandma's house. In my final year of primary school there was a small group of us that would ride together. But once high school started, it was too far to ride and the friendships that sustained my earlier riding days fell away, so the bike was relegated to the back of the shed.
Once I moved out of home, my boyfriend and I lived within riding distance of the city. Our bikes were rescued from the back of our respective sheds and started getting a workout. He soon upgraded to a shiny new road bike, but I didn't see the point. My old mountain bike from when I was 12 worked perfectly fine. I started commuting to the city for uni (about 5km) and to the airport for work (about 15km). But I was a person who rode a bike to work, I wasn't a cyclist.
After an unfortunate incident on the bike one day on the way home from work, I stopped riding. I'm sure the guys in that car thought a nice tap to the young girl's bottom was all a bit of fun, but it wasn't for me. Back to the bus. Around that time, I did join the forces of the bleary eyed each July as a fan of cycling the sport. But it was an interest, not an obsession.
From then, different circumstances meant it was about 5 years before I got back on a bike. We had moved about 20km from the city and it just sounded too far for a daily commute. In planning our wedding and honeymoon, we came across a cycling tour across Tasmania and decided to go for it. So in October last year we joined Tasmanian Expeditions on their tour from Launceston to Hobart. In the week long tour, there were 3 days of cycling - 60km, 80km and 70km. A big effort for not having ridden in so long, but it felt surprisingly good. We were inspired.
On our return, my new husband took the plunge and began commuting. He reported that it wasn't as bad as it first sounded, although I wasn't convinced. But, I started to get curious. By the time the TDU came around, he had decided to sign up for the BUPA tour, and I found myself wishing I was out there too. And that is where the slippery slope began.
21 January, second last day of the TDU. An ad comes on the television for Avanti Plus advertising a sale. Bugger it! I'm getting a bike!! We rush off to the local store but it's just on closing time. The guy insists on helping me anyway and we stay there a good half-hour after closing time. I'm pretty sure I want to buy, but decide to sleep on it. So on 22 January, I became the owner of a shiny new Scott S30.
It took a few weeks after that to take the step of riding to work. I was a bit nervous, riding in traffic and learning how to clip in and out of the cleats. Hubby lead the way and I rode two days that week. The next week, he had to head off to Darwin for work and it was just me and the bike. I kept up with riding a couple of days a week and my confidence was increasing. I was now a commuter.
Sunday 18 March, my first community ride. In the wake of the BUPA ride, my husband had signed up for the Boileau VeloAdelaide ride but since he was in Darwin he obviously couldn't make it. Rather than let the entry fee go to waste, I took the plunge and did it for him! I only signed up for the 50km, unsure of my abilities, but finished it feeling fresh. Not only that, I'd seemed to make it with a reasonably good time and average speeds. I was getting the bug.
I think it was the next day that I joined Adelaide Cyclists, although I had been lurking for a little while before that. I signed up to the Gully Grinders group and the next week made my small group riding debut. Getting up at 7am on a Sunday to go on a group ride? It's starting to happen.
From there, Easter was the next milestone. I decided on Good Friday that I would ride out to Gawler via One Tree Hill to visit the in-laws, because it sounded like a nice ride. Easter Sunday, I joined the Gully Grinders down to the Adelaide Cyclists birthday ride and had my first coffee at Henley Beach by bike. Walking into a cafe in lycra and cleats? Achievement unlocked!
How much further can it go? I commandeered the TV at a friend's place and made them watch the Paris-Roubaix while we were having drinks. And just last week I upgraded to a smartphone, purely so I could try out the Strava app. I'm now the proud owner of 3 QOMs and a few second and third placings. I think that makes it official.
My name is Kylie Smith, and I am a cyclist.
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