20,000

A hobby became a passion because of one slightly impulsive purchase in 2015. I’ve now reached 20,000 kilometres on that impulse, keeping me strong despite my…… issues. Worth a bit of reflection.

Impulse

My first road bike, a Bianchi, was getting tired, old tech. It had got me interested, though, so job done. It was also not really suitable for my increasingly odd requirements. Stability was becoming important. The Bianchi was a quick bike but felt nervous in my in my increasingly shaky hands. So I decided to try a new bike shop. The owner of my first bike shop was, after all and technically speaking, a w*nker. He did not have the ability to think with someone with different needs to most customers. So customer lost.

No such issues at the ‘new’ shop where requirements were met with constructive questions and good suggestions. Not ‘should you be riding a bike?’ Customer gained. I had seen some, to my eyes, rather handsome Cannondales in the window. Not in my budget. Looked good though.

Very stable as well, apparently, Very stable.

A ‘f*ck it’ moment happened. I had one of those. Moments where, having considered many options with a great deal of discipline, I just think ‘f`*ck it’ and do something. Usually on key decisions. Moving countries. Changing jobs or career. Buying a house…..

Buying a bike. Perhaps the most important of all?

Stuff the budget, I thought, and bought a Cannondale Synapse. The same model as one of the handsome bikes in the window. With a carbon frame, which I had originally eliminated due to cost.

It even looked like the bikes the pros used! To me at least.

It’s the last bike you will buy…… that was the justification. The next thing with wheels will be a wheelchair, right?

From Hobby to Passion

Since that day I have bought two more bikes. And no wheelchair. Not yet at least. And last week I reached the 20,000 kilometre milestone on `Cannonball’, named after a song by The Breeders and a really clever play on Cannondale. Right?

In those 20,000 kilometres there have been some special moments. Two climbs of Mont Ventoux, the first being for charity. My first mountain, why not take the toughest? Also Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2017. My first Classic and, again, why not take one of the toughest? In rain as well. Still think of that as the hardest ride I have so far undertaken.

On top of Mont Ventoux - the first climb
On top of Mont Ventoux after the first climb

Without Cannonball I would not have even dared. Its stability, even in heavy wind, gave me the confidence to take on tough challenges despite my limitations. The hobby moved from something to keep me in condition to a real passion. Something that has kept me in good shape and good mind which, with MS, is so important. A 1oo kilometre ride was once a major exploit and now it’s almost a weekly occurrence. Not very fast but weekly. Riding among large groups became something that was not to be feared. Mountains became possible and, indeed, I enjoy them. A true sadist.

On top of Mont Ventoux - the first climb
During Liege-Bastogne-Liege 2017 – Cote de la Redoute….. Yes…. It hurt…..

As for the ride that marked the 20,000 kilometre landmark? Slow and uneventful. As though to prevent too much sentimentality the chain came off for now apparent reason. A small mechanical tantrum, forgivable after so many rides, so many adventures.

Winter Bike

Cannonball is now the ‘winter’ road bike with the newer ‘Silver Machine’ taking the summer jobs and, of course , the more extreme rides. The new challenges. A newer Synapse, even more stable thanks to broader tires. Add to that electric gear shift and disk brakes and my cycling world is staying comparatively big, making up for the MS induced weaknesses in my right hand that can impact changing gear and breaking. Pretty important things in cycling.

Still, Cannonball is good for Holland, fine on long flats in the wind. Perhaps a little tired now, a battering in all weathers. A lot of doors kept open because. 4 years ago, I liked the look of a bike and had that ‘f*ck it” moment. The last few years has not always been easy but I have been helped by a trail of lucky moments, happy coincidences. Cannonball will always be one of them.

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