“To ride a bicycle properly is very much like a love affair, chiefly it is a matter of faith – believe you can do it, and the thing is done; doubt it, for the life of you, you cannot” .
H.G. Wells, Wheels of Change, 1896
I was at a family function recently, celebrating the 80th birthday of my father in law Geoffrey. There were a plethora of family members present that I had not previously met. As I sat there, I could see these “older ladies” looking at me. I guess they figured out who I was, but I was not able to match names with faces.
One by one they ventured up to meet and greet me. One asked “Are you the energetic one?” I laughed, and said “Yes!”
I have had many a laugh to myself since then, but truth be known, I like it! I mean, let’s face it, there are heaps of worse things I could have been labelled!
I guess, at 55, I am energetic. I am a lot of other things too.
I am an exceedingly resilient person with a very soft heart. I have faced and survived difficult times. I don’t have the love and support of my birth family but I survive despite! Is that easy? Heck no!
I hide behind a façade – I am tall for a woman, with a strong, fast speaking voice complemented with a quick thinking mind. I also have the ability to do a lot in little time due to being well organised (mostly!) and often cannot understand why people can’t keep at my pace.
Cycling is how I cope with life. My day starts early, often around 5.20 am and ends around 10.30 pm. I have a very busy job requiring considerable juggling, conjuring and prioritising.
I ride to keep my mind free and calm as that ensures I can take on all the day will throw at me.
Since I met Tony in 2009 and he started cycling we have had numerous cycling adventures together, having now cycled in England (3 times), Wales, Scotland, France (twice), Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Italy and Singapore.
In the next 12 months we will add France (again), Spain, New Zealand and the USA.
By any measure, I train hard – having averaged 600 km per week for quite a while now. The last two months have seen me train solely on my wind trainer thanks to the cold and wet Tasmanian winter, and a bushwalking accident that resulted in tearing a tendon in my foot (making it very painful to de-cleat out of cycling shoes).
Cycling on my windtrainer is also very social and global, as I ride with others on a wonderful platform known as Zwift where you can talk to others, ride with them casually or in events. Because my windtrainer is what is referred to as “smart”, when I ride up the hills, it gets harder, and downhill, just like in real life, gets easier.
I have made virtual friends with cyclists from all over the world, with wonderful names such as Baron Evil Von Braid (Edinburgh, Scotland) Getoff Mylawn (New York) Ed ‘Cleatless’ Ray (East Sussex, England), The Badger (Sydney), MacDeer (Tumut) and so on – and me, well I am “The Mink”. Tony is “Old Man Mink” and my daughter Hannah is “Mink Junior”.
In just over five weeks time, the next touring odyssey commences. Not as long and arduous, but there are some challenges en route. We will fly to Bordeaux, France, via everywhere (Devonport, Melbourne, Singapore, Dubai, Madrid, Bordeaux).
We will have 6 days in Bordeaux to de jetlag, reassemble the bikes hoping that our babies have arrived 100% intact, and then we hope to do a number of rides in and around Bordeaux – or what I refer to as “The Prologues”.
I have already mapped out a number of day rides to take in the Arachon Basin, St Emilion and other spots along the Garonne.
We will then meet with the Bike Adventures crew to undertake our touring ride to Barcelona. Technically an easier trip than any of our previous touring trips with shorter days. Of course there is the little issue of the hilly spot between France and Spain, otherwise known as the Pyrenees.
I will blog the trip, day by day, subject to internet accessibility.
But folks, there is more. Christmas will be spent in New Zealand riding from Mt Cook to the Ocean.
This all leads up to the mother of them all, Trans USA – an 11 week journey travelling across the USA, starting in Florence (Oregon) finishing in Yorktown (Virginia). A mere 7500 km! We will be doing this under the helm and guidance of Bike Adventure’s Steve Wesson (LeJog 2013, L2V 2016) and Kim (France 2015). There will be 10 other riders in our group including Colin (LeJog 2013). This time next year we will be nearly a fortnight into the trip.
So my motivation at the moment is to build up my fitness and endurance for Trans USA – the fitter and healthier you are, the less chance there is of injury. You also enjoy it heaps more if you are not stiff and sore! As most know, I have my physical challenges with 4 x knee surgery and exercise induced asthma being higher level issues that I strive to not let get in my way.
Per H.G.Well’s quote, I have that faith! I believe in me and my ability to work through the challenges ahead. I am confident because I know I have put the work in. I cannot control car drivers, the greatest risk of all – I have to keep my fingers crossed on that one!