Riding a bike has been in my blood ever since I could stand up – more than 40 years in fact! Recently, after a few years of sporadic cycling (my focus was firmly on the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge), I have had a renewed enthusiasm for riding.
In this article, I share some of my earliest memories of riding growing up, including some great adventures and extended trips on 2 wheels across the UK, and over the last 12 years in Brisbane and the Samford Valley. I hope you enjoy reading this blog, and that it inspires you to ride a bit more, enter some local events or races, or even give cycling a go for the first time.
In Freedom on 2 wheels (Part 1), I talk about my love of cycling and give 8 reasons why I recommend everyone should jump on a bike. I also share the experiences of 2 clients – Jane and Richard – who have a passion for cycling. Once they started riding (both as adults for the first time), they enjoyed the experience so much, it’s become a regular part of their life which is so great to hear.
- Aged 5 – learning to ride on my first proper bike (without training wheels) and falling into the hedge along the driveway. I clearly remember my 2 brothers witnessing the whole thing, and me not wanting to ever ride again.
- Aged 8 – doing ‘skids’ outside the back gate aged 8 and then wincing in pain as Mum picked out bits of grit and dirt from my knees after falling off. I quickly learnt how much braking was required to stay on!
- Aged 11 – riding non-stop all the way up the hill outside my parents town (my local ‘Mt Glorious’) and feeling so proud.
- Riding to my first proper job as a waiter aged just 16 – five miles along a tree covered backroad. It was very dark sometime around 11pm on the way home and I remember following the white line in the middle of road with my tiny front light shining the way (and being too scared to look around!)
- One week cycling and camping trip to Brittany (Northern France) with Ross Preston – two 18 year old’s with endless energy and appetites – we ate our bodyweight in baguettes each day and also ‘BN’ biscuits (double biscuit chocolate sandwich!); it was even more memorable as Ross’s bike frame cracked just below the handlebars on Day 2 whilst riding up a big hill. We had so much kit in our back-wheel panniers – probably all just too heavy. Ross’s parents came to the rescue though, wiring money into a bank account, and we found a friendly local bike shop and bought a new bike!
- 4 day bike tour of the Cotswolds (South England) aged 19, with mates, Ross, Matt and Paul – we stayed in Youth Hostels, did some cycling, ate lots of fast food and enjoyed a few pints in some stunning pub gardens. Great times.
Two 18 year olds with endless energy and appetites – we ate our bodyweight in baguettes each dayNick – 1991 – cycling holiday in Northern France with friend Ross
- John O’Groats to Land’s End – August 1995 – 1308 miles/ 2105 kms – solo epic! 19 days, 1 puncture, 2 broken spokes. Decided to tackle this classic ride on my own at the end of 4 years at Uni. Needed a challenge to ‘find myself’ (my last summer of freedom!). Stayed at Youth Hostels along the way. Day off in Edinburgh for the Festival. Definitely learnt some good life skills on this trip, especially self reliance and map reading.
- Cycling trip through Scotland with James (brother) – Sept 1996/ 450 miles. Glasgow – Lochness – Fort William. Stunning scenery at every turn.
- Watching my bike being stolen through the glass of a takeaway shop in South London in 1999, and seeing the red light flashing smaller and smaller as it disappeared down the street (after a solo visit to see the ‘Blair Witch Project’ – strange I know)… not the best day but I did learn a valuable lesson to always carry and USE a very big padlock and chain when leaving my bike anywhere in public again!
- Falling off at a busy intersection in South London, whilst learning to transition from foot cages on the pedals to cleats … only bruised my pride thankfully.
- Being knocked off my bike by someone opening a car door in South London – no real injuries, just shock (but lucky I was not hit by another vehicle as I lay in the road). The owner of the car door – attached to a flash cabriolet – was an estate agent who put me and the bike in the back seat and drove me home. I arrived back looking very white; Heather made me a strong cup of tea and I watched England in the the 2006 European Soccer Championships on TV … I think they lost!
- London to Brighton (approx. 50 miles) 2006 with Jon Monk – unofficial ride (this is a very popular annual ride for charity); after a dry start, the rain then poured down for the rest of the way. We arrived in Brighton, freezing cold and half delirious, staggered round the supermarket stocking up on comfort food and gradually thawed out on the 90-minute train ride home.
- Les Mills RPM/ Spin Instructor 10 years 2003 to 2013 (London and Brisbane. I LOVED teaching indoor cycling and still miss it today. Such great exercise and the music was energising and addictive. I still ‘stand up for the hills and sit down for the racing’ to certain tracks when I hear them on the radio today! Let’s Go Crazy by Prince RPM 17 Track 5 was my first ever track that I taught (in case you were wondering!).
I LOVED teaching indoor cycling and still miss it today. Such great exercise and the music was energising and addictiveNick – RPM and Spin Instructor for 10 years
- Riding with Garry through Brisbane city on New Year’s Eve 2008. Midday: seriously hot 35 degrees – air thick with heat. 80-minute ride via Southbank. Lots of jumping off pavements and quick turns. Good fun!
- March 2012 – Mt Coot-tha Challenge – 85km 3:09.19 (+ 16km riding from home to the start). Massive morning under grey skies with no rain. Really enjoyed ride with Gaz. New route to and from the ‘hill’. 2.3km timed section 10:45 (poor time but not bad with no training!). Overall legs did well. Last 20km was hard.
- May 2013 – Mt Glorious loop with Gaz and Jez. 69.3km/ 3:07.12/ avge 22.1km/ 1991 metres ascent/ 2600 cals. Massive ride. Felt so strong all the way!
- Watching the pro cyclists live in the Velodrome for Commonwealth Games 2018 at the Gold Coast – incredible skill and speed round a steep tight indoor course.
- 2015 to 2020 – Oxfam Trailwalker 100km Challenge my main focus, with sporadic local rides exploring the Samford Valley.
- March 2020 – it’s great to be back on the bike.
- May/ June 2020 – Camp Mountain ‘every single street’ with Brent …watch this space!
Midday: seriously hot – air thick with heat. 80 minute ride via Southbank Lots of jumping off pavements. Good fun!Nick and Gaz riding through Brisbane city on NYE 2008
UK 1988 – 2007
- Triathlons – London, Crystal Palace, Windsor, Swanage, East Grinstead
- North Face adventure race series 2000 and 2001 with Jon Monk – multi-stage race in the Lake District, England. Mountain biking stage (also fell running, kayaking and night navigation) – normally wet and cold but a great experience!
- Tour De France 2007 – public prologue 200km cycle from London to Canterbury – great to be part of Le Tour and my longest one-day ride!
Australia 2007 – 2015
- Noosa Triathlon 6 times 2008 to 2013 – Olympic distance 40km bike leg
- Mooloolaba Tri – Team event 3 times (with Northside Fitness) – 40km bike leg once
- Kingscliff Triathlon 2015 – 40km bike 1:16.45 (4 x 10km laps great to get crowd support)
- Mt-Cootha Challenge 4 times – 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016
- Sunshine Coast 70.3 2013 – Half Ironman 90km bike leg/ 2:45.27
- Brisbane to Gold Coast 100km 4 times – 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014
- Noosa Enduro 100km MTB 2009 – tough endurance off-road ride with Gaz that pushed me right to the limit – lots of technical and bumpy bits. I have preferred the road ever since!
- Noosa Century 100mile – 5:20.03 – with Jezza – fabulous scenery up into the Noosa hinterland
- Bravehearts Team Time-trial 2014 with Jeremy White – 43.2km/ 1:20.22 – Samford to Dayboro and back. A fun and rewarding experience, especially with the time-trial style ramp that we started on.
- ‘Hope Across Australia’* 2014 penultimate stage 161km/ 5:40.12 Toowoomba to Ikea Logan – loved this ride and awesome to join Stephen Schoemaker and the HAA boys; sunny for 115km to Ipswich, then very wet last 30/40km to Logan. Ride down range from Toowoomba seriously good fun! *Epic 5000km charity ride.
Cycle Specific Workout
Are you a cyclist? You may have just started, or have been riding for years.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned pro, a regular program of strength training, incorporated with stretching and breathing, will be hugely beneficial to your fitness level on the bike, and aid your post ride recovery and general overall health.
In Part 3 of my ‘Freedom on 2 wheels’ series, I have created a program of 12 cycle specific strength exercises and 4 breathing and stretches exercises.