Tuesday, 26 April 2016

One year of cycling

One year ago today, I put into action a plan to learn to ride a bike. Not having acquired the skill in childhood, I set out to teach myself from scratch, using what I had read on the internet and a hired CityCycle. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. Cycling has brought me many hours of joy and introduced me to a new passion.

Today, I’m looking back at some of the highlights (OK, and one lowlight) of the 5,250km I’ve ridden since then. 

April 26

At a nearby park, I spent an hour sitting on a CityCycle, just rolling it 50 metres down a slope, then walking it back up to the top, then rolling it back down again. On subsequent visits, I’d learn to steer and pedal.

May 16

I bought my first bike! A shiny, red Reid Vintage Ladies 7-speed Classic cruiser. Bought with the express intention of only being used to commute between home and work, that plan lasted only a few weeks before she started taking me just about everywhere. I adore this bike and her timeless, graceful look, but the cheap Reid components aren’t very durable. She’s currently dismantled, awaiting a rebuild.

October 18

The very day I bought my first bike, a friend jokingly challenged me to join them on Bicycle Queensland’s 100-km Brisbane to Gold Coast Cycle Challenge later in the year. I immediately agreed! It was a difficult ride for me, made even harder by the solid tyres I had on the bike at the time. Five hours of riding after leaving South Bank, I was rolling past the finish line at Southport in one of the proudest moments of my life: my first “century ride”!

November 12

I bought my second bike! While preparing for the ride to the Gold Coast, I did a training ride with the friend who had challenged me; me on my cruiser and they on their carbon-fibre road bike. As I laboured up a mild incline somewhere near Toowong, I looked over at my friend’s bike and noted the economy of motion and apparent ease, and realised that if I wanted to continue with longer rides, I would need a bike better suited to the job. As I researched what to buy, I unexpectedly fell in love with a gorgeous Bianchi Intenso Dama Bianca and knew that this was the road bike for me!

December 2

I hadn’t owned that gorgeous Bianchi for very long before I came off her. Landing face-first onto a concrete path, I suffered the first broken bone of my life: my jaw! (The red arrow in the photo points to a bit of bone that is supposed to be attached to the bit of bone to the left of it. I also got my first ride in an ambulance). Recuperation took months, and being restricted to soft foods was no fun at Christmas. But I was back on the bike straight away (thankfully undamaged beyond a few scratches).

February 7

My darling wife Laura bought a bike the day before, and on February 7 we took a short ride together for the first time. By the following week, we started riding to work together at least a few days a week, something we continue to this day. With two small children, all the time we can get together is a blessing.

February 13

In February, I tackled Mt Coot-tha (the highest point in my home city) in the inaugural Coot-tha Burn event. The climb is 2km, at an average gradient of 9%, but never having done it before, I set out with no sense of whether I’d be able to complete it or not. After listening to other riders’ stories of their first time up the mountain, I decided I’d be happy to complete the ride in 15 minutes. I did it in just over 11. One thing I continue to love about cycling is throwing myself at new challenges without knowing what the outcome will be.

April 17

Since the Brisbane-to-Gold-Coast, I’d completed a few more century rides, but the Ipswich 100 event gave me the chance of trying myself out on an “imperial century”: 100 miles (160km). Again, a big part of the appeal to me was the uncertainty of whether I’d be able to make it or not; this ride was 50% further than I’d ever gone before. But I completed it in 7 hours of riding.


And today was just another ordinary commute, like hundreds that I’ve done now: home to work, work to uni, uni to home. There is just no way that I could have imagined what lay ahead of me even one year ago. How much can change!


  1. Great story Rudi. Century rides, 11 minutes up Mt Coot-tha - you're a natural-born cyclist!

  2. Very inspiring story Rudiger. I'm enjoying commuting to work on my bike too... Might try out a few extra cycling goals now. Impressive upgrade to your Bianci bike!

    1. Thanks! And yes, I'm very lucky to have the Bianchi! What's your commute like?