Journey to the Snowy’s

James Fitzpatrick

Posted October 20, 2019

12 months ago my knees and ankles had been struggling with the rigours of running, and a close mate of mine had suggested I try road cycling. After a minor operation, I had taken a month off running and needed to get to the other side of the city to meet a mate at 6am. I didn’t feel up to running the 13km, so spur of the moment, I decided it was time to get a bike.

Where it all began

I got to Northside Cyclery at 8:50pm 10 mins before closing on a Thursday night. I wandered up to the counted and said I was interested in the road bikes. After the guy rolled his eyes clearly more interested in getting home than selling a bike he reluctantly came over to help. He asked what I was looking for…

“Not to sure a road bike, not too fussed on high end performance but want something decent”.

At this point I could see he thought I was wasting his time until I added

”Oh, and it needs to be able to be ridden home tonight”

Needless to say I walked out with bike, helmet, lights, lock & new water bottle. No lycra as I was still seeing becoming a MAMIL as clearly out of bounds.  He couldn’t upsell me on shoes so after a scratch around the back to find some pedals I started with regular plastic pedals and it turns out what is called a “gravel bikealthough I didn’t know this for some months

The next challenge 

Fast forward a few months and having started commuting the 6km to work which I thought was a long way and occasionally rounding it up to 10km with a lap of Mrs Mac’s Chair (where due to a strava glitch I hold the KOM at 13seconds) I started riding with the Rat Pack and signed up for the MS Gong Ride 82km as a challenge.

I love being up in the morning and seeing the sunrise, so I started doing 30-40km training rides in preparation for the 82km ride in early November. I managed two 100km efforts prior to the big day, so I felt confident the pins could get me to the finish line. They did, and I loved every second of it. It was also my first day out in lycra having succumbed to getting the RPCC ‘Cheesey’ kit. Now I wear it religiously and have become a full blown MAMIL – with hairy arms and legs at threat of my partner leaving when shaving was discussed. She’ll come around. Won’t she?

Pushing my limits

So what next you ask? Well, a friend of mine challenged me to ride 7 peaks in 7 days for charity. That’s 14,000 meters of climbing. I decided to push myself and go for it, raising money for Starlight and Freedom Wheels and getting fit and focused in the process. I trained hard over November and the first half of December riding 150-200km a week mostly extending my commute to get it in.

Then five weeks of holidays and Xmas overdoing the food and wine left me coming into late January starting to panic about the ride coming up in the first week if April. It was great motivation and from that point I managed to get 200-300km most weeks which was a huge time commitment especiallywhen my fourth child came five weeks early in mid-February. Thankfully Courteney, my partner, has been amazingly supportive.

So here I was at the MCG, the iconic home of footy, on a cold Melburnian morning, freezing my tackle off at at 7am with nothing to comfort me except some thermal lycra and the thought of that night’s feed. I had a whole lot of hurt ahead of me, but wouldn’t have had it any other way. This is what life is about, no?

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