Santa brought me my first two-wheel bike at 5yrs old, a Sports World BMX, black frame and gold anodized almost everything else. Mum read in the local newspaper “come and try” at Spring Valley BMX track, thinking, “This might be where they could teach him to ride”. Little did mum know, this would be the beginning of a life traveling the world banging bars, chasing wheels, and living adventures that are now imprints of my cycling DNA.
I grew up in Keysborough, Victoria and rode my BMX everywhere, like every kid did in those days. I’ve raced bicycles from BMX in ’82 (5yrs) and still with BMX in the blood I transitioned to the track and road in ’88 (10yrs), but wasn’t allowed to ride on the road alone. Mum would drive me to VFL Park Tuesday and Thursday after school. My goal was to average the ride at 30kph, riding lap after lap with Veteran’s riders telling me “don’t point your toes, elbows in, look where your going not where you’ve been”.
As I grew older I spent my weekend time riding with my Dad, always tucked in tight behind him, on the wheel. Every boy measures themself against their Dad even if they don’t understand at the time, but my Dad was a man mountain. Once I’d developed in my cycling I found I could match him on the slight inclines, so I’d roll around him and push the pace thinking I had him covered. We’d roll down along the beach and through the rollers of Mt Eliza, amping it up once we got to Olivers Hill and it was not long until I’d have his measure.
After high school I’d head up and over Mount Dandenong Tourist road, down the 1in20, across Forrest road back to the base of the tourist road and reverse the loop and head home all before dark.
Now days, I ride Saturdays afternoons with my 10yr old son around our local Patterson River, “River Loops” as we call them. The gravel path ways of the river provide a safe environment for us to ride together, roll along side by side chatting about nothing in general, just riding along. I can see him measuring himself against “Dad” always waiting until I’m telling a story or pointing out a boat on the water to head off up the path. I speed up to catch him, have a laugh and think, maybe I’m passing on some of my bike DNA?
Melbourne, my home, has its own cycling DNA much like any city does; Melbourne has something else, something special. No other cycling city has a road that magnate’s a rider to it like Beach Road, I’ve grown up riding Beach Road as a thoroughfare to travel all over the city. Yes, Beach Road has a rather flat palmare, but stretches over 140kms where you can take in the coastal roads that oozes Australia’s sun kissed lifestyle. Riding between Melbourne’s CBD, the Dandenong’s, Arthur’s Seat, we’ve all encountered Beach Road, feeling a sense of welcome and for me, a sense of being home.
Today I still ride through the backs street of Mt Elsa thinking I’m in the classic euro climbs of Belgium. More and more laps of the same circuits trying to go faster, repeats of the Oliver’s Hill like I did behind The motorbike, back in the day. I still ride with this mindset, harder, faster stronger yet the outcome is irrelevant. These days I do not have any program, any destination just to ride the road hard enough to be satisfied. I like to feel like I’m riding well, high in the saddle, I like to feel at home with my bike, like to feel comfortable JRA (just riding along) I like to just feel I am at home riding my bicycle.
I’ve now learnt that just riding is all I need and riding with my son and my family is special, I’m sharing part of myself, exploring Melbourne and all that it has to offer us.