So my Brother was up from Melbourne for the weekend for a mate’s birthday party, and with that was some good news – we were going for a ride!

My bro has not been in too good a shape with a nasty hip injury that has kept him out of the saddle for quite a while now. But he is edging close to fitness, but he has a lot of work to do to get his base back. For me, it was good to see him keen for a ride.

But the best news was when he said that he was dragging out one of his mates along as a newbie rider. The newbie was looking to cycling as an opportunity to get fit in a sport that doesn’t put stress on his knees. He and I both share a common injury history in that we have both had ACL knee reconstructions.

Now newbie was lucky in that he was starting with a pretty good setup. My brother’s wife tried riding and… didn’t take to it (she now keeps fit with other things such as pilates). So her bike went to the newbie, lucky guy. I have posted before about my own adventures on this bike, when I was working down in Melbourne. Here is the steed, a pretty much brand new Giant Defy:

Riding Melbourne - #2

So for a newbie, a pretty good starting point. For sure it is not a carbon beast with a top end gruppo, but having ridden this one myself I like how solid it is. The plan was to drive out to his place and kick off from there.

The Induction Begins

I never realised how much a newbie has to pick up when starting from scratch, particular when he is going to jump on a road bike. My fellow blogger Jim over at Fit Recovery has written a lot about his own personal journey of going from a newbie to a speed demon. But I forgot my own personal experiences of learning to ride a road steed.

Our mate fortunately had acquired some padded bike pants, but not realising the effect of wind at speed he only had a short sleeve shirt general fitness shirt. The weather was grim, and we were lucky that it was holding off for our ride. I thought this might have been the case for him, so I had my first wind proof long sleeve jacket on hand (which is now too loose on me). Clothing sorted. My bro had brought up my sis-in-law’s helmet, so that was the lid sorted. I was thinking of posting a picture of him but this was his journey as a newbie, not mine.

Then we had to fit him to the bike. The last person that rode it was me, and it was one size too small. The seat post was quite high for our mate, and we spent a good 20 minutes lowering it gradually until he had good position of his legs and feet over the pedals (at the bottom of the stroke, leg slightly cocked, knee vertical to his toes). Once adjusted properly, I told him to go for a quick spin down the road.

He grab the cross bars, then the drops, but not the hoods – new to the game. But for a newbie he had two things; i) balance, particularly with his head and upper body, and ii) poise in the saddle when he pedalled – i.e. his back and butt were shaking around all over the place when he turned the pedals. Fortunately for him the bike fit perfectly.

Now when I say newbie, he is not new to sports. He has played football ever since he was a kid. So our mate had a base level of sporting prowess which would put him in good stead for the ride.

30 Clicks for a New Guy

My bro and I didn’t really have a plan, other than to see how far he would last on his first ride. Our mate lives close to one of the best cycling routes in Sydney, the M7 Motorway cycle path. Along its full journey, it is 80km of uninterrupted riding with over 650m of climbing and plenty of deviation to keep you on your toes. It is a great bit of tarmac and I wish there was more of it in Sydney.

From where we started, the first 7-8km of the route are flat. This was good for us all to get our legs. Our mate was holding his own, feeling out the gears, and like I said before he held his line because of his balance.

We both took turns to ride alongside of him and give him a few pointers, but not school him. And we told him the golden rule, we stay together on the flat and hold our own place on the climbs – always regrouping.

On the flat, the newbie was tapping out 20-25km/hr. Pretty impressive really!

I warned him of the climbs ahead, and my bro dropped back to keep pace with him. I was given the go ahead to ride hard up the main climb of the day which is a long one peaking at 6.5%. I am not fond of the climb because of its constantly changing gradient, so I knew that this was going to be a challenge for our mate. But we all rode it and checked in on how he was going when we reached the summit. He was enjoying it, but respected the journey he had just begun. We decided to push on to the 15km mark to see if we could make it a 30km round trip.

Checking in with him again, the call was now his for when to turn around. He called it, but not before both him and my bro gave me a gift.

They told me I could ride on and put down another 10+km while they turn back. I was off the leash, and  hammered! All the power training at Velofix had been paying off, and I put in my fastest times along most of the segments as I rode to put down a very quick 45km in total.

The ride out from the Southern end of the M7 is mostly climbing, but that means Chesire Cat grin inducing descending on the return leg. We all regrouped and I was greeted with a big smile on the newbie’s face. He was hiding the fact that it was challenging on the main climbs, but was hooked when he was rewarded with some awesome downhill bombing.

We returned to his place to give his wife the lowdown on the ride and have a cuppa before returning home. Good times! And for the record, I beat my bro in the sprint.

The Verdict?

I think he is hooked, and with such an awesome route on his doorstep it will be easy for him to go for a spin and build a base. While it wasn’t the fastest of runs, it was an awesome ride with a mate who discovered the joy of two wheels.

Looking forward to the next ride with him 🙂