As I roll into 2013 leaving 2012 in my slipstream, I felt the need to look back at my first year and a half as an early retiree.
Firstly the obvious questions, no I don’t miss work and no, I’m not bored. I love the freedom of choice that comes with the turf. As well as not being tied into the rhythms of working life, with my kids now 19 with car licenses and developing their own life’s, I am no longer tied to their routines. My daughter only got her license a few months ago. Up until then I was tied into her University schedule. Whilst it’s nice to be needed by your kids, once she was mobile, my independence blossomed along with hers.
I lost my Dad mid year at the age of 90. I miss him and I’m not going to talk about that here, it’s still raw.
Riding into retirement? Well, I track all my rides using a Garmin Edge bike computer. A GPS built for your bike. I upload all my ride data, my ride diary if you like to Garmin Connect. So I can happily report with accuracy that I have ridden 7800km this year to date. My goal was 7000km so happy with that. This took 378 hours and included 78,000 m of elevation gain. 151,252 calories burnt. Sorry for the stats, bit nerdy with this stuff but it really helps motivate me and my Garmin 800 records it all for me. During the year I added mountain biking into the mix which has brought some adventure to the mix (although by nature drops the km count). I have only been over the handle bars once and no broken bones as yet. I have trouble remembering I’m not 20 once I’m on the trails.
I have taken some time out from my riding schedule to squeeze in some travel. Since retiring have travelled within Australia to: the Southern Flinders ranges, once with the daughter and once with the wife and mountain bikes; Riverland in the Z to play golf with son after he finished Year 12; Clare Valley, with Mrs and bikes; Melbourne, once in the Z, and once by train while the other half did a Uni course.
I have also been fortunate enough to travel overseas, Late last year a South Pacific Cruise ex Sydney with wife and kids, Singapore in January with daughter and back to Singapore with the wife for a cruise to Hong Kong. No kids! A first. We are hitting Europe and the U.S. next year. All the travel has rekindled my interest in photography, great to have another interest to pursue.
I love my routine at home but am learning I need a change of scene and new experiences every few months, be it a few hundred or thousand km from home.
The day to day home routine is still sorting itself out but constants are to start the day with a coffee and chat with the wife and then a ride. I do the food shopping once a week, cook for family most days ( variable results), and do the house chores/cleaning/laundry ( obviously a lower priority than riding). I go to the gym sporadically. I should be going regularly but I prefer riding and find the gym a little dull. In need to work on this aspect.
I have spent a relatively small amount of time on home repairs/ maintenance (refer hours spent riding). I need to improve on this, so my wife firmly informs me. Very occasionally I find myself home alone. I confess that I love it when this happens. I love the family but quiet time is special time.
When I started this blog I thought I may write more frequently and that it might be part of my new routine. However, looks like the urge to write only manifests itself infrequently, so I can’t claim it to be part of my routine as yet. I do enjoy following other blogs on early retirement though. I find it helps me as I find my own ‘new’ life.
I read from other blogs about the retirement honeymoon period and the risks of becoming bored, depressed or lost. I guess it’s early days but as I pedal into 2013 I am feeling content about my early retirement lifestyle. I love the choices, love the freedom and love to ride.
When I purchased a mountain bike a couple of months back, a part of me was worried I might not ride it that much. Being addicted to road riding, could I cross over to fat tyres and get down and dirty.
I am pleased to write that I have been having a ball. Have been exploring Mtb trails on my lonesome and with my brother. Then playing guide for my wife and most recently my son. Yes, the disease is spreading, my lad purchased a bike a week ago. Very excited to be riding with the boy.
We live in the Adelaide hills and are spoilt for choice for cross country riding. For a quick outing the Belair National Park is always fun. The riding in there is mostly easy along fire trails but you are quickly surrounded by bushland, and often see kangaroos, koalas and emus. You can spot the koalas by observing the piles of poo under their favourite trees as it sticks to your tyres. From my place a loop in the park gives you around 15km of riding with some good climbing to get the heart rate up.
Nearby are the Craigburn trails. Km’s of purpose built trails all sign posted and offering a range of challenges. Of course the is Australia and its heading towards summer so one of those challenges is snakes. Oh, yes, last week a bloke my son and I were riding with had one rear up at him as he rode a downhill section and it went between his wheels! Normally the noise scares them off, but not always. Two days later on the same trail with my brother a saw the tail end of a very large brown snake heading into the grass. Geez.
Last week my son and I also tackled Eagle Mountain bike park. Set around an old quarry, plenty of single track to challenge our bike handling skills. We both had minor falls on tight switchback climbs but no injuries. Once you get into the bushland area after a bit of climbing you are rewarded with fantastic views back over the Adelaide plains and the Gulf plus lots of wild flowers blooming at this time of year.
So this post is a little disjointed but wanted to describe the joy I am finding in getting out and about on the local trails. Fun on the trails and great riding with my brother and my lad and very occasionally the Mrs.
I am a passionate cyclist. I don’t compete but I do wear lycra. I train, but only for my own satisfaction.
I took up riding about 5 years ago, by accident really. My son had joined the triathlon team at school so we were bike shopping (love bike shopping). As we did our research I found myself wanting to give it a go. So I took the plunge and bought a roadie, a mid level bike by Blue Competition Cycles, aluminium frame, 105 shimino gears. Good enough to get into it but not to scary an investment. A bit heavy up the hills, like me. My basic plan was to get fit enough to be able to ride with my brother who is also a mad keen cyclist.
So 5 years on and am riding every day that I can. For the first couple of years my wife was also riding but unfortunately, one winter she went into cycling hibernation and is still yet to emerge. Im now on bike number three, an R3 Cervelo, SRAM red, which it just a fantastic ride. Weighs about 6.7 kg. Mmmm, perhaps the subject of another post.
I find riding gives structure to my week now that I am no longer working. I ride 4-5 days a week, 2-3 hours at a time, plus a coffee stop. Weekend rides are with my brothers bunch.
Riding blows a bad or sad mood away although I do find myself getting grumpy if the weather is poor and I can’t get my km’s in. I take much inspiration from the older riders I see out on the road. Some of them over 70 and still going hard. In fact my brother has just turned 60 and is a fitter rider than myself.
I find a common question when people learn I am retired at 48 is, “don’t you get bored”. I tell them about riding, amongst other activities but usually get a quizzical expression in reply. It keeps me fit, happy and healthy. I feel fortunate that I found my passion for riding before I was given the choice not to work, it helped make the leap.