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Fat tyres and snakes

Waterfall trail in Belair National Park

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.

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Diversification : enjoy the ride

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After about 5 years of rolling out the km on the road bike, I recently cheated on my road bike and bought a Mountain Bike. Yes, I have crossed to the dark side.
How did this happen, why did I stray from the the straight and narrow road? Temptation. My brother, also retired although a little older suggested we go mountain biking once a week. Hit the trails, get muddy, back to nature. Get down and dirty. His wife, quite reasonably, had commanded he was not to go bush without a partner in case of a fall. So he dropped the word on me.
Initially I was hesitant. Love my road bike you see. Could I love another?
I pondered this opportunity for a few days, keen to have a day with my brother each week and also recalling the fun I used to have on my old Mongoose hardtail (20 year old mountain bike with no suspension).

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So, I thought, perhaps I will just pop into a bike shop and have a look, no harm in that . Look but don’t ride. It will be ok.
Alas, I was wrong. I fell in love with her at first sight. A Trek Ex Fuel 9.9. A top end dual suspension mountain bike ON SALE nearly half price. It was meant to be.
Things had changed in the mountain bike world since my last purchase in the early 90’s.
Front suspension and even rear suspension. This sounds like fun. A carbon frame, wow.
Weights 11kg built. Oh yeah.

So now I have added some diversity to my weekly exercise / riding regime. Exploring the Adelaide Hills on the Trek and, as a bonus, some nice rides with my brother (who just upgraded his bike to a 9kg Merida 09 team hard tail.)
My lovely wife who used to ride a roadie with me has also bought a mountain bike and is enjoying it and not missing the traffic that goes with road riding. Hoping she will become a regular on my rides.

Enjoying the riding, trying not to be too silly, although I did descend a set of wooden steps yesterday, dumb but fun. I’m sure this is what my Financial planner meant by diversification.

Have to say I am enjoying the early retirement lifestyle.

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Riding into Retirement

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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.

The dining room

So I visited my Dad yesterday, he’s in a aged care home about 15km across town. It’s a nice place, high quality care, good staff etc. I usually visit once a week, sometime I drive other times I ride my bike. When I ride I do tend to feel a bit out of place wandering the corridors in my lycra.

Dad is getting on a bit, he recently turned 90. Up until a year ago he was living on his own at his home, but one fall to many and some other significant health issues lead him into aged care.

I love visiting Dad but it’s hard. He just seems so frail now, even compared to a year ago. I joined him for dinner in the dining room. Probably about 5 tables of residents, 20 or so in all. It’s a strange experience, most just sit in silence, eating and knocking back a plethora of medications.

Dads move to aged care coincided with the period I found myself with a choice of continuing to work, or not. Experiences like the dining room help me make my decision to spend my time as I choose and add to my determination to stay fit and active. Before visiting Dad yesterday I played golf with my son, and before that, drove my daughter to Uni (college). Retirement allows me to spend and value time with family.

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