Banging the same old drum, but think i should repeat it again

johnnyb47

Veteran
Location
Wales
Hi,
As the title states, I've said this in past posts but feel it should be said again.
5 years ago i taken up cycling again after a difficult separation from my beloved wife. I was fat and depressed and had no motivation to do anything, than to just work and drink my sorrows away.
Luckily something inside told me that I had to get out of this rut and try and find myself again. My Ex brother in law was a Saint and worked tirelessly encouraging me to find new interests, and somehow dug deep enough to learn i was once a keen cyclist many moons ago. After many boozy nights, his influence rubbed off on me and I ended up buying an old 80s road bike.
It was heavy and old fashioned, but it was cheap and immaculate. Most importantly it was the bike I had owned when I was a youngster and it held great memories of my mum who scrimped and saved to buy it me. When I was young this bike opened up my whole world to cycling. I would cycle 12 miles to school come rain or shine each and every day throughout the years. It would take me to see my dad who lived rough in the next town every weekend. I was a bit of a loner in School and hated every minute of it, but this old Peugeot equipe gave me the freedom to escape, by cycling to many places I shouldn't of really gone to at my age. At lunch time I would always cycle home for my dinner. It was 3 miles each way and was the highlight of the day. Being stuck in a stuffy class room was my idea of hell and I just couldn't wait to escape. (plus it saved my mum a fortune on bus fares and school meals)
Sometimes on the way back to School i just couldn't face going back after lunch, and when the sun was out i didn't. I would end up cycling past the school and head of into the wilderness to enjoy the peace and quiet (tut tut)
With all the miles i was doing, my developing body quickly became very muscular and could get quite a speed up on my pig ironed gassed pipped bike. So much so, a local triathlete who i befriended noticed, and persuaded me to enter the local cycling cycling club and do the weekly 10TT.
I was 15 years old with no confidence, and on a bike that weighed a ton with no proper cycling clothing.
I remember turning up for the first TT dressed in my school PE clothes with a pair of shorts that were as baggy as hell.
All the guys there, were serious about their sport and looked me up and down with a concealed grin. They bikes laden with Reynolds 531 tubing and adorned with Campagnolo group sets and smelling of deep heat. There was me in a PE kit with simplex gears and a frame made from Carbolite 103 steel. It was a dead cert they was going to make mince meat out of me..
My triathlete friend who never really liked the clicky cycling club scene just kept giving me words of encouragement and advice and off I went on my maiden TT ride.
I done a reccy of the route the week before and knew what to expect of it. We set off in 1 minute intervals and for the 5 miles i paced myself and when the second 5 miles came I gave it everything i could. Crossing the line I had no more to give and gracefully collapsed feeling totally knackered. I was just pleased that no one passed me.
When the results came in, it turned out i came 3rd!! out of 20 odd riders.
Wow did that lift my confidence up.
I actually found that there was something in this world i was good at.
I'll never forget the day I managed to get some respect from random people that I've never met before.
My triathlete friend (who i also beat) was ecstatic and will never forget in that on the way home he took me for my first ever pint to celebrate (you could get away with that sort of thing back then)
I cycled for a few years with the club and as things progressed a gave my ageing Peugeot Equipe to a good friend who was down on his luck and continued to complete on my new Barry Hoban steed. It was light and sharp compared to the Peugeot but for some reason it didn't feel quite right.
My original Peugeot now lives in the Netherlands and is still in regular use with my old friend.
When i reached my early 20s cycling took an early retirement for me.
Chasing the dollar and discovering lady's, cars and partying soon relegated my cycling days to history which I strongly regret. That was up until 5 years ago though, when things started to go wrong.
Yes i was back to square one again.
Self loathing and no confidence and feeling utterly depressed about life after being cheated on by someone i loved dearly.
As said before my life once again crossed paths with another Peugeot Equipe and the roller coaster of life started again. Granted the belly was bigger and the hair was thinner, but my nostalgia was as strong as ever.
Riding this old bike again really reset my head and wellbeing, and no matter how old you are, it made me remember my long lost roots again and my belated mum who bought me this bike.
Over the 5 years of riding this bike it's turned me over from being a fat middle aged old bloke feeling sorry for myself to being a lean young minded person again. I've cycled across Wales covering 100 miles a day and have raised ££s for charitys along the way.
I've made many a new friends and have kept the beer drinking down to a minimum.
This last year has been dreadful for us all with this Pandemic, and I think if it wasn't for the fact we have been allowed to continue to cycle through it, i think i would of gone around the twist.
5000 miles were covered last year and i enjoyed every one of them.
The mental wellbeing and physical benefits of cycling are second to none in my point of view and it can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be.
So if you're ever considering getting into cycling i hope my story helps you to get out there and enjoy the freedom,

All the best,
Johnny
 

HMS_Dave

Pillock
Location
Midlands
Nice one Johnny!
 

mudsticks

Obviously an Aubergine
It's a great story, parts of which you've told before, but that doesn't matter.

Stories that give us hope, of triumph over despair are the stuff of inspiration for many.

Riding a bike gives you a degree of control over your own destiny, however difficult your circumstances.

There's something about getting about under your own steam, independant, and free to go as far as your legs will take you.

Everyone should have the chance to do this.

I got my first pretty nondescript bike at 12ys old, after a lot of pestering, and loved it -

'Freeedom'

- raises fist Mel Gibson stylee :laugh:

Thankfully I never really stopped exploring or enjoying that thrill of being able to get places using simple tech, with only my own stamina as limiting factors.

Hopefully your story will get a few more onto the open road, for all the benefits and joys it brings :okay:

Thanks for retelling it,.
 

weareHKR

Senior Member
Great write up, almost reminds me of a short film I saw not so long back, can't for the life of me find it, perhaps it was posted on here?
I wish you all the luck for the future @johnnyb47 :okay:
 

Johnsco

Old Fettler
Thanks for your story Johnny.
It's never too late to re-discover an old pleasure.
In my case, the old Carlton (bought for a fiver in 1966), sat in the garage and rusted for over 30 years.
During lock-down last year, my partner said: "Why don't you get your old bike fettled-up and give it a go".
At the age of 72, I had my doubts ....
So - Refitted and re-painted .... Here it is:
I did all my own work ... No regrets.
and
This is a great forum for information - I've learned a lot.
I'm off today for a ride.
 

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Drago

Flouncing Nobber
Location
Poshshire
A nice retrospective there Johnny. You probably speak for many of us.

I have to stay in tomorrow as Mrs D has an expensive item being delivered. I'm already feeling distraught and upset at the thought that it might arrive later in the day and I won't get a ride in.

Having been retired for a few years I'm used to being on my own all day, so ive probably handled the mental stresses of lockdown better than many. Nevertheless, the freedom and release of the bike ride is what has kept me not just sane, but chilled and surprisingly pragmatic about the whole situation.

We are the cyclists. We dig it.
 

Chislenko

Well-Known Member
Nice story but I am slightly confused, I have re read it to make sure I have not read it incorrectly but am stumped.

You cycled 12 mile to school but when you cycled home for lunch it was only 3 mile each way.

Think I may have just worked it out 4 journeys of three mile per day = 12?
 
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BrumJim

Forum Stalwart (won't take the hint and leave...)
Thank you for that. It is a great story.

I am fortunate in that I haven't plumbed the depths of despair and rejection that you have clearly been through, but no one is without their troubles, and my own personal achievements on a bike have given me a greater sense of what is possible. Furthermore I've met several people through cycling, some great company, some who I would never have met in regular life. I also hope that the time spent riding with my son will help him through puberty and beyond, and give him that place of refuge when life is looking way too difficult. And also teach him that those mental hills that seem too steep and long are as conquerable as those actual hills on our favoured cycling routes.

You have come out of the other end makes you a better person that me, regardless of what issues remain. Onwards and upwards. And then downwards with wind in your hair squealing "weeeeeeee!!!!".
 
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