You know that thing where you want to make a good impression when you meet new people. And you know when instead of creating that good impression something really embarrassing happens that has the opposite effect. Well … that. The story goes like this.
We are new to Barwon Heads and therefore to Talking Heads the great little community zine that arrives in our letterbox once a month. It's been a fabulous way to learn about the community we have chosen to call home and among lots of other things we read about a bunch of people who call themselves the Barwon Heads Cycling Club. Seemed like they had fun riding their bikes.
And then we discovered that some of our neighbours were part of this lycra brigade. Now you’ve got to understand that I’m one of those blokes who swore never to be seen in tights, and I certainly would not be of the kind that took over large sections of cafes while respectable folk tried to pretend they weren’t there.
But then someone loaned me a bike and I found myself peddling along Thirteenth Beach over summer. And then, from deep in his garage my brother-in-law (thanks Gregg) retrieves, dusts off, and offers me his not-likely-to-be-ridden-again treadlie. And another neighbour convinces me to join the morning ride. And so it is with my ‘new bike’ that I finally summon the courage to get out of bed at 5:30 and ride around to the CFA (where every day of the year a group ride leaves at 5.45am) to go on my first ever group ride. I was assured they were nice (mainly) blokes, but I was still a bit apprehensive.
I ride around the back of the group to take my place on the right hand end of the line … except that my new peddles and matching cleats were a bit stiff and instead of gracefully pulling up and introducing myself I overbalance sideways, find myself laying on the concrete with my legs tangled in the bike. I wave sheepishly, ‘G’day guys, I’m Col.” So much for those first impressions. No one laughed, at least out loud. Instead during the ride I got a trickle of anecdotes of how different riders had also ‘done it’.
So here I am, a couple of months in and I find myself waking up early and looking forward to a morning peddle. I still feel a tad awkward clunking around in bike shoes and skin tight kit, but when in Rome …
And it really is a great bunch of people. I’ve started to learn a whole new set of jargon and have been part of serious discussions about how to ride well and what it means to be a community oriented club. I’ve already seen people go out of their way to be there for each other and experienced how morning exercise can be peppered with some meaningful dialogue, even though I tend to be too puffed to talk in more than half sentences.
The first weekend after we moved here we sat next to Cadel in the local cafe. Perhaps it was a sign.