Its spring and cyclists are everywhere in Melbourne.

September 4, 2007

Well I’m officially in training now. Like last year, I have signed up for Around the Bay in a Day. This is a huge Bicycle Victoria event. Thousands of cyclists participate. Last year I found it thrilling to be part of such a huge event. Heading off in amongst the throngs of other cyclists had a quality of excitement about it that is hard to describe.

I’ve been riding my bike in to uni. It was sunny today but there was a freezing southerly wind blowing. I had been fooled by the sunny appearance of the morning and had only worn riding shorts and Tshirt. It took two hills before I really warmed up, and even then my fingers poking out of my fingerless gloves stayed frozen for most of the trip.

I mentioned this to a young woman I was sitting next to in my morning class. She agreed about the wind and told me that she also rode in today. She reached into her bag and pulled out a thick, black, stretchy band.

I don’t know where I’d be without this, she said.

What do you use it for?

She popped it on her head. Ah, ear warmers!

Yep, and when I warm up, I just pull it down like this, she said modeling the action of pulling it down to her neck.

The ride to uni is a 30km round trip for me – good for general fitness but I really need to start thinking about doing a couple of long rides in the lead up to the event.

I’m part of the uni team and we have official team jerseys, which I think is pretty cool. Last year there were about 200 riders in the team. The jersey made it easy to recognise other team members and I enjoyed riding with various members along the way.

After my morning class, I went to pick up this year’s jersey at the uni bike shop. I walked into the shop and said, hi can I pick up my around the bay jersey here?

Can you? the guy behind the counter retorted with an ambiguous grin.

Well, I thought I could…

He smiled, name? I gave him my name. ID. I gave him my drivers license and he remarked pointedly about the photo, with not a small hint of sarcasm: Oh great hair cut!

Um yeah, well that isn’t a great shot, I said sheepishly.

He ticked my name off the list. We have a problem, he said, you’re down here for a medium and I think you’re a small.

Oh, um well it doesn’t matter if its a bit loose, said I.

Yes it does, he said seriously and he began to explain the physics of riding jersey design. So try the small on, he said handing one across to me.

What right here?

Yeah, just over your Tshirt.

OK.

See, you’re a small, young Jenne! He said this smugly and quite cheekily I thought because I’m not young and he was probably about my age too.

Once that was settled, he was on for a bit of a chat. He started explaining his philosophy to me about running the training rides for the uni team. His main focus was on riding etiquette and team building and he explained his strategies for achieving these aims in detail. I had been looking at the training ride dates and was intending to get to at least one of them.

I was thinking of doing the training ride last Sunday but I was too busy, I confessed, the weather was great, it would have been magnificent!

Nah, it was crap – huge head wind, he corrected me. Our conversation was drawn to a close by the arrival of some more customers into the shop.

Well, I might see you at the next one, I said as I turned to go. He waved, but was already attending his new customers.

I laughed as I walked back to my office after these two encounters with cyclists. I don’t know why. I just think its funny how sometimes your days have themes about them. Weirdly, I felt like I was a member of some sort of underground cycling community.

As I was riding home a cyclist traveling in the other direction, who was decked out in lime green and white matching riding gear, had the classic massive thighs and toned upper body, smiled and nodded a greeting to me. I returned the gesture. There is something in the air. Cyclists are out in force, and Melbourne is buzzing with it.

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