After weeks of recuperation, I began to ease my way into work via spending some time in the shop fettling my Bianchi into a state worthy of my imminent attempt at yet another "comeback". Just being in the Batcave twiddling my spanners was a great feeling, and working on my own machine was enjoyable, if somewhat frustrating as I knew I was still a while away from being able to actually ride it. I figured once I was able to ride I'd be best to ease into things, so to that end I removed my 53 x 39t chainset and cleaned up the bottom bracket...
...then fitted my spare 50 x 34t compact cranks. Together with the 12-26 cassette on my "training wheels" I thought I should have gearing low enough to be able to cope with any small rise and gentle headwind I may encounter on my initial loops.
While I was at it, I swapped out a carbon headset spacer and fitted my new Bike Pure one - a great cause and a little bit bling to boot!
Of course, I wouldn't be me if I didn't take some more photos of random parts of my bike:
Downtube logo. I know wearing the World Champion colours isn't cool if you aren't actually a World Champion, but I justify it to myself tenuously by proudly having worked for the NZ MTB Team that won gold through 2006 Junior World DH Champion Cameron Cole.
Pantographed bottom bracket shell and Campagnolo Super Record b/b cup - I can't afford the gruppo so this small taste of SR goodness suffices in the meantime.
Columbus Squadra Corse top tube sticker.
A couple of my rough and ready Humbrol touch-ups on the seat cluster of my trusty old steed. From a metre away you don't even notice at all how battered she actually is.
And, because you wanted it, the top cap of my headset! YUSS!
According to strict instructions from Nurse Jacq I was supposed to wait a few more days until the proscribed six weeks since my op had passed, but a chance to have an easy ride on a windless day was too rare an opportunity to let slide by and, on the spur of the moment (and once she wasn't around!), I deemed that the time was right for my maiden voyage. Nearly eight weeks after I rode one of my bicycles I finally threw my leg over one again - and by threw, I mean slowly and carefully struggled to climb aboard in the manner of a very old man.
In an ostentatious display of overkill considering the ride I planned to undertake, I decided to dress in full roadie regalia, including the stylee new Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop shorts that my friend Ben had very kindly scored for me on a recent trip to Texas. When I last rode it was in the height of summer, but today's autumnal conditions called for arm and leg warmers, mitts and even my gilet...
Somewhat apprehensively I wobbled off down the road...
But it wasn't long at all before I was able to revel in the much-missed sensation of the world passing beneath my wheels - I was riding!! I trundled down through Island Bay, getting a cheery shout as I passed through the shops from Mat of Floyd's fame. Feeling appallingly slow and unsteady but otherwise not too bad, I hit Island Bay and paused just long enough to create another of my winning panoramas...
After a short breather and physical stocktake I set off again around my beloved South Coast around to the Owhiro Bay visitors centre, and my planned turnaround point.
I leaned on my machine and daydreamed of the day that my CX bike will carry me around to Devil's Gate.
Then I looked east towards Baring Head. All I see are places I want to ride.
Feeling surprisingly stuffed, I took the chance to regroup by taking my first look at the relatively new Te Kopahou Reserve/Red Rocks visitor centre.
My Bianchi is sure looking mighty fine, if I say so myself...
...fine enough that I was worried about leaving her outside when I realised that there was lots of fascinating info I'd like to peruse within.
It's a very cool little "museum" that's well worth checking out if you get the chance.
Once I had had a wander around I set off for home, visibly pleased with my efforts so far.
Yes, it's true - I am the Master of the Self Pic. After 45 minutes for a ride that should take twenty, I made it slowly but safely home, tired but happy as hell to have finally got out for a spin.
I write this blog today in lieu of cycling again, as I now feel like I've done about three hundred sit-ups. My core clearly needs a lot more time until I'm even back to the poor level I was at pre-hernia, but I'll work on it. It's amazing how weak and unstable I felt; simply standing to pedal was most discombuberating, with a sudden onset of weaving and unsteadiness most uncharacteristic of my usual road bike handling skill levels. In light of that and today's discomfort, I think will leave my next ride for a few days...
Until then, thanks for reading. Cheers, Oli