With my new found knowledge of my place in RideLondon, my next challenge was buying a bike. Having recently moved into an unfurnished flat, I used my adult reasoning skills to come to the conclusion that rather than buy any furniture, it’d be a good idea to buy a bike (/clothes horse/chair).
I’d already done a fair bit of googling on the basis that I might get a place, so had a bit of an idea of what I might need to take on my first sportive. Having cyclist friends came in very handy here, especially when they’re the sorts who blog about what to buy if you’re taking up cycling…(if you’re thinking of taking the plunge, highly recommend this → https://tbcandme.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/buy-buy-bye/).
After much deliberation, hours unraveling the hierarchy of Shimano group sets, debates about whether steel/aluminium/carbon really can speak to you and weighing up not spending a fortune vs. not making things harder work than they needed to be, I settled on the B’Twin Triban 520 (if you wanna be B’Twinz → https://www.decathlon.co.uk/triban-520-road-bike-sora-black-red-id_8322663.html). Hopefully a good compromise on all of the above. Plus – liked the colour didn’t I.
Off we (myself and the aforementioned blogging cycling extraordinaire of a friend Jess) went to decathlon to pick up my new toy, an hour spent buying what felt like everything under the sun (helmet, lights, pump, tools, inner tubes, bottle cages and a jacket) and we were out the door, bike in hand, feeling a bit like I was taking my unnamed firstborn home from the hospital. A bit.
Having never ridden a road bike before, it being dark and my house being nearly 8 miles away, I settled on the overground to get home. I’d underestimated how many stairs I’d have to carry the new arrival up/down, but apart from that, arrived successfully at Gospel Oak station only to have the sudden realisation that I now had to ride this thing the epic 5 or so minutes home.
I looked at a man near me unlocking his bike, and told myself to blend in, “Look like a cyclist, act like a cyclist, be a cyclist Louise”. I turned my lights on, this seemed to be the done thing, then, upon seeing a car on the road and panicking, proceeded to walk along the pavement. Nailed it.
“LOOK LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING LOUISE” – Louise to Louise, 2017
Having made it onto a side road like a pedestrian, I decided I should try and get on my bike. Slightly wobbly start past an Ocado* delivery over (not sure I convinced the delivery man that I did know what I was doing), I was beginning to get my balance, then immediately encountered a hill (quick game of press anything until you find a lower gear).
*Other supermarkets are available.
My road was in sight, I’d MADE IT, I felt like a triumphant adventurer returning home, when in fact I’d cycled about half a mile. It’s the small things, definitely should have put it on Strava. I chucked my bag at my housemate, demanded she look at my purchase, then went for a further little pootle up and down some empty roads near my house. Returning back I remembered I needed to carry my bike up the stairs, a slow process when you’re trying not to hit every wall in sight.
Another very important job for Day 1 as a professional** cyclist was giving the bike a name, I know I need to get this guy onside if he’s going to carry me 100 miles in July, so he couldn’t remain nameless much longer. Should this bike have been female, Fern (aka Fernature aka Furniture) had been suggested by my one of my housemates, considering the interior design sacrifices made, but alas he was definitely a boy. Some variable and questionable suggestions discarded (notable mentions go to Fido, Steve and Leo), I decided to call him Birtie because Triban = naBIRT backwards, nice to be tenuous isn’t it.
**Defining professional as owning a bike.
And this concludes Day 1 of mine and Birtie’s relationship. Achievements achieved:
- Bought bike
- Rode bike
- Found gears
I am now on the road that leads to the Ride100. How long until I can claim the status of Louise Powell – Cyclist?