From not being able to ride 500 metres three years ago, one reader is ready to try his first MTB race but needs some advice from other readers.
– By Hendrik Jansen
About three years ago I realised I had to do something about my health as I am an office worker and I was living a very unhealthy life, like so many around me. I grew up cycling and it was my only means of transport until I left school, some 28 years ago, and I didn’t realise how unfit I really was after so many years of doing nothing.
I had a three-year old Raleigh MTB and I told my wife one afternoon that I had decided to start cycling again the next day. I pumped the wheels and made sure everything was ready for the next day after work. Arriving home I changed into a t-shirt, shorts and tackies and told her that I was going for a quick few kilometres. Man, I nearly died before I had done 500 metres! Initially I thought there was something seriously wrong with the bike. After about 10 minutes I turned back home and barely managed to reach it. My wife said something like “that was quick” but I didn’t have any breath left answer her. Fortunately it made me think.
I could have parked the bike and forget about it but the next afternoon I forced myself to go for a ride again. It took me almost a month before I could do five kilometres without blowing a gasket. I kept on pushing my target up. Earlier in the year I decided to treat myself and after a lot of research I bought a Momsen 329. I realise that it is not top of the class but I really enjoy my bike.
Sometimes it is still a struggle to overcome my inherent laziness but lately it has become much easier. I live in a smallish town, Potgietersrus, and there are not many people around here who cycle, especially MTB. I found a partner in a colleague and we try to motivate each other. One of the benefits of our rural area is that there are so many lovely places to cycle. I can be out of town within five minutes of leaving home on my bicycle and I try to make best use of the opportunity. I’m happy to report that we now manage to do 40+ kilometers without serious health problems.
I am looking for some advice on doing my first MTB race. Because I have not been exposed to any MTB races so far I’m a bit scared to try it. What do you suggest? Where should I start? What sort of time should I aim at to do a 40 kilometre ride in order to prevent me from making my name #@$% in front of other people?
Do you have any advice for Hendrik? Please post your comments below.