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A Riders Dark Story

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StartFragmentMy name is Ian Cuthbertson and I am an addict. It has been 4 days since my last bike ride because of the storms (and I am not happy). This is my tail of woe. I grew up in a risk averse family and being the eldest child I was to be protected, and this meant no bike for me. Of course that lasted until puberty when a teenager does whatever he can get away with, including building a bike from parts found in Ken's garage in Gladesville. In that particular shed not all parts were available so some jury-rigging was required. In place of a stem bolt a piece of dowel was hammered into the bottom of the steerer tube. Available brake cables were not long enough to reach the rear brake so a shoe against the tyre would suffice in an emergency. The bike is a goer so let's go collect Donald in Ryde. My first ride is going great - where now? Let's go to Canberra. Off we go and 2k later I got clipped from behind by a car which meant I then had some explaining to do when Mum came to collect me from the hospital. She was pissed because she didn't drive and had to come in the bus. My true addiction to the bike started much later: Most young blokes tend to give up their pushy when they find women and alcohol. I went the other way. My sweetheart and I were going to the Barossa Valley for a holiday, and we were concerned that over zealous wine tasting might result in a car crash and expensive repairs which we couldn't afford. The solution was obvious. Get some push bikes. If we have a drink-riding crash there would be some gravel rash, but getting home would be no issue. Brilliant! (Please note, this was a very long time ago when prevailing attitudes to alcohol and roads were very different). We just needed a wine skin so we could have something to drink between vineyards because you know it would be stupid to carry glass on a bike. We actually survived that holiday and had a fantastic time in the Barossa. Hey, why are all vineyards at the top of hills? I thought I was in control of my fledgling riding habit, but soon I was sneaking off into the night to commute to work on Graveyard Shift. I thought it would be undetectable on evening shift too. Eventually what the neighbours thought didn't matter and the day shift commute became part of my life. I was so smart. I though that no harm could come from a little tipple of a ride to the city, and it was way faster than the bus. I could get back on the bus any time I wanted. Right? My family was very concerned for my sweet darling Lyn who I entreated to have "just have another ride with me". It seemed like such a lovely way to spend time together and Lyn was a happy social rider. As the kids were growing up things got pretty ugly because I was even taking them for a spin. I would often run with them, so I could push them on the hills and they could carry the drinks. At least I was no longer refuelling with wine by then. I got a wake up call when I realised I had to use tradesmen to complete home maintenance tasks that I previously found easy and fun. The homestead was being neglected because I was slipping a few "recreational rides" into my weekends. Just one or two to take the edge off. Something had to be done so I tried substitution therapy. Swimming and running sobered me into a Triathlete which I persevered with for 24 years, but the bike is still 60% of a Tri and it was clear I was hiding my true nature. One day I rode out of the transition area leaving my running shoes and goggles behind. I probably reached the bottom of the barrel shortly after when I started begging people for money so I could ride. I would justify it because the money was ostensibly for various "worthwhile charities". With help from my family I have been able to achieve some balance in my life, and often new people I meet don't realise straight away that I am a bike rider. It is still a one-day-at-a-time process, but I can maintain some balance with rides on just 4 days a week. If you are living with a cycling tragic, the best support you can give them is to encourage them to join a support group called a bunch. Your loved one will benefit from long periods of post ride calm and improved social bonding skills. EndFragment

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