Steve Meertens is the digital manager for Fairfax Media in the Waikato region and has accepted a challenge to complete the The Avantidrome REV Cycle Festival's 100km race.
During the next six weeks Steve will write for the Waikato Times about how he is going from novice road cyclist to taking on one of the most popular and toughest annual cycling events in the Waikato.
Early January 2014, late Friday afternoon I get a tap on the shoulder from a workmate.
"Are you up for a challenge?" "Hmm," I say, "go on." I'd had KFC for lunch and was feeling somewhat guilty.
"We need someone to accept a road cycling challenge." And so it began.
I had been caught at a very weak moment, Friday afternoon, summer haze, post-lunch KFC glaze. But, hey, I'm a red-blooded Kiwi male who doesn't mind giving things a go.
And what a challenge this was going to be.
The road race I've accepted to compete in is The Avantidrome REV Cycle Festival's 100km race in late February. Now, I must admit I have done a bit of cycling before on the roads, albeit mainly delivering papers or cruising to university.
However, the cycling craze of late hasn't completely slipped my attention either so I guess this was a great opportunity to see what all the fuss was about.
Cyclists are an interesting bunch, often polarising opinion. So for the next six weeks I'll be discussing how I'm doing with the training for the event, getting out of my comfort zone, the support I get from the cycling community and anything else I find interesting on my travels - as well as obviously having a crack at cycling 100km with hundreds of other people who will have much more experience at road cycling than I do.
My first step was to get a bike.
Avanti and The Rev organisers arranged for me to head down to Avantiplus Cycology at The Base to get fitted up for a bike. Scott Raynes, the owner, was there to greet me and to nudge me in the right direction. He took my height, both standing and sitting along with a few other measurements to determine which bike size would suit me.
Now, at this point I should point out that I am not the same size as one of these Italian or Spanish pint-sized cycling rockets that you see on TV - I am 193cm and over 90kg so this 100km ride should earn me a quiet beer or three.
But the Rev looks like a very popular event, managed by U Leisure at Waikato University, and there are loads of different distances available to be ridden on the day. The course looks really tough and not what I expected, but more of about the course and the terrain next week. I'm off to slip into some very unflattering lycra and head out for a ride.
By the way, here's a fun fact for the day - I have the same amount of Tour de France titles as Lance Armstrong.
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