I’m not sure which name to use anymore to introduce myself.
Daniel, Dan, Euro Dan, Giro Dan, Giro D, that 60kg bloke etc. I was known simply as ‘Bala’ for the first 27 years of my life but things seem to have changed since taking up cycling.
I was born and raised in Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs (for cyclists, not far from The Dandenong Ranges). I grew up loving and playing footy… real footy... AFL (Go the Hawks) and dreamed of becoming an AFL footballer. My height and weight seemed to get in the way of this dream but fortunately it was ideal for another sport/past time, running. I spent over 10 years training and racing to get the most out of myself. I trained with my High School team Marcellin College and Athletics club Box Hill. I loved both the challenge and social side of training and racing with a team. I never made an international team but raced at numerous National Cross Country and National Track and Field Championships. I loved it. Nothing beat the feeling of freeing myself through the local trails of the Yarra River along with the exhilarating thrill of racing.
During this time, I finished my degree in Clinical Prosthetics and Orthotics and had to make a bold move to Sydney for work. I am now an Orthotist (google that one if you don’t know it) at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, making assistive devices for children with conditions such as Cerebral Palsy and Spina Bifida.
It was here in Sydney I met my partner Ellie. And it was Ellie that was my emotional support for transitioning into cycling. It had appeared that my intensive training schedule which I had undergone for many years had taken its toll. Ellie then joined me alongside my current coach at the time, Jeremy Roff (best bloke in athletics) to see an Orthopaedic Surgeon in November 2017. The Doc basically told me I need to lay off the heavy training load of running and pick a new sport to focus my competitive edge towards.
Enter my good mate Charles Wheeler. Charlesy and I studied together in Melbourne and lived together briefly here in Sydney. Charles was the push I needed, “Well, you should take up cycling”, “You’d kill it up the climbs”, “Join Parklife”.
So I did. With heaps of support from my family back home and Ellie by my side, I took the bait and got on the bike. I was riding my old man’s hand-me-down Wilier, Izoard XP. A beautiful Italian bike and I absolutely loved it. My new journey had started. Charlesy egged me on for a few local rides, getting used to the road riding etiquette. I then joined my first Bobbo group ride a few weeks later. From humble beginnings, on January 20 I rode 10:29 up Bobbin Head West, it hurt a lot, but the hurt is just the best part isn’t it?
Since then it has been full steam ahead. Slowly integrating myself into the regular Tuesday Jungle Express at Parramatta Park, the Malspec Lane Cove Ride on Thursday, the Famous Parra Friday Brian Banana Bonanza, some hectic Red Flag cookery rides on weekends and of course some awesome PLCC weekend racing all over Sydney and NSW.
It is guys like Marc Agostino that are invaluable to the Park Life Cycling Club, he is a wealth of knowledge and has helped me wrap my head around the technical aspects of my bike and accessories. Guys like Nash Kent have given me countless racing tips to give me an edge come race day. Guys like Panther, Cesar and Shannon that get you laughing at 5:30 in the morning and make it such an enjoyable experience.
The Club is not to be underestimated as a whole. The inclusive nature of the club has meant that I have been welcomed with open arms, treated with respect and shown the ropes by just about every member at some point in the first 9 months of riding.
I have adopted cycling and I have been adopted into PLCC.