“Unfortunately you won’t be able to ride horses anymore”. The words no lifelong horse rider wants to hear and the words that changed everything and set me on my path to cycling and finding PLCC.
I grew up in a small country town in the South Island of New Zealand and at 16 wanted to be a jockey. Luckily my Mum was smarter than me and told me I wasn’t allowed to try and be a jockey until I had done a “real job” in case it didn’t work out. After five years working in Chartered Accountants offices I finally packed it in and moved to the North Island (my own horse in tow) to chase the racing dream.
Unfortunately a fractured Tibia playing rugby ended my hopes of becoming a jockey but riding track work in the mornings was still possible, and the job of my dreams. I was lucky enough to be involved with a very good horse in New Zealand that I brought over to Sydney for the Derby and to Melbourne for the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup the following year. After being in Australia a few times I realised the weather was much more favourable for working outside than it was in New Zealand, along with the wages and working hours so I decided to make the move to Sydney in 2012 (again with my own horse in tow – and yes, it is as expensive as it sounds).
Fast forward four years to June 2016 where an accident while riding resulted in two fractures to my left femur and the end of my riding career, along with the hobby that had taken every minute of spare time I had since I was 10. To say I was at a loss trying to figure out how to rebuild my life was an understatement!
Me in a previous life
In early 2017 I was walking (if you could call it that) my two pugs at Heffron Park on a Tuesday night when I heard yelling and turned around to see a bunch of cyclists going faster than I’d ever seen cyclists go before! I had always been one to watch the Tour every year, and had previously cycled for a short time when recovering from an ACL reconstruction several years earlier (yep, that was horses too), so I decided to stay and watch and was totally blown away at how fast these guys were and thought to myself I am definitely coming back to watch this again next week! I was walking back to my car after the race when this guy on a bright green Madone rolled up to pat the pugs – enter Nash Kent.
Where it all started
This chance meeting got me thinking maybe cycling could help my leg, after all I’d used It before to help with my ACL recovery. After some disappointing visits to a few local bike shops in the Eastern Suburbs where no-one even came to see if I needed any help (at this stage I was still limping quite badly and was 10kg over weight so nothing remotely resembling a cyclist and clearly not worthy of their time) I decided to find out who the guy on the bright green bike was and ask for some help.
A few weeks later I found myself heading to Park Bikes. I was a bit nervous about going after the disappointing experiences at the other shops and quite conscious that I looked nothing like a cyclist – I couldn’t even walk properly and had lost quite a bit of confidence - but as soon as I walked in I got a smile and a “hi” from Nash and Chris Barlin came over and asked if I needed any help. It was the exact opposite from previous experiences and put my mind at ease straight away. I can say with 100% certainty that they made the difference between me getting into cycling or not. I ended up buying a second hand Trek Emonda as I was still expecting my leg to get better and thought once it was I’d be back horse riding and the bike would be sold. Long story short it didn’t. I can’t bend my knee any further than 90 degrees and I had that bike sitting up against a wall for six months before I could ride it! I managed to find someone to make me some 130mm crank arms so I could get around the top of the pedal stroke and had my first ride outside in September 2017, a month before I got the plates and screws out of my leg.
In January of this year I asked Nash if he would be able to help me with rehab and getting my leg going as I was mostly using my good leg to pedal with and the bad one really just being a passenger. Even though he didn’t really have time he agreed and his help has made a huge difference to me, not only with my cycling but reassuring and encouraging me when I thought I couldn’t do it and was on the verge of giving up. He somehow managed to talk me into doing my first ever group ride by joining the PLCC Prospect ride, which I was completely terrified of doing, but really enjoyed (special mention and thanks to Pat Egan who babysat me the whole ride) and now attend regularly. I did my first fondo ride this month at the Bowral Classic which I also really enjoyed and now have my sights set on L’Etape, although I think I’ll need to pack my walking shoes!
I’d just like to say a big thank you to Nash, Chris, Tom, Gordo & everyone at Park Bikes who are amazing every time I go into the shop and put up with all my questions along with Kieren, Russell, Carlijn, Renee, Pat, Mike, Paul and every member of PLCC. You have all been so welcoming and encouraging – thank you!
Bowral Classic 2018
A Paul Dorn Special