The first time Paul Lutman hopped on his newly-purchased road bike, it was a rude awakening.
“I was astonished with how slow I was,” he admitted.
“I managed to get an hour on the bike before my butt and my legs gave up.”
This was despite spending the previous four months training on a stationary bike.
Accustomed to mountain biking back in Campbell River, Lutman was fairly new to Langley and saw more and more road cyclists.
So he purchased a beginner’s road bike from Fort Langley Cyclery.
Even still, he wasn’t convinced this was the sport for him.
“To be quite frank, it looked boring, just riding up and down the roads,” he said.
As a way to stay committed to his new sport, Lutman signed up for last year’s Prospera Valley GranFondo.
“To give myself a goal, so I would stick with the biking and give it a chance,” he explained.
The mass cycling event offers three distances: the 50-km PrestoFondo, the 88-km MedioFondo and the 160-km GranFondo. The third annual event, which begins and ends at the Fort Langley Historical Site, is set for this Sunday (July 20).
Lutman settled on the middle distance.
On his inaugural training ride that February day, Lutman made it 23 kilometres before his body told him to stop.
“But I stuck with it and by the time the Fondo rolled around (in July), I was doing about 250 kilometres a week on the bike and had gotten significantly faster,” he said.
Lutman shattered his pre-race goal — he was aiming to finish in the top half or top quarter of the 399-rider field in his distance — clocking in at 2:35:33.5, which was good for sixth place.
And in addition to finding a sport he was now passionate about, Lutman — who turns 49 later this year — dropped about 70 pounds. He was 235 pounds prior to taking up cycling.
Lutman’s story won him the Ultimate Opus Bike Package contest, which included a new bike (valued at $3,750), an Opus race kit, water bottles and a year’s worth of tune-ups from Fort Langley Cyclery.
The contest was run through the Prospera Valley GranFondo with a few sponsors providing the prizes.
And he is now also an avid cyclist supporter — he anticipates having ridden 7,000 kilometres this past year after the MedioFondo — whether he is riding alone or in a group.
“When I am by myself, I enjoy being out in nature with my thoughts,” he said.
“It is a good time to think, knowing full well I am putting in two or three hours (instead of) sitting in front of my TV.
“I am getting some exercise and enjoying the sights and giving myself a chance to think. I do some of my best thinking when I am out there.”
“And when I am in groups, I enjoy the camaraderie of road cycling,” he added.
“It really is a good group of like-minded people and I enjoy their company.”
Lutman raved so much about his positive experiences out on the road, that it has inspired his family.
“Like typical middle-aged people, we have been busy raising a family,” explained the father of two.
“My wife (Dailene) saw the benefit from what I was getting,” he said.
“(And) I am not sure if she missed me because I was spending literally 15 hours a week on the bike and having a great time and telling her all the great things I was seeing, discovering what is in the Valley.”
So his wife purchased a bike and will do the PrestoFondo. Lutman will stick with the MedioFondo and the couple hope to cross the finish line together.
His youngest daughter, Carrigan — she turns 18 this month — now has a bike as well, while older daughter Cassandra, 21, has asked her dad to do a triathlon with her next year.
And while Lutman once thought riding a bike along quiet back roads was boring, he knows that is far from the truth.
“Every day is a little bit different and it really is an entertaining way to spend a few hours,” he said.
“I just wish I had found it 30 years earlier.”
Paul Lutman (centre) was the winner of the Ultimate Opus Bike Contest.