SOME friendly neighbourly encouragement has sparked a new sporting addiction for Yangery's David "Fred" Serra.
The former Dennington footballer and current club vice-president never imagined he would swap his football guernsey for a lycra jumpsuit.
But persistent neighbour Danny Burke thought otherwise.
Burke, who is the Warrnambool Veterans Cycling Club (WVCC) president, even offered a temporary loan of an old bike to lure Serra into the sport.
For more than 12 months, Serra refused to balance on two wheels.
"I was as anti-cyclist as they come," he said.
"Danny tried for a year but I just thought it wasn't me.
"I'd never watched cycling on TV before, I had no interest."
But once the 41-year-old turned the pedals, there was no turning back.
Burke described Serra's sharp progression in road racing as "like a duck to water".
"Once I started I got hooked," he said.
"I played footy for a long time and when you retire you don't have anything to fill that competitive void.
"But cycling is a funny sport and there's an awful lot to learn.
"You have to work as a team to get to the finish line but once you get there it's every man for himself."
Serra said his wife, Louise, and three children have also slowly adjusted to the time-consuming activity.
"My wife never thought she'd see me in lycra," he said.
"But it's like footy; you wear footy boots because it helps you play.
"You have to wear the right uniform in cycling."
Serra will challenge his first 70-kilometre Camperdown to Warrnambool open veterans race tomorrow.
It will be his longest test yet.
He goes into the race with promising form, after finishing second in the 58km Geelong Open two weeks ago.
Serra said he was in a bunch of 80 cyclists at the final turn and was leading with 10 metres to go.
"But the guy who won stayed in my slip stream and conserved energy," he said.
"It was a very good tactic.
"I'm hoping to go one better this weekend.
"But if you have a little bit of success you're keen for more."
Serra said tomorrow's predicted blustery conditions could hinder his attempt at the podium.
"If it's going to be windy then it's going to be very hard," he said.
"The way I like to race is to go out really hard and try to catch the bunch in front.
"But if I get caught by the scratch bunch it's difficult to get a result (because) they can ride 10 kilometres quicker than me."
WVCC president Burke echoed Serra's forecast.
"It will be tough in the rain and with the south-westerly wind," he said.
"People who have done the training should get through."
After finishing in the top 15 in recent years, Burke said he was determined to cross the line first this weekend.
Other contenders for the podium include Clive Coomber, Simon Walsh, Barry Webster, Larry Logan, Gary Parsons and David Tozer.
The race starts at 10am in Camperdown.