Archive for November, 2009

Cake for a good cause

November 25, 2009

I’ve been baking again. Possibly more than I’ve ever baked in my life. You see the brownies in the foreground of the picture? That’s one of four trays. And the flapjacks? Each tray is double-quantity. My mother would have a heart attack.

And I’ve put a lot of effort and imagination into this. The brownies come in two flavours (walnuts and mixed berries); the flapjacks come in three (lemon and poppyseed, raisin and almond, mango and coconut).

And why am I going to all this trouble? Tomorrow’s a very special day.

It’s Cycle Courier Appreciation Day, as organized by Moving Target and the lovely chaps at the LCEF. And various lovely people are going to be standing around where Shaftesbury meets Bloomsbury, handing out coffee, (my) cake, various freebies, and bike repairs. My controller (Andy) even said he tried to get time off work to go and help out, but was turned down – a shame, as accepting a coffee from your controller whilst bombing down into Covent Garden would be rather surreal.

I’m actually quite excited about it – I love events like this, where you end up with a big cloud of goodwill and mutual regard floating above you, and everyone’s happy and being nice to each other. And it’s a bit like birthdays and Christmas – we’ll all feel special and important for once. (Well, except me. I feel special and important every day.)

I’ll try and get some photos of the event itself tomorrow. And keep my fingers crossed that a) it doesn’t rain and b) the brownies aren’t reduced to rubble in my bag on the way down.

Advertisements

Guardian Podcast

November 25, 2009

It’s finally arrived!

Well, it’s been up for a while, but I couldn’t listen to it for some reason (so had to listen to everyone telling me how much they’d enjoyed it, and worry that it had been entertaining because of all the stupid things I said).

But thankfully it’s OK:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/audio/2009/nov/03/cycling-london-tribes-bikes

Cranking it up

November 11, 2009

I was riding along Margaret street at about 5:10 this afternoon, and suddenly fell off. I promise you this doesn’t often happen. In fact (aside from that unfortunate incident on the way home from the pub last week, which doesn’t count anyway, because I was wearing jeans), I haven’t fallen off properly since …ooh, at least last year.

Luckily it was a fairly minor fall. I was going fast, but luckily I slid, and ended up tangled up with my bike, in the path of a taxi, who had very kindly stopped. And my first reaction was embarrassment – as usual. I instantly assumed that everyone around me was terribly concerned about the poor girl who’d fallen off her bike, and that at least half of them would be thinking it was because she’d put the bike together incorrectly. In fact, I couldn’t help but suspect that myself. So I leapt to my feet, brushed off the gentlemanly concern of taxi drivers and passers-by (probably far too rudely – but I was keen to avoid Knights in Shining Armour), and then noticed that something appeared to be stuck to the sole of my right shoe.

‘Bugger’, I thought, ‘that’ll be my almost-brand-new cleat falling off’. But when I looked down, I saw my whole pedal still attached to my shoe. Improbably, the end of my crank had snapped right off.

Broken crank

This made me swear even more. Because replacing the cranks is a fairly major operation (and there I was feeling all proud for having changed my tyres and brake blocks last night), and I don’t have a crank puller – so I’d have to go to a bike shop. And of course they were all about to close, so I’d have to walk the bike home, and then walk it back into town tomorrow morning, and miss hours of work, and have to explain to my controller… Urgh.

But anyway. I legged it to Cavendish Cycles, full of high hopes, because they’ve bailed me out a lot in the past, and are just the kind of nice people who’d stay open a bit longer to help a courier in distress. But they turned out not to have any of the parts. They were suitably apologetic, but by now the post-crash shock had set in, and I was very close to tears, so I very abruptly said ‘fine, ok, I’ll got somewhere else’, and turned and left before I broke down in front of them. They probably think I’m frightfully rude.

So I walked all the way to Condor. By the time I got there it was ten to six and, although they’ve saved my life in the past (most notably when my forks snapped at 5pm and they fitted new ones then and there, right in the middle of the rush hour), I didn’t hold out much hope that they’d be able to now. I showed them my pedal (with the end of the crank still attached) on the off-chance, and expected to be told to come back tomorrow morning, and prepared to phone Lawrence to ask if he could possibly lend me a bike so I could work while mine was being fixed.

But they spoke to the mechanic and he said he’d do it! And what’s more, he did it in about seven minutes flat. At 17.54 I texted my friend Julia, in the pub round the corner, to tell her that – yay! – they were fixing it after all, but I might be a little late – and by 18.03 I was in the pub, being handed a glass of wine.

It’s great being a courier. Most people who get their bikes fixed in Condor probably have to wait at least 24 hours – but they did mine with no notice, at the busiest time of day, and turned it round within ten minutes. I shall take them beer tomorrow.