The Idiots’ School Of Messengering

They say you learn something new every day. Well, I don’t. I learn something old every day. Something I’ve already learned, often more than once, but forgotten, and now have to learn all over again.

Here are a few of this week’s valuable lessons, all of which are things I really should know by now.

‘Wearing as little as possible’ is not an acceptable summer waterproofing solution. Mind you, wearing the useless Montane jacket, that lets in all the rain and then keeps it in, so that you get a waterfall out of each sleeve whenever you straighten your arms isn’t all that great either. And it’s still way too warm for the Swrve Milwaukee, so you’ll end up fighting rain with sweat. Just face it. You’re going to be drenched whatever you wear. But if you wear as little as possible, you’ll end up riding home late at night, with your teeth chattering, barely able to keep the bike straight because you’re shivering so much. So don’t do it in future. Please. Thank you.

Your Abus lock always gets sticky on rainy days. So carry that mini can of WD40 you own for the express purpose of unsticking it. I mean, really. You even checked the forecast. You should have known this would happen.

A new pair of Assos shorts will breed wardrobe dissatisfaction. By making you realize how old and threadbare and uncomfortable all your other shorts are. Even the two-year-old Assos ones. Was it really worth it?

Don’t put off changing your tyres for ‘one more day’, especially if you’ve actually bought the new tyres already and they’re sitting in the corner of your room. Even if you get in really late, shivering and teeth-chattering because you’ve been wearing as little as possible and riding around in the rain all day. Because the next day it’ll be raining again, and all the little shards of glass in the road will be floating pointy-side-up. And if both tyres are so old that they’re literally full of big gaping holes, then yes, of course you’re going to get punctures. (Interestingly, both tyres wore out at exactly the same time, even though the front one was a Bontrager and the back one an Armadillo. I can’t remember if I put them on at the same time though.) And if you’re stupid enough only to have one spare tube between two holey tyres, then it’s entirely your own fault that, when a big piece of glass rips a hole in your Armadillo at 5.10, when it’s pouring with rain and you have four jobs on board, you rip the valve head off when pumping it up, and have to waste another half an hour running to the nearest Evans to buy new tubes – and a new tyre too, even though you have one at home, because the old one is so knackered that there’s no chance it’ll get you that far. Idiot.

Get a proper spanner. You’re ruining your track nuts.

You need to slow down when turning from Euston Road onto Fitzroy Street. Haven’t you skinned enough elbows there? You really should know better by now.

Shut up about summer being ‘just as hard as winter’. It really isn’t. You never remember, until it happens, just how physically draining it is riding around all day in the cold and the wet, rather than just riding around all day. Bad weather is so exhausting that you start to fall asleep an hour earlier than usual in the evenings. And, while you can get away with cheap and cheerful kit in summer, winter is where everything starts to go wrong, every day. So get ahead now. Stock up on batteries and spare tubes. Replace your chain and your brake pads. Get your winter bike back on the road.

Stop procrastinating.


You’ll thank yourself, come December.

Get on with it.


14 Responses to “The Idiots’ School Of Messengering”

  1. trio25 Says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who does silly things like the above!

  2. thatmessengerchick Says:

    You’re not. My life is a veritable catalogue of stupidity, most of the time.

  3. Steff Says:

    Which is the useless Montane jacket? I have one of the
    Featherlite smocks which doesn’t claim to be waterproof, but I find that it at least enforces a distinction between water within (warmish) and water without (cold). For a proper stormproof that doesn’t make you sweat to death, though, nothing beats Paramo.

  4. thatmessengerchick Says:

    It’s the Featherlite H2O. It was really good to start with, but stopped working after literally only about five outings (I only use a waterproof when I REALLY need to, and this was a very dry summer). I had a long email correspondence with a nice chap from Montane, who reckoned it might have something to do with how much I sweat. He recommended NikWax, which I will get round to using at some point, but it’s not cheap, and I’m rather annoyed that the jacket didn’t last longer in the first place.

    • Steff Says:

      I’ve dodged a bullet there, then, since I was pondering an “upgrade” to the H2O. FWIW, I have a bottle each of Nikwax Tech Wash and Tx Direct wash-in, which you’re welcome to have a go with as I’m unlikely to finish them any time soon.

      Also worth mentioning is that most of the Goretex/eVent/what have you breathable waterproofs don’t like being grubby – fine mud/grit spoils the waterproofing and I suspect London’s omnipresent diesel particulate gunge will have much the same effect. Just sticking them in the wash with a reasonably gentle washing powder has helped me before.

      • thatmessengerchick Says:

        Ooh, thanks for the Nikwax offer! Do I know you in real life? πŸ˜€

      • Steff Says:

        We’ve met in real life (at South Drinks and the Duke) but couldn’t really be said to know each other. We have mutual friends, though. I’m the chap with shaven head, the (now somewhat reduced, chiz chiz) ‘tache and the red and yellow Webster.

      • thatmessengerchick Says:

        Oh, I remember you! Will try and coordinate something next time I’m going to be at South Drinks. Won’t be tomorrow though – I need to spend a few days not drinking.

      • Steff Says:

        To be honest, I’m not often at Souths. I do work a couple of minutes from the juice bar/bike shop on Pitfield Street which I think you’ve mentioned on here, though. Failing that, I’m often around the Duke of a Friday with Max et al. Have dinged you contact details via FB.

  5. Redbike Says:

    I slowly started to carry more and more bits and bobs when I commuted.

    If I was on the bike all day I would end up with so much junk in my bag there would be no room for the packages.

  6. Mike Says:

    Cor, it’s NOT just me that’s come off turning into Fitzroy Street more than once!

    I felt a proper plum doing it the second time. And destroying another pair of trousers (my knees always seem to hit first, not elbows).

    • thatmessengerchick Says:

      Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one!

      If I come off there one more time, I’m going to put a warning sign up.

      • Mike Says:

        I stopped at that turning today and had a look at it – there’s a half inch lip where the kerbstone doesn’t meet the road surface. Enough to knock you wheel sideways ever-so-slightly, putting you off balance as you hit the sloped cobbles.

        Add to that turning in at a very shallow angle because there’s ALWAYS traffic backing up from not merging with the underpass very well…

      • thatmessengerchick Says:

        I’ve started turning down Conway Street instead. It only took me two years of skinned elbows to realize this was an option. 😦

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