Archive for July, 2011

The end of an all-too-short era

July 21, 2011

Things haven’t felt right for a while.

There’s something wrong with the back end of my bike, and it’s taken me days to put my finger on it. It feels somehow ‘floppy’. Sometimes when I’m riding along I feel almost as if I’m bouncing up and down on a full-suspension mountain bike. When I go round corners the bike no longer feels as tight and sure as it used to. I regularly think ‘oh no – puncture!’, and then realize I’m wrong, and it’s just this unspecified floppiness.

And all this movement is deadening the effort I put in. My legs have lost their spring and strength, and I feel as if I’m struggling to push a heavy old bike with flat tyres up a muddy hill, into a headwind.

And yes, before you ask, I have pumped up my tyres recently. I’ve also rebuilt my back wheel. I’ve tightened my chain, and checked the chainline’s straight. The bearings in the hub, bottom bracket and pedals all appear to be intact. I’ve examined the cranks for hairline cracks and the rim for signs of impending doom. My cleats are in good shape. The chainring bolts are all still there.

I began to wonder whether the problem was with me, and my body, and the way I’m set up on the bike. Maybe I’d somehow twisted my legs into a funny position that meant they were no longer suited to cycling (…I hypothesized glumly). I somehow felt as if I was sitting lower or further back on the saddle, so I’ve been putting it up, millimetre by millimetre, and today finally decided to begin the laborious and frustrating process of adjusting the angle. (It can take a day or two of constant fiddling, riding, fiddling, riding, fiddling, riding to get my saddle in exactly the right position, and I’ll often tolerate it at slightly at the wrong angle, rather than submit myself to this tedium and risk making it worse.)

And then I spotted it. A crack in my seat tube.

I nearly cried when I saw it. And I welled up all over again when Nhatt in Fitzrovia Bicycles told me I’d probably only get another week out of Evelyn, if I’m lucky. We haven’t been together all that long, and he was only ever meant to be a stop-gap, but I ended up falling far more in love with him than I ever was with the Condor.

So now, on top of everything else, I need to find a new bloody bike.

How ridiculous

July 14, 2011

You might have seen this in St James’s Square, SW1.

It had never occurred to me that my stationary and unattended bicycle might pose such a threat to the general public.

With this in mind, I have started to brainstorm a few other signs that I feel ought to be displayed around London, for our own safety.

Black cab drivers can cause psychological trauma to cycle couriers and will be removed without notice.

More children are hit by cars every year than are abducted by paedophiles. If you have a car, please avoid driving it in any area where children may be present.

Around 10 London cyclists are killed by HGVs every year. All HGVs seen in central London will be immobilized and impounded.

Poor air quality is the cause of more than 4,000 premature deaths in London every year. Cars and other vehicles found polluting the air will be confiscated without notice.

On Monday, Jack from Fullcity had his shoulder dislocated by a pedestrian who crossed the road without looking, and then ran away without stopping to check he was alright. If you are a pedestrian, please refrain from walking. Failure to do so may result in your arrest and prosecution.

Or am I being ridiculous?

I am, aren’t I? After all, bicycles are far more of a danger to human safety than cabbies, cars, HGVs, pollution and careless pedestrians.

A tailwind day

July 14, 2011

Sometimes a day is simply wonderful for no other reason than that you’re in a good mood and there’s nothing wrong with your bike.

And sometimes it gets even better as a result of free food.

I happened the Broadgate Farmers’ Market this afternoon and wandered around eyeing up all the incredible food on offer and wishing either that I could afford it or that someone would give me some.

I finally gave in to my growling stomach and spent £1.50 on a sausage roll (probably the cheapest thing there, although it also looked very impressive compared to the usual Greggs offerings).

And the very nice chap behind the stall recognized that my need was greater than any of the office workers milling about, and threw in a brownie for free.

And it was one of the nicest brownies I’d ever tasted.

Thank you Joe!