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.