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A tale of perseverance and downright stupidity.
For the first time in months I failed to sleep past 10:00 on a Saturday morning. Normally my working week and bizarre hours catch up with me and leave me staggering out from under the duvet just in time for the afternoon. Not this time though, I was as bright and chirpy at 10:30 as I should have been much later on a normal weekend afternoon.
So I decided to quickly pack the gear I had sorted the night before, check the bike, then tidy the house. For some reason the hours did not obey the rule of the clock, instead they obeyed the rules of a normal Saturday. Normally on a Saturday I have just four hours before my wife gets home, this time I had eight hours before I had to get out, but they passed as though they were three. A simple task, such as checking the tyre pressures, took nearly an hour!
Before I knew where I was it had gone 16:30 and I was trying to cook a meal. I ended up finishing eating at well past 17:15 before diving into the shower. I had hoped to leave home by 17:30 in order to ensure I was at the station without a rush, buy my ticket and then join FatBloke as he rolled through the station on the 18:00 train. As it was I didn’t leave until 17:45 so knew I would have a rush to get onto the train with a ticket.
0.2 miles down the road I am still uncertain as to what happened. I remember following a car as we approached a parked car. I remember that we were beginning to change course to go around that car, and that I had checked that all was safe for me to follow the car around the parked vehicle. I glanced down to check the water bottles were in their cages, looked up and the driver had performed an emergency stop for no reason. I grabbed my brakes, but unfortunately by then was too close and the bike was too heavy for the brakes to be efficient. I went into the back of the car at 15 to 20 miles an hour. (Checking the next day I found what looks like a skid mark at least five metres long.)
I remember being spread-eagled across the rear windscreen, then gently sliding down the tailgate and onto the tarmac. As I got up I noticed that the wire to the speedometer had snapped. I cursed.
The passenger got out, well maybe they just leant out of the window? I really can’t remember. “Are you alright?”
“No, the wire’s snapped.”
Then I felt better, it was only the cadence cable, not the speedometer one. I would register the bike’s 6000th mile mid ride after all.
“Are you alright?” came a voice from the lady leaning out of her house window. The bang had been substantial.
“My bike’s broken” I said, as I realised that the two mudguard stays came up each side of the down tube.
“It doesn’t matter about the bike, are you broken?” uttered that legless torso hanging out of her window.
“It does matter, I’m supposed to be heading out for 120 miles now. That’s my weekend messed up!”
I picked the bike up and started out on that long 0.2 mile walk home. As I walked I phoned FatBloke and explained that I might not be riding after all.
Once home I opened the garage and reviewed the situation. The first bike I pulled out was a Brompton. I considered riding it, but to be honest, although I saw at least six on the ride last year I just couldn’t face it. One MTB had slicks on, but no rack. The Windcheetah, although tempting, needed a wheel which was only half built, plus I haven’t ridden it very far yet. I finally decided to ride my old best bike, an MTB that at least had road gears and a rack. The only downside was that it hadn’t been used since winter so still had the “tractor tyres” for the snow.
An hour later and the pedals had been swapped over, the rear lights transferred, the front lights found (the Schmidt hub obviously was no good unfortunately) the chain lubed, the brakes adjusted, the tyres were pumped back up (although I didn’t have time to change to the slicks fitted on the other bike) , all the luggage fitted (with the aid of many bungee straps) and most things were ready. I set out once again for the station.
Once on the train I called FatBloke again to let him know I was on my way, and asked if he could grab me a route sheet. This was where I discovered another of my cunning plans had gone astray, I had planned on riding with him to the start and so had no directions or knowledge of where to go. Fortunately he was able to give me directions that I memorised (no pen or paper) and I was lucky enough to spot another rider when nearly there that I followed to the start. Thank you, whoever you were.
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