Life’s a bike
A light-hearted look at what can go wrong
The sportive blues
You prepare everything the night before. You get up at 4am, load the car quickly and drive for 3 hours. You park the car, go to check in, pick up your bib and timing chip, come back to the car and set up your bike. You pump up the tyres, prepare your bidons and eat your pre-start energy gel while looking over the route profile one last time. It’s cold so you wait a few more minutes before changing into your cycling kit… which is when you remember your shoes are still sitting on the radiator at home, drying out after the last ride. Life’s a bike.
After a wet weekend, Monday morning dawns bright and clear as you head for the office. The sun shines brightly, forcing you to put on a pair of sunglasses as you wait in the long tailback. During the day, you keep glancing out of the window at the perfect blue sky. Your boss keeps you back late. You take it out on the turbo. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday bring more of the same. It’s still dry and sunny Saturday morning when you take the kids to football. The rain starts on cue, just as you start your 3 hour ride. Life’s a bike.
Glass in the road
It’s a great day to be out for a ride. Not too hot, not too cool, bowling along at a good pace. Everything is right in your world. Until you see the broken glass. Too late. No choice but to ride through it. Quick, brush the glass off the tyre! You lean forward and sweep it off the front tyre with your gloved hand. Now for the back tyre. Under the saddle, just behind the seat-post the tyre is easy to reach. In a millisecond the tyre grabs your glove, burns through it and jams your finger between the tyre and the seat-post. The wheel locks. Life’s a bike.
Riding on the track
You are lucky to live within commuting distance of an indoor velodrome. It is great for riding in winter when the roads are icy or it is raining heavily. You are really looking forward to today’s session: it has been a while. Exceptionally, you are driving your wife’s car because your own is at the garage. After an hour fighting through heavy traffic you arrive at last at the track. It is only after paying for the car park and walking down to the bike lockers that you remember the key to the bike locker is on the key-ring for the other car. Life’s a bike.
The riding partner
A week in advance your riding partner and you decide to do a long ride together on Saturday morning. Prudently, you give him a call before getting ready. “Hold on”, he says, “do you mind if we postpone for an hour?” You mope around the house wasting time for an hour. He calls again. “Sorry mate, something’s come up. How about this afternoon?” You announce this to your wife and have an argument about priorities and the (un)reliability of friends. You mow the lawn and do the shopping. When you get home there’s a message on the answering machine: “look, I should be there at 3 o’clock. If not, better go without me”. Soon before 3 o’clock it starts to rain. No sign of your riding partner. Life’s a bike.
The rain in Spain…
The weather forecast is for scattered showers, but it is all bright and sunny when you set out. You are only going for a two-hour ride. No point in carrying all that wet weather kit for such a short ride. It all looks perfectly settled. You set off, heading east. There’s a slight tailwind so you make good speed and after an hour have gone a surprising distance. Time to turn around. The horizon is black with storm clouds, the wind picks up strongly and the first drops fall, heavy and cold through your unprotected jersey. Life’s a bike.
For years you have carried a chain-splitting tool in your saddlebag. It has always been a bit awkward to fit in between the tyre-levers, the multi-tool and the spare inner tube, but it seemed prudent to carry it. You never know when you might need it. One day you clean out your saddlebag and decide there’s really no need to carry extra weight that never serves a purpose. The very next weekend, you fluff a gear change at the bottom of a steep hill and twist a link in your chain. The nearest bike shop is a five mile walk away, up and down several hills. By the time you get there they are closed for lunch. Life’s a bike.
You are not one of those unprepared idiots that go out for a ride without a spare inner tube, tyre levers and a pump. You’ve been proved right several times over the years, fixing both your own punctures and other people’s (payment accepted in beer or cake, depending on the time of day). Today your main bike is at the repair shop so you grab the spare for a quick lunchtime blast. It’s only when you are 20km away and ride over a nail that you remember the puncture repair kit is still in the mini saddlebag on the other bike. Life’s a bike.