Who would have known there is actually a breakdown service for people using push bikes… it’s called the wife.
So I’m a little over ten days away from taking part in the standard version of Wiggle’s No Excuses Sportive near Grafham Water with my friends Matt Longman and Keith (who likes to pretend he has no surname).
I’m also not getting much time on the bike at the moment – January and February, which are traditionally quiet for the pub trade, have been trading above average for me so that’s great news, but the flip side is that it has kept me away from valuable training time.
Yesterday, though, Keith and I planned a 26 mile ride. It would be a relatively flat route but that would be good for keeping up a reasonable average speed. Off we set, heading from Chippenham to Isleham, and then out on to the Prickwillow Road. Dead straight, relatively flat and suffering terribly from subsidence, this road is wide open to the Fenland winds and likely to induce sea sickness if you drive down it in a Citroen, but on a road bike it’s reasonably straight forward.
Until, that is, you get 7.5 miles in to the ride and suffer a slow puncture on the rear wheel. Now, those who know me will be aware that I’m mechanically inept, so whilst most people think fixing a puncture is just like sticking a Band-Aid over a hole, I would find it easier to take over the Treasury from George Osborne.
I’m also quite lucky: I haven’t actually suffered a puncture on a push bike for many years and I think the last person to repair it for me was my Dad!
It didn’t help, either, that while we did have most of the kit with us for repairing a puncture, I’d left the hand pump clipped to my mountain bike back home. There was, therefore, no alternative – it was time to call the push bike breakdown service, otherwise known as my wife.
Stuck in the middle of East Anglian Fenland it was amazing that we had a mobile signal, but it did make us think about life before mobile phones. And, for that matter, people carrier cars. Ali arrived and, with both bikes secured in to the back, we headed home and started out again, this time with me on the mountain bike.
I had to work a bit harder as the MTB, being about twelve years old, is a lot heavier than the road bike and with thicker, mud-biased tyres it doesn’t role as easily. Still, it worked.
Until, that was, I decided it would be a good idea to cross the busy A11 near Tuddenham. Spotting a gap between a car and a truck that I could safely make it from one side to the other, I pushed down hard on the pedal, shot in to the middle of the carriageway and…
… the Derailleur gear jammed, pulled on the rear cassette and rammed the rear wheel in to the frame, bringing me to a rather rapid – and frightening – halt in front of said speeding lorry. (As this map image indicates…!)
It required another call for recovery, but this time in the guise of Alan, who’s son Scott Blazey is a motocross rider with a rather big van and some tools. But, as the day was coming to an end, it was decided to get a lift home and give up, rather than try and fix it at the roadside.
So now my mountain bike is knackered and I was planning on using that on holiday in a couple of weeks time, and Ihave to start looking up videos on YouTube for how to replace inner tubes so that I can use my road bike on the Sportive a week on Sunday…