30 Days of Biking #2

Made it home in one piece. This in spite of my first day back in the saddle for over two months going a bit like I hear birthing plans do. Ideally I would have liked to ease myself back into cycling on a familiar, flat route, with all the appropriate gear, on a fully functional machine freshly audited (for free) by some incarnation of Bristol’s ubiquitous Dr Bike.

At least it wasn’t dark or pouring with rain when I hurtled down Ashley Hill with an X-large rucksack on my back, no helmet on and vast amounts of distrust in my vehicle, myself and every little bump in the road.

I had started off pushing the thing onto a train in the morning with a view to getting its non-functioning front brake fixed after work. Not knowing whether I would get instant gratification, I elected not to weigh myself down with bike-specific gear. Superstition maybe – Sod’s Law often prevails and I didn’t fancy walking home carrying my helmet and awkward panniers.

Poorly bike on commuter train

Bad, bad commuter… My excuse: bike is disabled today.

Walked it to the Bike Project after work, where one of the nice young men who work there was immediately able to tell me there wasn’t in fact anything missing. Could have easily made me feel bad about my ignorance/jumping to conclusions (I did anyway) but was very kind about it and put everything back where it needed to be, including my front wheel which I’d put back on wrong (at least I contributed this diagnosis as he told me my brakes weren’t aligned properly, which they definitely had been before I took the wheel off).

He also inflated my once-more floppy front tyre for me, confirming that since I had done so very recently, there must in fact be a puncture I somehow missed when I methodically rotated the inner tube through a bucket of water on Monday hoping to see tell-tale bubbles. Therefore homework is daily inflation until Monday, when I will make one last attempt at finding a hole before forking out £6 for a new tube.

So, I was able to (very gingerly) ride home, but not directly as I wanted to drop off a friend’s birthday present in St Andrew’s – hence the vertiginous downhill bit, which followed a few wrong turns (who knows why, as I’ve driven there and back a million times) and a trip up scary Gloucester Road in and out of the rush hour pack of Cyclists With All The Gear ™. Probably best that my first attempt at using Strava was unsuccessful (I didn’t know I had to press the red button) as the route would have looked quite silly, going past the bottom of St Andrew’s Park, then back and through it pushing the bike up, then the wrong way down Somerville Road before resorting to Google Maps.

Somewhere in there, I came a cat’s whisker-close to doing the very same thing that had put me out of pedalling action since 21 January, namely attempting to ride onto a lowered bit of pavement at an acute angle. Really must take it slow and keep my brain switched on.

Low pavement

My nemesis

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