30 Days of Biking #20 – This piggy rode to market

photo of my poorly pannier with makeshift fixes

I can do things neatly. I just rarely choose to.

Today’s biking was a bit of a mission. As I mentioned yesterday, my car is out of action, having failed its MOT earlier this week. I guess I could have gone to market by train and foot, but that would have been a missed opportunity for a fun blog post, right?

Poorly pannier In another post, I said that I couldn’t do a big shop by bike because of the state of my panniers, particularly the left one. Aside from packing a handful of bungee cords and putting my small rucksack into a big one, I made some makeshift repairs to the poorly pannier using DIY staples and gaffer tape.

Harnachée Rain was forecast and the light was low so out came the waterproofs and hi-vis, bleargh. Cumbersome and just not my style (especially since I bought those trousers to fit me when I was 14 kilos heavier).

Four Scary roads I was rushing to hopefully avoid the rain so did not do much route planning, instead going pretty much the way I’d drive. This meant braving Lawrence Hill Roundabout again (less scary the second time round) and ticking another box – riding along 50 mph St Philips Causeway. As I was going to meet a friend who lives near the market first, I  also rode along the Bath Road past Paintworks (it has one of those delightful cycle lanes you can’t ride in because it borders endless parked cars, and being a nice, wide, straight stretch seems to induce most drivers to think the 30 mph residential limit does not apply). My friend lives off the Wells Road, so rather than go round like I’d have to in a car, I thought I’d cut through up the hill, pushing the bike up the steepest part. Not a good move – Bathwell Road is practically vertical. It being earlyish on a bank holiday Sunday, the roads were pretty quiet. This made things easier in some ways (eg changing lanes), but also made roundabouts feel more dangerous due to the possibility of drivers speeding around thinking the coast was clear and not seeing me round the bend until it was too late. Will go a different way in future I think.

Socialising with pedestrians While going back down through Arnos Vale Cemetery with my non-cycling friend, I had a go at riding along, which was good practice for balancing at low speeds but not always practical (difficult to go slow enough downhill and not to go into lampposts on narrower pavements, where I probably shouldn’t have been riding on anyway – bad cyclist! I blame the Bath Road’s strange reality-distorting powers, see above).

two people and a bike with a box tied to its pannier rack

Temp friend, old friend, wheeled friend and something like 27 yellow bell peppers in a box

An offer I could not refuse I was always likely to get less loot than usual due to no car, and there was considerably less on offer than usual (this happens on rainy days). However, because I had picked up a bowl of 5 bell peppers for £1, the market guys asked whether I’d fancy a whole box of them for £2. Only yellow ones (my favourites). After some uhming and ahing, I yielded to the bargainousness and the challenge of carrying the box on my bike. It was helpful having someone there to hold things (e.g.the bike) for me as I inexpertly tethered the box to my pannier rack (though I felt guilty as it must have been quite tedious from her end), and a veteran cyclist stopped to observe and give advice (unanimity on the need for a third bungee cord).

Wetness The rain started as I was about a quarter of the way home. While it wasn’t the most pleasant thing (cold and making me wary of slipping), the waterproofs did their job, including the sun visor, which kept my specs bone dry! I think it was the first time I’d used it in proper, heavyish rain.

Conclusion It was good to have the cycling option available in the absence of the usual car one, and I may do this again, but as there was an inordinate amount of faff, limitations and extra hazards involved, driving remains my favourite option for this particular job. At least until I can afford a trailer for the bike.

photo of part of my face with wet sun visor under cycling helmet and dry specs

SunRain Visor Win

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