Wednesday 22 February 2012

The One Percent

I absolutely love cycling.

99% of the time cycling is a joy. Even when the weather is poor, it can be great fun. The last two days have unfortunately been part of the 1%.

There I was yesterday happily cycling along on my way to work, enjoying a typical commute in, when something started happening with the bike. Every so often it would feel like the chain was slipping. Was a link sticking? Had some muck started interfering with the chain? It would have to wait as I was riding on a busy dual carriageway with no paving at the side.

I stopped at some lights on the up-slope of a hill, and had a quick look down at the chain. I couldn't see anything obvious. Before I had a chance to look any further the lights had changed, and having traffic and another cyclist behind me I felt compelled to pull away from the lights as normal. Off I went standing on the pedals to gain some momentum. 10 metres later and I felt the first CRUNCH.

Oh dear. That didn't feel good. CRUNCH, CRUNCH, CRRRRRRUNCH!

I came to an abrupt halt. Luckily the traffic and cyclist behind me were all behaving nicely and paying attention and managed to avoid running over me.. In fact the cyclist seemed to be paying a lot of attention to my rear wheel. He looked up at me with an 'oooh, your bike's a bit messed up' sort of grimace.

I managed to hobble over to the side of the road (still no path, just a ledge next to a stone wall) and take a look. Yes indeed, my chain (front to back connecty thingy) had snapped. Unfortunately my chain had decided that it wanted to go out with a bang and take some other parts of my bike with it. My rear dérailleur (gear changey thingy) had been ripped apart, the gear hanger (gear changey thingy, attachment thingy) was badly bent, and the gear cable (gear changey thingy, pully thingy) along with the derailleur was wrapped around the rear wheel (spinny thingy that turns at a speed depending on how much the pully thingy, is pulling the gear changey thingy and how much force my legs are putting through the front to back connecty thingy).

In technical terms my bike was fecked.

Umm, err, this is supposed to be attached to my bike, isn't it?

The other cyclist did offer some sympathy and a lock, if I needed to leave my bike nearby, but there was little that anyone could really do. I found my way to a safe spot and removed the main damage. With all the main damage removed, I effectively had a  a scoot bike. This was where my luck turned....a little. There was a taxi rank about a mile away and it was pretty much all downhill to the taxi rank in Anniesland. So off I scooted. I should point out that I scooted on the pavement. technically speaking I wasn't cycling as I didn't actually have a whole bike.

Maybe I can just glue it back on...

Upon reaching the taxi rank, the taxi driver was happy to take me on to work. Mind you,  he didn't really want to chat. I'm not sure he liked cyclists......especially ones with cameras on their helmets.

So today, having left my bike at work (and got a lift home from my dearest wife the day before) I decided to take my winterised bike in today. It's a beast of a hybrid with winter spike tyres. Not a great fact, a damn hard ride, but it would still be more fun than the car. So the lights were transferred and off I toddled to work. The headwind and the spikes made it hard work. Mind you, even HGVs approaching roundabouts at speed would have been able to hear me coming. Mmm, a new safety feature perhaps?

It was a few miles into my commute when I realised that I hadn't brought any replecement tubes for this bike. Not a problem, thinks I, I have a puncture repair kit. Mind you, what use would a puncture repair kit be? I'd also forgot to bring the appropriate pump. Oops! No problem, the chances of a puncture are very remote.....

It wasn't too far into the urban part of my commute when I noticed that the cycling was getting hard. That's strange... The back end of the bike was also starting to feel extra bouncy. Even stranger....

Yes, you guessed it, the puncture fairy had paid a visit. Poooh....or words to that effect.
Scooting was out of the question this time. Scooting on a flat tyre has a tendancy to rip apart tyres, especially expensive winter stud tyres. So I started that walk that every cyclist dreads....tthe 'Look at me, I've got a flat tyre and no way of fixing it walk'. I held my head in shame. Of course this walk can only be conducted properly when all taxis in the area have been informed to stay away from the cyclist. There must be no easy escape from the walk. So I set off for the Two mile trudge in the wind and rain (in my face of course) for the taxi rank I caught the taxi at the day before. Two miles is the minimum acceptable distance for the walk of shame.

Two consecutive days cycle commuting. Two different bikes. Two different 'mechanical failures. Two Taxi rides.  Never in the six years of cycle commuting had I had to end a ride and take a taxi, end yet two days on the trot that is what happened.

I hear things tend to come in threes......


  1. Taxi? I take it then that you guys don't have rack 'n roll (hip street term for bike racks) on your buses. You guys should get rack 'n roll on your buses, it's perfect for when that happens. Actually, did a bit of google, looks like it's a north american thing:

  2. Chain tool and turn it into a single speed. Never leave home without one, wrecked dérailleurs do happen.


  3. Rumour has it that bike racks on buses are coming to Scotland, but then again, Glasgow is likely to be one of the last places for them to be deployed...

  4. I can't think of anywhere in the UK that has bike racks on buses. Always admired them on trips to USA and Switzerland.

    We've all done the walk of shame. Too cold or too wet or too dark or too not having the right tools to fix the puncture.

  5. ooh, ouch. I'm glad to see your grasp of technical terms exceeds mine though...

    Down here in Dumfries & Galloway we've got one bus that takes bikes, allegedly, though not on a rack. You're supposed to ring up on the day of travel to make sure that the right bus is running. It's not exactly hop on hop off...

  6. I feel your pain. FWIW I've had to do the walk of shame also, except I had about 4-5 miles to cover and was just the wrong side of the highest point in London...which I of course had to walk over dragging my sickly bike......

    1 morning I also managed to puncture both tyres. Not a problem when you carry 2 inner tubes but not very useful when you rip the valve off one as you blow it up. The only saving grace was that the puncture on the rear was VERY easy to spot so I didn't need to completely remove the inner from tyre to patch it (important lesson ALWAYS have a backup plan!)

    Yes days like this are shit, but I tend to try and look at them as "character building" ;-)

  7. Was it even the same taxi driver? :-D