I was off under clear skies and after the first couple of km found my legs. Its easier to get a rhythm going when the sun’s smiling on me on a still morning. Or even better, a tailwind. This morning it was just still and quiet. I turned off the road onto a bridleway, down a trail used by the farmers tractor and then up a tractor worn trail, the clay soil rutted solid with thick, grooved tyre tracks. Bumpy and bouncy.
And then crunch! and stop. My chain had slipped between two cogs on my rear cassette and was taking me no further on my epic journey. I wedged it out and pedalled the chain with the bike upside down. The wheel was not spinning true, catching on something. After a closer look, I found that all of the cogs were loose making the chain slip off and the outside of the smallest cog rubbing against the axle fitting. Bugger! It was time to weigh things up. I was 1/3 of the way in so could spin my way in to Harlow to see Dave at Lee Valley Cycles and then walk the rest of the way to work if I needed to leave my bike there. Risky I thought as had never experienced this before and was weary of the cassette falling apart and having to walk further.
So I turned around, put the chain onto a high gear where the hub wasn’t rubbing as much and rode 6km back home very slowly praying to the patron Saint of bicycles that I could get home in one piece. More importantly so that my rear cassette made it back in one piece. Both of us made it back without any further drama and after packing the bike in the back of the van, I drove to work for the first time in weeks.
In fact, while listening to the radio on potential lock down exit strategies from a Professor of economics, a teacher and a celebrity doctor, I counted on 3 fingers the number of times that I had driven a vehicle over the last month. Is it wrong to say that I am enjoying (even thriving) under the circumstances that the C word has put us in? Keep dreaming experts, from where I see things (and believe me, I’m seeing things at the sharp end right now), with nearly 1000 people dying every day, I can’t see us being let out for at least another 3 weeks.
Daves assessment at the LBS was incredulous. “It shouldn’t do that! How many miles have you done on it since I fitted it?”
Me: “um about 2000km which is roughly 1200 miles”
Dave: “Nah, dunno what could’ve happened there then. I’ll tighten it and have look… Your free hub is a bit loose, look see? But that shouldn’t have caused it. You’ll need a new hub anyway because that will only get worse but I’ll have to order one in. I’ll call you when it arrives, Monday, earliest but with deliveries at the moment who knows? “
He’s not charging labour on NHS staff bike repair so my visit didn’t cost a bean and I was in and out in 10 minutes. Now that’s service, an exemplar for why you should go to your LBS. We got talking about business. It crazy for him right now, everyone seems to “want to take up riding again” but after months of inactivity their bikes need fixing so on any one day at the moment, he has 20 bikes in the workshop and is doing 4-5 a day, working to 10 pm most nights. He assured me that now that the cassette was tightened and put right, it was OK to ride but listen for any grinding and check the cogs regularly just in case. I planned a route home from work, leaving the van and driving home tomorrow.
After another busy day teaching, this time on the wards, my planned stop at the pub for an IPA take out before 5.30 was scuttled for the second day running. So I drove home late with firm plans to ride tomorrow on fresh legs. And to escape early via the Queens Head for a take out…
Total UK deaths: 13, 729 (861)