Saturday, 9 July 2011

Not a good day for cycling....

I woke up at mum's. That was fine, although it was 6am, which meant I was up later than usual. Normally round at mum's you're awake and out of bed at around a quarter past five, the tea is downstairs and so are the foxes, waiting patiently for mum to throw them a few sausage rolls.

It was, of course, Saturday morning, but because Andy would be riding to the Cotswolds today, there was no great rush to get back home – but I still left at around 0630 and reached home around 7am. Note, by the way, the inconsistency of this post. I've used '6am', 'quarter past five' and 0630 – three different ways of writing the time. If this was a magazine article I'd have to make them all consistent, but it isn't, so I won't. Hold on a second while I nip into the kitchen to check on our dinner... can't beat purple brocolli with fish and spuds. Anyway, where was I? Ah! Yes. I reached home around 7am and of course the house was empty. I made a cup of tea and had a bit of fruit cake and then I made a flask of hot water, chucked a couple of teabags in my yellow cup and prepared to ride out to the Tatsfield Bus Stop alone. I had it all figured out: tea, a large slice of cake and a bit of solitude, a break from the fretting about money and not having any.

In the garage, a flat tyre greeted me. I had it last week and it was very slow. I remember Andy and I pumping it up and Andy saying I'd be able to get home on it; he was right, I did, but now the bike's been in the garage all week and it's flat. I could tell by the creases in the tyre. Not a problem. I'll quickly pump it up and be on my way.

It was good to be cycling up Church Way, heading for the churchyard and then the Limpsfield Road. I sailed through Sanderstead High Street, but as I left the village behind me and passed Majestic Wine, the bike wobbled. The tyre was deflating rapidly and I didn't have the motivation to up-end the bike and fix it, which in a way was lucky.

That sign across the road reads, "Feed Your Faith and Your Worries Will Starve to Death.
I turned around and began the walk back through the high street towards a pleasant green with a large pond known as the Gruffy. That name always reminds me of some crusty old Major with a nicotine-stained white moustache, a Harris Tweed jacket, thick cords and a walking stick.

The Gruffy would be a great destination for a cycle, except for the fact that it's only 10 minutes from where I live, but with that flask full of hot water, those two tea bags AND that large slice of cake, I figured a rest was in order and parked up on a bench dedicated to the memory of Douglas Martin, a lifelong resident of Sanderstead (1903 to 1995). I wonder if he had a nicotine-stained moustache and a walking stick? Probably not.
Douglas Martin's bench. He was 92 when he died.
I was a bit miffed about the puncture as it wasn't that long ago when I last had one, on Warlingham Green. And now, here I was again. I sat there for about 20 minutes, maybe longer, and then I walked down Church Way and home, which was still empty.

The view from Douglas Martin's bench.
And then the nightmare began. I got the bike home, turned it upside down and took off the rear wheel. So far, so good. In fact, it was all looking fine. I found the puncture, fixed it, put the inner tube back inside the tyre, put the wheel on the bike and started pumping. Suddenly, there was a loud hissing noise. Another puncture? Surely not? I must have over-pumped it or something. But no, it was hissing and going down fast.

I took out the inner tube, inflated it and then searched out the source of the hiss. It was another puncture – and quite a big one at that! It was like a very small tear, but I couldn't figure out how it had happened, so I checked out the tyre for stray thorns – there was nothing. I patched up the second puncture, put the wheel together, pumped it up – psssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst! It happened again! I dismantled the wheel again and noticed that the patch over the puncture had a similar rip in it.

Desperate measures – I pile patch upon patch.
This time I checked the wheel for any sharp, protruding bits of metal – there was nothing there. After scraping off the patch and putting on a new one, I pumped up the tyre and  – pssssssssssssssssssssssssssst! Not again! But yes, it had happened again. And it kept happening. In the end, after resorting to patching up the patches and still getting nowhere, I searched around for another inner tube and found one that appeared to be fine. I put it all together and there was no sign of any hissing. Fixed at last! But no! I left the bike in the garage, went shopping and on my return – the tyre was definitely flatter than when I'd left it.

Now it's definitely looking as if I won't be cycling anywhere tomorrow. To add insult to injury, one of my rear brake pads fell out and can I get it back in again? Of course not – the brakes are now totally non-existent at the rear – and I mean that: totally gone, as if the bike didn't have a rear brake. The only good thing is that I managed to clean the bike up a bit. I fear a trip to the cycle shop is on the cards, certainly before next week when Andy gets back.

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