In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Fancy Bikes and Earthquakes.

My bike’s in the kitchen again. And you can usually be sure that when my bike is doing kitchen duty Adi is not home. Adi doesn’t like sharing the kitchen with my treadle she tells me that it gets in the way. I can’t see that myself. Adi’s on her final trip to Christchurch concerning her knee and foot operations and I’m home alone. She is doing useful things preparing for the cycle tour of Asia such as getting vaccinations, easing her post op legs into cycling and putting together boring things like the first aid kit. I on the other hand am trying to get my head around how matronly my Mercian looks in the middle of winter when she is fully optioned with accessories. It does pain me to see my bike with all the gear on it and I do feel a little envious when I bump into a friend on the cycleway cuddling up to their stripped down Pinarello. Not that it takes much to strip down a Pinarello. You basically just have to take off the pump and spare tube and you’re there.
My Bike in the Way? I Don't Think So.

But I have to keep telling myself  that people with bikes like that either have a bike for every occasion ( which I have found in the past can get a little confusing, not to mention spending half your life cleaning them) or are more likely weekend warriors. So while Adi does things in the real world I am critically examining my bike and once again come to the same decision. And that is that during the winter I need all those accessories!

I cycled to work yesterday and it was pouring with rain (first rain for a while actually). For the 30km trip I had to endure headwinds and driving rain. Most people I presume would use car support in these situations but I’d rather shoot myself in the foot than use a mode of transport that I think only disabled people should be given a licence to drive (I know it is debateable  whether most car drivers are indeed disabled as a result of their habit). Because of the weather I not only needed my full mudguards but I also had to take my work clothes and lunch in a bag that would keep them dry. On top of all this since starting back at the bike shop I now take a thermos with coffee in it.

The reason I take coffee requires a separate paragraph.

 The reason being that this must be the only bike shop in the world where the staff seem to never drink coffee!! I don’t mind instant coffee . I’m not a coffee snob. I’ll take it anyway it comes as long as it’s coffee and has some sugar in it. And Mike and Yvonne have done their best to keep the sugar and coffee jar topped up for me. But I can never be sure the ingredients will be there when I turn up once or twice a week. I’m not a happy chappy without my morning and afternoon coffee break. When the shops busy and you have to dash upstairs for a quick one it also helps if the brew is already mixed and ready to go. So now I have to fit a thermos in my saddlebag. So if I had a stripped down bike I would need a courier bag on my back and would arrive at work covered in mucky road spray and complete with a wet crotch. And then on leaving work after a hard days graft what would I use for lights? Those little light weight pidley things you say. And I’d have to explain to you that once I leave the city limits and have to negotiate the 10kms I do into the countryside I would not be able to see where I was going. So there you go, a full time cyclist needs a bike that means business. I will continue to run a critical eye over my Mercian but it’s hard to improve on perfection. 

Perhaps the compass could come off? No I remember needing that in Santa Cruz earlier in the year.

Like most cyclists I have always got things in my head that I want but don’t need. My latest purchase was a Carradice saddle bag support and it’s awesome. Its awesomeness is off the charts and you hardly know it’s there. I really don’t know how Brooks can live with themselves by continuing to make saddlebags with no supports to offer to  their customers. The latest Brooks book for cyclists 2012 shows a lovely Mercian on page 77 ruined by an ill-fitting saddle bag. Come on Brooks tidy it up!

 So that’s something that I bought but did need. What I would like but don’t need is a set of Campag cyclocross canti brakes. I don’t need them because I have a set of XTR V brakes on my bike that I think are the best brakes ever made for simplicity versus stopping power. But I love Campag stuff and the canti brakes would fit right on so easily. What’s more I could fund this purchase by convincing Adi that her brakes are crap thereby graciously giving her my now no longer made XTR V brakes if she would let me order the little Italian babies.

However the chips were down the other day when Adi was complaining about her crappy brakes and I couldn’t part with my XTR’s. I thought those brakes have slowed me as I have careered off some of the highest mountains on earth. So I put sexy Italian stuff out of my head and took Adi’s bike down to the bike shed where I fixed her crappy brakes so that they will live to fight another day.

That’s about it for this week.

I could mention though the earthquake we had last week, since it’s the biggest we’ve had in the 20yrs Adi and I have lived here. Adi was in bed, the Mercian was hanging in the back room and I was dreaming while staring at the flames generated by our log burner. After the first jolt that had the old villa creaking I made a mental note should things get worse to save Adi first because I’ve got a spare Mercian frame in the bike shed and enough spare parts to recreate my M.U.M (Mercian Urban Machine).
The 'Ken Brown' Earthquake Monitor. Bolted to the Coal Range.

When the second shake hit I shouted to Adi to get out of bed and save herself and I headed for the back room. On passing the coal range our earthquake monitor shouted out loud and clear that it was a magnitude 1 KB. The first ball bearing had come out of its cradle and only 9 where left! The earthquake monitor designed and built by my late Dad had never worked before and was the joke of the Coventry-Brown household. I thought as I passed it on the way to save my bike” who’s joking now aye?” Luckily for Potters-end that was the end of it. No. 2 bearing didn’t shift and we were left with a couple of gently swaying lamp shades. Adi and Bob had gone back to sleep but I don’t think I’d want to be in the house when no. 3 bearing popped off the block. What were you thinking when you designed that Dad! Armageddon no doubt.

1 comment:

  1. Riding a bicycle as a part of your everyday life is a good and healthy habit. It is also practical and economical. It is also a nature loving way of travelling.