26 October 2008

Like getting my hair cut

It's one of those things - you know it's going to happen, but you are too busy, so you put it off until an event triggers the inevitable.

Let's face it: I am not very good at maintaining my bike. I clean it every now and then - far less often than I really should. I lubricate what is visible, but the invisible stuff I just daren't tamper with. And twice a year I take it to be serviced, placing it in the hands of competent bike mechanics in the hope they'll be able to undo months of neglect.

Well, next week I shall be doing just that. Yesterday as I hurried home to prepare for the weekend (it's half-term this week, we are visiting my father-in-law) I noticed my wheel has buckled a bit - it is wobbling and needs attention. Just over a year ago I was having to get the wheel trued as spokes kept breaking. A new wheel put that right and I hadn't had any trouble... until now. It cost me 50% of the original bike value (it's a cheap one).

Then, back in April this year, as I prepared for the Coast to Coast, the service had to include a complete replacement of the chain, chainrings, cassette, the works. It cost me as much as I'd paid for the original bike - and it really felt like new.

Anyway, this wednesday I shall be making my way to the shop again, getting the bike ready for the winter.

22 October 2008


Found: an ageing red bike light, conventional bulb (not LED). At junction of Trinity Way/Newbridge St/A6042, and Great Ducie St (aka A56) - just outside the old brewery that's now the biggest open-air car park in the city centre. You know, opposite the back of the MEN Arena.

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There was I, at the traffic lights, a miserable morning as miserable as they come, rain and low temperatures, fingers numb, feet soaked in shoes I must soon change - you know the score, I've moaned about it before. But the discovery of this light cheered me up a bit - something for nothing! Unless it belongs to you, reader, in which case do feel free to reclaim it (you just have to tell me what colour and shape the casing is).

14 October 2008

A somber occasion

Another case of harassment in the city centre. This one a little bit more serious, though I escaped with no more than wounded pride. I was turning right into Shudehill when a teenager in one of those silly little bikes jumped the pedestrian lights just before the bus station, nearly made me fall and shouted some passing obscenity, to which I simply replied 'What?'.

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That was it. For one of these little thugs spoiling for a fight, that was enough pretext to chase me to the next set of traffic lights. I saw him coming but my reaction was not to run away. The pillock got to me. I got down from the bike and placed it between me and him. I wanted to avoid a fight - all the self-defense books will tell you that is the best course of action, especially with a teenager as (a) they may be carrying a knife and (b) even if you prevail, their under-age status will make things difficult for you. So, I went by the book - open hands in front, conciliatory language, stand your ground. The whole thing was over in the time it took for the lights to change to green - the teenager left muttering further abuse, and I was left, shaken - but free to continue my journey.

On the plus side, the incident put a spring in my step, so to speak - I did good time, uphill to my home. On the other hand, I am annoyed, angry, pissed off. Part of me knows I did the right thing - but the other half feels it was unfair, that a little shit got away with it, will be bragging to his lumpen, redneck friends about how he managed to 'scare' a grown man.

Either way, I will be looking over my shoulder for a while. Perhaps I should vary my route out of the city centre - or perhaps I should say 'bollocks' to it and stick to my guns? For to give in to fear is to lose twice.

06 October 2008

A joyous occasion

A fire alarm: what a joyous occasion! At least if it happens when the skies are blue, on a crisp October morning, as the working week begins. And it's a false alarm, the only casualties the timetables dreamed up by bosses and supervisors.

I pass one such building this morning. Employees in cheap suits and Primark skirts file out, merry in conversation, some lighting up a fag as soon as they can see no roof over their heads. Some have coffee paper cups in their hands. Colleagues who were rushing in, thinking they'd be late, slow down and smile as fate, this time, plays them a good card with which to start the day.

03 October 2008

Two pillocks in a little white car...

Not a good journey yesterday. It began sunny, then turned to heavy rain. A woman looking very distressed running after a little dog (hers, I assumed) who runs onto the road and nearly ends up under the wheels of a car - the lady shouting 'someone, catch him!' with pleading eyes. And two pillocks in a little white car (Reg. P??? TGP, white 3-dr Corsa) drive north-bound on Bury Old RdCheetham Hill Rd/A665, invading the bus lane, on a harassement spree - making obscene gestures to passers by, and nearly knocking me off the bike as they rashly overtake me in a corner (except that my 6th sense picked them up just in time).

To be continued?

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01 October 2008

The lady vanishes...

If I leave work at 5pm, I have a 9 in 10 chance of crossing paths with 'the lady'. She must be 'from the continent' - Dutch or German, I wonder?.

She cycles a city-style, proper ladies bike - it used to be a creamy white one, now I've noticed she's upgraded to a black one (or did the other one get nicked?).

She wears no special cycling gear, no helmet. Leather shoes, cords, a quilted coat. I think when it rains she wears a raincoat of some sort. No rush, no silly manouvres around traffic. Down the road she goes, towards Town.