Fell off again

Last Wednesday evening as the rain poured down I pulled up my waterproof trousers and turned on my bike lights. It was a grim night to set off into, but I normally do the short ride down to Christ Church in about 7minutes (9 if the wind is against me), so I knew I would be back into the warm again soon.

Alas, it was not to be so.

Even though I took the route I cycle almost every day (often twice a day) the rain and darkness was plenty enough to mean that I didn’t spot a pothole that I must have seen (and carefully cycled around) tens – hundreds – of times. Pulling quickly away at a traffic light junction (because the junction is wide and uphill so it can be a challenge to get across before the lights change again) I suddenly felt the whole world lurch. The bike went one way, I went the other, and we both skidded out over the tarmac.

Image care of https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46444109

Thankfully it wasn’t busy – no queue of traffic rushing towards me from the other lane. The car behind me (thankfully turning the other way) stopped to check that I was alright – “Yes, fine thanks. Just bruised pride.” [and a bruised hip too, as I found out when I tried to lay on my left side later that night – and every night since!]

I picked my bike up and walked over to the pavement. In the glow of the nearest streetlight I could see that the thumb shift lever on my gears had popped open – something that has been a recurring fault for a couple of months now. On previous times I had managed to pop it back together ok, using my keys as make shift screwdrivers and applying a bit of force. After 15 frustrating minutes of poking, prodding, pulling and pushing I admitted defeat – this was not something I could fix by the roadside. In the dark. In the rain.

It used to look like this… Not any more!

Now late for the meeting I had been on my way to anyway, I limped the bike back to our garage. A quick text to my colleagues to send my apologies, and then a proper look at the thumb shift lever in the more reliable light (and dry) of my garage. I quickly realised that a small piece of the mechanism had snapped off. Bums. One knock too many, this fall had finally done for it. My bike was going to be stuck in top gear until I could get it replaced.

I’m grateful that there wasn’t more damage – to me or to the bike. Skittering out across a main road intersection could have ended much worse! But when my bike is my main transport it is very inconvenient not to have it in good working order. Thankfully there are a couple of good bike shops in town. I managed to drop my bike in at The Bike Shop the next day, and Dave did a great job at fixing it up – 24 hours later, and only £15, I was back on the road and flying again 🙂

So, just a short grumble about potholes – jumping on the Rod Stewart bandwagon! But according to Cycling UK I am far from the only cyclist to fall foul of a pothole. They say:

findings confirm that while potholes can be an inconvenience for motorists, they are more likely to cause injury, and even death, for cyclists.

https://www.cyclinguk.org/press-release/potholes-true-cost-cyclists

I mostly love getting around car-free, but every now and then it hits home that cycling is definitely a more vulnerable way to travel, and that other road users and even the roads themselves aren’t always that hospitable. Our road network would be much friendlier and healthier for everyone if there were fewer cars on it. Just saying…

Published by oikoslife

I am married, father of 2 young children (2014 and 2017), pioneering priest in the Church of England, surfer, climate activist and much more. Born in Yorkshire, and currently living on the Yorkshire Coast. Doing my best to live in good connection with God, self, neighbour and creation - working it out as I go.

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