The only real constant in my endless quest for a settled shed of dreams – other than the rubbish rider of course – has been the trusty bike trailer. Bought about 2006 and ritually abused ever since. Living outside in all conditions, heated under the odd baking sky, rained on far more frequently, often covered in sleet and snow and bounced onto the tow bar at least twice a week.
Blameless it was. And now it’s dead. Or close to dead – the bent and twisted remains shall be reverently placed on Thor’s Anvil* tomorrow while the guilty watch on shuffle-footed, expecting the worse: ‘Sorry, we did all we could be it was too far gone. Might be worth a tenner in scrap value’.
It deserved better. Coming clean, the enumeration of smashing it into other innocent stuff is greater than one. At least two further incidents need to be accounted for; firstly backing it into a wall that was essentially the same colour as the road, just more vertical. Could have happened to anyone. An excuse which entirely fails to cover the other incident where extreme rammage** was inflicted on a grassy knoll which had a similar mythical status of that one in Dallas.
Which may explain why the electrics slid into a deranged mental state – sort of working just not in response to any driver input. And somewhat undermining the extremely German sliding arrangement providing tailgate access by dropping the bikes backwards. This fiendish feature was traditionally operated through a number of safety mechanisms nicked from a nuclear arming protocol. Once I’d smacked it around a bit, the disturbing site of a few thousand pounds of mountain bikes disappearing out of the rear view mirror became a terrifyingly frequent occurrence.
And then being a mechanical savage, I broke the similarly superbly engineered fixing attachment while testing it with a new tow bar. If sufficient violence hadn’t been wreaked on its bent frame by this time, there was still time to break a key in one of the be holding arms requiring amputation of important components, and a desperate plea to the manufacturer for some new bits.
It was in this happy state we dropped 50kg+ of expensive mountain bikes onto the remains and motored down to the alps. A journey of some 800 kilometres – most of which I spent pathologically staring out of the rear window, wondering if I should have mentioned the trailer’s party trick of disgorging its contents onto the road once the trigger speed past 80.
So yesterday, the manual over-ride hitch was carefully negotiated with the post attachment obligatory finger count passing muster. The bike was dropped into the middle carrier and strapped down like so many times before. But something was different. Normally Carol parks her car next to mine – today it was mostly abandoned near the front door. A small detail I probably should have noticed.
Because you see that’s EXACTLY the space generally used to back out of the drive. Not that I’m blaming Carol is any way – although her Honda is quite small, it’d be a bit of a stretch to maintain a line suggesting ‘well how was I meant to see it? It’s only about ten feet long, 3 feet wide and bright red?”. Traditionally one would discover such a thing by examining the lack of drivable space in the rear view mirror
But I wasn’t looking in the rear view mirror. Oh no I was looking out of the side window so I didn’t hit the fence. Which is another innocent party that’s avoided bumper swipe-age by about 2 microns over the years. The parking sensors always save you of course – you know the things you scoff at when the Car Salesmen extolls their virtues and he is rebuffed with a ‘I am a MAN, I am genetically engineered to park, go and talk to someone without a willy if you wish to flog that benefit’.
Something everyone should know. They don’t work well through a trailer. The first proximity inkling of which you are aware is an expensive thumping noise and some lightweight deceleration trauma. Followed by another sound, this time from the driver: ‘oh for fucks sake‘. Engage first gear, roll forward, open door, tread carefully over broken plastic recently attached to a much loved trailer.
We thought Carol’s car was fine until a hairline crack in the bumper triggered a chain reaction of broken stuff ending somewhere in the boot. The garage had to get the extra wide calculator out which had me reaching for the insurance details and waving a sad goodbye my no claims bonus. The very helpful man in the call centre was most apologetic that ‘no, I’m sorry sir the trailer isn’t covered‘ whilst quietly miming ‘you total numpty‘ I’m sure.
Carol was significantly more sanguine on the whole assault and battery of her car than I’d have been had the circumstances been reversed. A few hours later a bloke in a BMW soft roader thing nearly totalled me in Ledbury which – given this stuff tends to come in threes – suggests the poor old Yeti is soon to be found under a local tractor.
So the trailer is mostly buggered. It’s put in an excellent shift and suffered much abuse and neglect. If it was a dog, the RSPCA would’ve been round a long time ago. And however great it was for bike transportation, it makes a bloody useless battering ram. Having said all that, if its final act was to protect my bike and my car – both of which received not a scratch – while sacrificing itself, the ending has not been in vain.
And I shall buy another one of the same brand. Assuming it comes with parking sensors. Or a chauffeur.
* My mate Matt who is a hammer champion. He owned a Landrover once so has all the tools required to fix that engineering masterpiece. Lump hammers in eight different sizes.
** I believe this means something different to those apparently misunderstood sheep fanciers we get a lot of around here.