In terms of three great rides, three crushing disappointments and a third time lucky. And what relation does the image have to this gruesome threesome? Absolutely nothing other than I like it in a vanity publishing kind of manner. Taken by Simon on the Seb Rogers photo course. Even with his skills, my short legs, long arms, big arsed riding position puts one in mind of a balding orang-u-tang surprised by a bicycle.
It’s something I’ve been working on. Anyway enough of that and more of this. An appointment with a night of liver damage hurled me back smack bang, dead centre of the commuting rat race. Despite being twenty minutes late, the delayed train failed to collect its’ missing carriages, so depositing me betwixt a door sized suitcase and a women of similar volume. All of us pressed into the luggage racks because the upstream passengers had blockaded the normal seating areas and wore the determined expressions of those prepared to violently repel borders.
Time passed slowly as weapons grade body odour combined in a toxic mash-up slowly – but painfully – crisping my nasal nerve endings. The bump’n’grind of irritated people armed with sharp executive luggage forced me into displacement activity that referenced a certain ironic tautology. You see, I’ve been thinking, when people get really, really fat traditional measurements of weight lack a certain wow factor. 150 kilograms sounds like it might be a fair heft and yet a naval tweak could substitute a ship measuring Draft. “Yes she’s displacing about four fathoms unladen. Add the weight of lunch and you’ve got some tonnage there“. No one could read that without knowing for sure they were dealing with a proper fat bastard.
Squeezing out onto the platform before I could verbalise my contribution to the field of weights and measures, a small maintenance task stood between a non bikey me and the grimy den of the tunnel rat. This replacement of the frame based lock lost during “The Trafalgar Incident” should have taken two minutes. The reason that some twenty minutes I was left swearing at fifteen quid of broken tat is simply explained. The manufacturer slyly retains the name and description of a product while cheapening the manufacturing process by a factor of about 3. The lock casing had already broken on a first release before a second attempt snapped off the plastic key. The “one size fits all” frame mount combined a cheap plastic shell with a rough machined rotating spindle. I think you can probably guess what happened next.
A slight modification of the useless mounting system saw more and more fixing cable trapped inside the housing. Just at the point it may have gripped the frame tube, the whole thing exploded, showering innocent commuters with plastic shrapnel. By this time, the bike was at the epicentre of a multi-tool wielding lunatic, swearing at the greed of product managers and dispatching the ruined remains of this plastic shit to four corners of the platform. I was lucky not to be shot by the trigger happy police on patrol.
Because no day can pass without an extra special disappointment, a stapled note demanded re-registration of the bike because “the bike racks are overcrowded because of the number of abandoned cycles“. This is the kind of twisted logic which explains “the train is overcrowded this morning because we have too many passengers for the carriages”. As if in some deranged schism of reality , THIS IS OUR FAULT. The racks ARE overcrowded because – and I know this is hard for Chiltern Railways to understand – because there are NOT ENOUGH OF THEM. Really, that’s it. Invest the officious record collecting effort into a few more stands. How can anyone be that impossibly dim?
So after a cattle based travel experience, an unsuccessful wrestle with the cheapest shit ever made by man and, prolonged exposure to an organisation that would much rather passengers bought a ticket but didn’t bother turning up, I was grumpily dispatched to the fetid underworld of the tube.
The experience was – possibly – even worse than the last time being squeezed and randomly assaulted formed part of my travel plans. In fact, so disgusting and dirty was it down there, my return trip was taken by shoe. Four miles, three parks, one hour – nowhere near as good as a bike but several million percent better than the pit of doom.
And although significant beer did form a major part of an increasingly blurry evening, I triumphantly avoided the de-rigour masturbationary train wreck that is the East London strip club. It has not always been thus. It seems, in a week of threes, I’ve learned that commuting without bikes is bad, large corporations care only for profit not customers and, paying a tenner for some bored modelling failure to wave her tits in your face is really not for me.
Stuff then, that I actually already know. Age does not bring wisdom, it merely reinforces your preconceptions.