4 Punctures and a funeral

Today has been fruitlessly spent fixing punctures and pushing bikes, both with a hint of desperation and a whole lot of frustration. Luckily I have found someone to blame and you may be unsurprised to hear it is indeed Satan’s chariot; the folding bicycle. Voted Transport Icon by Lentil Eaters monthly, the obligatory beard and sandals failed to recognise his bottom feeding status in the commuting hierarchy, and brazenly attempted to best me off a green light.

Hello Mr Bull? Here’s your red rag; honestly let this kind of thing slide and before you can say fucking hell, all I can smell is burnt cheese and lifelong humiliation“, Segway’s, Zimmer Frames and idling tourists will count you amongst their victims. A man is hardly a man at all if he doesn’t made a stand so I stood on the pedals, metabolised a few litres of taxi filtered oxygen and stomped off in a complex mix of hubris and vainglory.

Throwing a glance over my shoulder, he was beyond toast and heading towards carbon at which exact point a pssssttt pissed on my bonfire and the bike took on the characteristics of a fridge lolling about on a roller skate. Somehow we careered to the safety of the curb where a brief examination of the front tyre highlighted the kind of low pressure that begets hurricanes. My stormy face gurned the diametric opposite of happy-clappy-scaffold-pole rider as he breezed past marking my location, so other denizens of Beelzebub could rock up and cackle at my predicament.

And what a predicament it was. Even with my painfully retarded approach to maintenance, tyre changing is just about within my chaotic remit. Except if the carefully stored tool kit, languishing unused in the inner recesses of the bag for more than a year ,failed to contain a tyre lever. Deep Rims, 70 PSI, Road tyres, Cack Handed sweating mechanic “ I’ll let you form your own conclusions on how the next ten minutes went, while instead describing the legions of fellow commuters who took a minute from their day to offer assistance to one of their own. De-dum, de-dum, de-dum, finished yet? I have, London weighting clearly states that regardless of your transport state, you must method act the fucktard at all times. No one even slowed down, except for the hated folders and they just slowed down to laugh. Next time I buy a bike, it’s coming with the optional missile pack.

Through the innovative use of a multi tool and the five worst swear words I’ve learnt, the tyre was finally wrenched from it’s rimmed prison, but not before I’d decapitated my pump handle and barely avoided the same fate for a less replaceable finger. Next came the Nitorgen gas canister which would have worked a whole shit load better had I not unscrewed the pump in the spirit of enquiry. Is it working? On receiving a face full of escaping gas at absolute zero which froze eyebrows and rendered remaining fingers useless, I’m giving that a strong yes. Sufficient stored puff remained to give the new tube a semblance of useable firmness, so after only about 20 minutes, much scarred knuckles and bloodied fingertips, all was well in my little world.

Well for all of about half a mile before, to my horror, rapid deflation of both the tyre and my mood ground us to a second embarrassing halt. This time I didn’t have a spare tube, but that’s ok, I didn’t have a spare gas canister either. So wheeled the now despised bike into the firm’s car park, spiking innocent pedestrians on bar ends and muttering extensively on the unfairness of life.

Through the power of cash machines and lunch hours, I restocked the tube and gas vault while totally failing to address the cause of the problem. Oh I had a good look round the tyre in the muggers light of the bike cage, and somehow convinced myself that it was merely a bad tube batch. The river of denial ran deep enough for a third tube stuffing to take place and aside from waving the lucky chicken over the errant rubber, that was as good as I came to a repair hypothesis.

On returning to the brooding steed at the dog end of office hours, we circled each other in a tense silence. Don’t fuck with me again, you only cost£200 and one more puncture’ll see you in the Serpentine my son“. The bike flicked a contemptuous mechanical ˜V’ by flattening my newly purchased tube half way up the car park ramp.

Sat down and had a little swear. Mosied back up to the 7th floor for reinforcements – pumps, more tubes and tyre levers. Spent a happy 30 minutes minutely examining the tyre for glass, thorns or Poseidon adventure folders armed with sharp knives. Found nothing, so in a fit of optimistic stupidly inserted the final tube which, once inflated, went through a thorough testing regime of being crashed into handy concrete obstacles and threatened with extreme violence.

That got me as far as Hyde Park. At which point, it was going dark and I was in real danger of collapsing spent at the epicentre of the Friday Night Dogging Set. A couple of folders swept innocently past but I know my enemy now and come the revolution they are not only in the book, but archived to microfiche. Once the courier bag has dispensed my used smalls across the cycletrack and blisters cheerfully bunioning every toe post the three mile SPD hike to the station, I was, to put it carefully, vexed.

And remained so for quite a while. Beer helped a little, but then it normally does.

Under proper lights, it became rapidly apparent that the rolling rubber was exhibiting splitter tactics with the bead, throwing off the imperialist shackles of the host tyre and heading south to the border. The reasons were complex but since I’ve already said too much, let me summarise thus: shitty cheap tyres and crappy sharp rims“. The rims are now fixed, powertools were involved.

So four punctures and a funeral. The funeral is for the bike. But not yet, revenge is a dish best served cold.

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