. . . . is, well, a tube, or a tyre anyway. Yes, I boarded the London Underground tonight wearing two Marathon bike tyres slung seductively over my shoulder. And yes, half of London looked at me as if to say WE LIKED IT BETTER WHEN YOU HAD THE BIKE. "Well," I wanted to say, "I liked it better when I had the bike too, especially when I was riding it out on the road with the wind in my hair and the rain in my face." But of course I said nothing, buried my face in a book and tried to ignore the bug-eyed stares. Although, who knows, maybe I’ve started a new fashion trend and women everywhere will start adorning themselves in racing slicks with or without fluorescent smart guard rims…
This was supposed to be a post about how I am back commuting on my bicycle after a brief respite and how wonderful it feels to start regaining my fitness but instead it’s going to turn into a rant about what it’s like to find that the bike you left locked to a railing near your office after a pleasant morning’s cycle has a flat tyre when you return to it after a hard day at work and how you panic about trying to figure out how to get home because you can’t bloody repair the puncture because you don’t have any tools or any repair kits and even if you did you wouldn’t know how to use one so instead you ring up your Other Half and have a right long rant about not knowing what to do and turning down all requests for him to come meet you in 90 minutes with said repair kit and then finding yourself walking to a tube station through throngs and throngs of dozy go-slow tourists wearing full cycling kit – ooh, laa, laa – while wheeling a dud bicycle making a funny noise because its back tyre is flat and having to sweet talk a London Underground staff member into letting you take your bike on the District Line even though it is 5.45pm and bikes aren’t allowed on the underground during peak hours and then having to squeeze onto a train carriage with half of London STARING at you because they’ve either never seen a bicycle before or they have never seen such an alluring woman wearing such alluring waterproof trousers with such an alluring GLOW IN THE DARK bright yellow cycling jacket and of then having to hold onto the bike with an iron-like grip to prevent it escaping with each lurch of the train wherein it might wipe out half of the BUG-EYED commuters who CANNOT STOP STARING at you and of then getting off at the end of your journey and lugging your bike up some very steep stairs and then having to wait FOREVER for another London Underground staff member to let you through the exit barrier even though – yes, you KNOW! – bicycles shouldn’t be taken on the tube at peak hours and of then escaping and finally getting in the front door feeling much more exhausted than you would have had you actually cycled the bloody thing all the way home. Tomorrow I think I’ll just catch the tube – without toting a mountain bike.
For the first time in about 12 working days I caught the tube to work yesterday.
It felt weird to be travelling in a confined space beneath London’s streets when I’ve spent the past month doing it on the back of a bike with the wind in my hair and the sun shining into my eyes.
It’s going to sound strange, but the first thing I noticed was the fashions worn by my fellow commuters. When did high-necked shirts with frills (like the ones Lady Diana Spencer used to wear before she married Prince Charles) become trendy again? It seemed like every second woman was wearing one.
And military-style jackets with double rows of brass buttons are obviously the latest must-have fashion item, too, but only if you’re female.
It was a bit like entering a time warp (hello 1980s!). Either that or I have been wearing bike shorts and high-visibility waterproof clothing for far too long…