You’ve heard the expression "the wheels fell off", well, that’s kind of what happened to my bike this morning.
My commute was going beautifully, but about a mile in I noticed that the rear of the bike didn’t feel quite right. Perhaps a puncture? Or a problem with my brake?
I stopped and checked. No puncture. Brake okay.
Another 200 metres along and it was impossible to pedal, almost as if someone was holding the rear wheel and dragging me backwards.
I stopped, got off and wheeled my bike into a quiet side street. I took a closer look at the back wheel. Something was obviously loose or broken because I could wobble it from side to side by about an inch. Not good. In fact, I think the technical term is fucked. There was no way I could fix it, and no way I could continue riding it. My only option was to walk it home, the wonky wheel screeching all the way!
Which I did. In the rain. And then, once I’d parked it up and got changed into my work clothes, I had to catch the tube into the office. No rest for the wicked and all that.
Ironically, I only rediscovered the receipt — dated April 4, 2000 — for my UK-made Falcon Adventurer mountain bike a few weeks back. It was languishing at the bottom of a drawer. I had a good laugh at the price: £149. I figured it didn’t really owe me much.
Since I’ve begun commuting I’ve spent the grand sum of about £80 on it, updating my tyres to (pretty much puncture-proof) Marathon Schwalbe hybrids, buying a couple of inner tubes and replacing a set of worn out brake pads. Not bad, when you consider it costs me more than that each month to ride the London Underground.
But this morning’s incident has made me reassess my options. Do I get the wheel fixed, or do I simply bite the bullet and buy a better bike, preferably a hybrid that has gears that are worth using? (My current gears are next to useless: I must be the only commuter who cycles across London without changing gear!)
So I did a bit of poking around the Evans Cycles’ website today and found a bike I would very much like. Unfortunately, because it’s a 2006 model it can only be purchased on the internet, and not the store (I rang and checked), which is a major turn-off for me, simply because getting things delivered is a pain in the arse. Plus, I think it’s important to try a bike first, to make sure it "fits" and I’m comfortable with it.
After work I called into the Evans store at Waterloo and saw another bike I wouldn’t mind, so I guess I need to make up my mind quick smart. Do I risk the internet purchase, or buy a 2007 model from a store?
In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to come to terms with not having
this little baby (see above) as my trusty and usually reliable treadly. RIP, my little Falcon Adventurer!