Day 3 of the tube strike…

… and I headed out very late on the bike — 8.30am instead of my usual 7.45am — and found the roads surprisingly bicycle-free. But by god, there was an extraordinary number of buses about. I can handle one or two buses at a time, but when you get queues of them — I’m taking three or four or five or more — it’s a nightmare: too dangerous to undertake (and, in any case, illegal if they are at a bus stop) and too dangerous to overtake because if they indicate they’re going to pull out into the next lane you are obliged to give way and half the time they don’t even know you are there.

But I digress. I got to Southwark at 9.15am and took my bike straight to the repair shop to get my gears fixed. The same kind chap who put my chain on last night was there and he promised me the bike would be ready to collect when I finished work.

At about 5.20pm I picked it up.

He was very up front with me and told me something I’d long known: my gears are “rough” because they’ve never been mounted properly and the alignment is wrong. I told him the lower gears have been a bit funny ever since I bought the bike, but it didn’t particularly bother me because I don’t use them. London’s flat, after all, so I only use about three gears in total.

He said he had them working okay, but the bike would need a full service and new cables at some point. I wondered if he was just touting for business, but he was not the least bit pushy and left it in my hands. Anyone else would have opened the diary and had me booking it in for more work.

As it turned out, he only charged me £10.50 for today’s work. I had expected to pay about three times that price — and told him that. His boss, standing within earshot, yelled out: “Tell her it’s £110.50!!” 

I didn’t think of it at the time, but I should have said, “Who do you think you are? Evans Cycles?!”


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