I’m stood showing a near full train every contour from the waist down. How did this happen?
When my pristine machine came out of the shop yesterday, me riding home on a train was most certainly not in the script.
Resplendent with its new red handlebar tape, lighting up the road ahead; new pedals and cleats that made the most beautiful sound when you clipped in, making you feel secure like when you held your Dad’s hand as a child.
It was a routine service, but it had been a present and I was over the moon with it. This machine was going to take me places and I knew that it was primed in peak condition to do so.
With a smile from ear to ear since picking it up from the shop, I set my alarm to 8am, wolfed down a breakfast and was on my way. My kit already laid out from the night before; red top that made it look like I was one with the bars and the detailing on the frame, best socks freshly fabric-softened to within an inch of their life. Me and this bike were ready to take on the world, or at least ride up the coast to Southport and back before the FA Cup games were on.
Heading out north of the city, the miles started to tick away nicely, Crosby, Waterloo, Formby, Hightown all came and went until I reached MeCycle; a little cafe on the outskirts of Southport. Coffee and a carrot cake in there and I’d gone from great to invincible. I’d be back here.
Sat beside the train station I sat in the comfort of the cafe, I text home and joked about coming home on the train, ‘is it cheating?’ I laughed. Oh I wouldn’t be laughing about it soon.
Caffeinated and full of cake I set off for home, ticking off the first half dozen miles, taking a detour along the B roads. I lost myself for a minute or so, and due to the lack of traffic, rather than paying complete attention to where I was going, I was instead fascinated by the shine of the wet tyres rolling along, they looked perfect. Suddenly I felt a thud over a sunken grate and immediately the front went loose. Bo***cks!
Puncture to the front, but it was fine, I’d already proved myself to be a master mechanic, so this shouldn’t be too much trouble, just a routine front wheel. I propped the bike up against a farmer’s gate went into my saddle bag, where there were tyre levers and a pu…no there wasn’t a pump, I’d taken it out before it went for a service, same with the spare inner tube. I knew this feeling all too well, it’s time to walk.
I had a mile to walk to Hightown station, a mile to reflect on the morning ,a mile to take in the scenery, a mile to awkwardly tell passing people that I was fine, and didn’t need assistance (I still had a touch of pride). The passing motorists eager to get past on the single track road weren’t the worst, neither were the semi-pro cycling clubs, decked out in every page of the Rapha catalogue who were judging me from the moment I got into sight. No, the worst people I encountered were the old couples; highly visible in their bright yellow and turquoise who sympathetically asked if you needed anything then rode on their merry way, at a pace that was incredibly disheartening as they very slowly disappeared into the distance. Still, they were going quicker than me. Just.
The road to the station snaked one way then another and covered more than double the distance as the crow flies, and as I neared the end I came across a Sunday league haven. Just about my luck today the games had just finished and 50-60 cars were making their way out of the muddy car park down the single-track forcing me further into the edge. I popped the bike up onto the bike wheel to prevent me walking in a ditch and heard ‘the noise’….sssssssssssssssss. Oh great, the back tyre’s just caught a puncture. Well, it should be expected today.
Eventually, I made it to the station, I knew as much because there was a train just pulling out of it. Mine. Oh well, only half an hour to wait, at least it’s not raining. I got my ticket, took a lonely seat on the platform knowing I was about to join a train wearing nothing on my bottom half but some unflattering lycra and waited the 28 remaining minutes. Small victory at the end I had a little biscuit from the cafe in my pocket, which obviously snapped in half as I opened it and dropped on the platform. Not to worry, I’m very much a biscuit wrapper half full kind of person.
Oh great. Rain.