There are days when cycling is just a matter of pedalling down empty rural lanes in the spring sunshine, the blackthorn bursting into flower all around you, birds singing, sheep fleeing, scattering cheery nods and waves to all as you fly past them with the wind at your back.
And there are days when your front wheel comes off.
Not, I hasten to add, when I was in motion. I had been in Bigtown to visit the library, and attend a meeting which had then been cancelled – it was shaping up to be one of those days, frankly – and I had gone on, down the river path to look at an art-cum-performance-cum-tidal-power installation that was shut down at the time of my visit. As I turned to go home, I heard a strange rubbing noise, looked down and saw that my front wheel had come out of its front wheel attachy things (you’ll excuse the technical term) and the nuts holding it on had worked themselves loose. Aargh. Naturally this happened on the day I’d not bothered with my phone because really, what could go wrong on a jaunt into Bigtown and back? I managed to get the wheel back on, but crooked, and had to limp two miles back with the front brake alternately not working and rubbing to the nearest bike shop (which was closed) and then the second nearest bike shop where a very nice young man managed to get it back on straight by hitting it with a hammer*.
‘How could such a thing have happened?’ I asked.
‘The only way is if someone didn’t put it on properly in the first place,’ he said.
Ah. That someone would be me. About two months ago I had to take the wheel off to get it in someone’s car to go for a ride, and I’d been foolhardy enough to put the wheel back on myself the second time as it seemed pretty straightforward…not in my hands, obviously. Anyway, I cycled back, into the wind, two pounds poorer and somewhat shaken in my belief that I was beginning to get the hand of these bicycle things. the other half is going to have to have a good look at my bike to see if any other important bits are in the process of coming off. Meanwhile, I think a bicycle repair course for the mechanically challenged may well be in order…
* It was a little more complicated than this, but that seemed to be the thing that did the trick. Indeed, I was a bit relieved that it took him a certain amount of monkeying about with it to get it straight, so it wasn’t just me being an idiot, but that may just be standard bike shop mechanic courtesy towards distressed female customers who have something ludicrously simple wrong with their bikes