It happened suddenly, on my way to work. I wasn’t listening to music as I usually do; I thought I’d like to hear the sound of a sunny morning instead. I should have known that kind of hippie attitude would lead to no good. The first stretch was good, I had the wind in my back, red lights were far in-between, even the notorious taxis seemed to blend into the slow morning traffic without too much friction or anger. It’s always so deceptive; the calm preceding the storm. I arrived at the north side of Hyde Park, the only part of good asphalt my commute has to offer, when my bike suddenly began bouncing up and down, not a good sign when riding on smooth asphalt.
I feared a flat tire and got off to have a look. I noticed that the outside of my tire had come loose, which I didn’t even know was possible, But there it was, a tired bit of rubber aimlessly flapping around. I managed to carefully ride the last stretch into work, being the excellent biker I am, and entered the bike shop in our office building. “I think I need a new tire”, I professed to whoever came up to me. I pointed at my suddenly sorry-looking bike. “These tires are really old” the very young shop assistant answered (putting the emphasis on old). She suggested some excessively expensive new tires, which together with the labour cost would set me back as much as the entire bike did, when I bought it from a Peruvian Rastafarian on Portobello Road. I didn’t have time to think about the good old times, or the trustworthiness of my Peruvian bike dealer, so I signed some papers and was promised two new tires the day after.
I returned the following day after work, desperately wanting to hit the sun kissed asphalt and battle the angry motorist and lycra-clad-middle-age-crises-men on the London roads. The young lady handed over the old bike, now fitted with some extreme tires, making it look oddly imbalanced, as if a hippie with second-hand clothing suddenly put on a pair of designer high heels. But whatever, I walked out on the street and got ready to jump on when I noticed how my back wheel was wobbling and hitting the side of the frame. “This doesn’t look too good” I told the young lady in the bike shop. She had a look at the bike and said, “your back wheel is all crocked”, “Yes, I can see that” I said, not adding “that’s what I meant with the “doesn’t look too good” part you idiot”. Naturally the store called “CycleSurgery” had no cycle surgeon available at that moment, so instead of riding away on my new awesome tires, I was once again forced to take the tube and stare at people in silence. Things were getting desperate.