Thursday, October 25, 2012

The break-up

This was written for a cycling short story competition. Sadly pipped at the post but the theme was The Bike and it had to be done in no more than 1,000 words.


The break-up

Time was already against him as he unlocked the garage door and stepped into the gloom to pull his bike out from the tangle of wheels and pedals belonging to his children's brightly coloured smaller versions of his own mud covered hybrid.

The bike has been a bargain at just £104 on eBay, although he had been forced to drive from South East London to Colchester one Thursday evening to get it after winning the auction. A small but solidly built man had opened the door and shown him into the lounge where a bike resembling the small thumbnail he had seen on the web stood waiting leaning against the stairs.

"I got it a year ago for £300 expecting to get into cycling. I tried it but didn't like it. Most of it's brand new," he said as he wheeled the bike towards the door.

"Oh just one thing," he said once the bike was well clear of his house, "you might want to have a look at the back brakes. They might not be safe."

Then the door was closed and the two of them were alone. It was a dark autumnal night and despite not being able to see most of the finer details he couldn't take his eyes off the bike.

Before this investment he had been using a mountain bike purchased for £15 in cash at Deptford market. That bike had ended up being confined to three working gears with a tendency for the chain to slip going uphill when the slightest pressure was exerted on the pedals. It could have been fixed but it could never be justified on the grounds of throwing good money after what had been such a dodgy choice of two wheels.

That left him with a restricted budget and the internet. Surfing night after night hoping that he could stumble across a bargain Bianchi or a mis-labelled and under bidded on Specialized it became clear there were many others doing the same.

His final choice, a Trek 7100X hybrid, had the gears, the brand name brakes and components and looked the part. A combination of blue and silver he could already see himself gliding along London streets as he headed too and from work.

It was love at first ride and compared to the mountain bike the pace was higher and the ride was smoother. Slipping into the Lycra and riding to work had never felt so enjoyable.

But coming back from work one day to pick up the bike at Forest Hill station revealed a buckled wheel as a result of a van reversing into the bike shelter adding to problems he had already experienced with the brakes that he had been warned about.

He had to pay the bike shop to fix the wheel and the brakes and despite misgivings about the experience he tried to get back onto the saddle and rekindle that love affair. A few months later he happened by pure chance to cycle into the riots in Peckham High Street, as the masked youths swarmed across the road, they knocked again the bike and the back wheel buckled again. The costs of fixing the bike mounted up past the amount it had cost to get in the first place.

Squeaks, bottom brackets wearing out and chains slipping on the nasty home climb up Shooters Hill started to undermine the riding to work experience. As he was over taken by thinner, lighter road bikes with riders resplendent in team jerseys, enjoying clip in pedals and smooth rides he began to dream of buying a better bike.

It was now just a question of striking when the sales were at their height and as he pedalled along he could picture himself cutting an impressive figure on a lighter bike that would make him whizz to work in record time.

Pulling the Trek out of the garage was something that he now did with a heavy heart. The bike had not done anything wrong, had only let him down due to accidental damage, but now he had dreams of being a better rider and this bike could not take him there.

Soon he knew he would be closing the garage door on the bike for the last time.

"It's not you. It's me. I've changed and I'm sorry but I don't want the same things anymore."

1 comment:

Parrish Lantern said...

A feeling I've known well, although at the moment I'm polygamous relationship between myself a Specialized & a Boardman.