Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Reasons I love my mum. No 4,056

When I texted her to say I'd seen a gorgeous little wire-haired terrier in a bike basket and it had reaffirmed my desire for a cat basket on my bike, she didn't scoff, instead revealing her secret dream to get a mastiff that can be towed in a child trailer on her bike.


You, in the penguin-like body condom...

You're often on the Tour de Commute on the Uxbridge Road on your gorgeous expensive-looking bike and your black and white racing kit and cleats. You go very fast actually and I'm impressed by that. You have nice equipment, I envy it.

So it's a pity you're a t**t.

When there are five slowish people climbing a short hill on a very narrow stretch of road in heavy traffic you wait for a good time to overtake (as I was doing). You do NOT overtake them so closely they're nearly crushed against the 18-foot bendy bus they're overtaking. You do NOT then do the same thing to the others in the queue.

I'm sorry we were going a mere 15mph but it's a commute, it's not a f****** race. Get over yourself.

Oh and the white bits of your shorts highlight your other, more... ahem... physical, inadequacies.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Let me help you

I often see people cycling with nearly flat tyres. It depresses me as a lot of the time it's just poor maintenance or a lack of knowledge.

This morning I leant forward at a junction and addressed the latest flattie. 'I'm terribly sorry but you're back tyre is completely flat' (I'm quite posh and middle class about these things in that I apologise frequently). The lady in question turned round and looked panicked.... and embarrassed. 'Ummmmm, oh yes I see .... ummmm I'm sure it'll be fine ummmm until I get to work'.

Ladies and gentlemen, it was NOT fine, this was a tyre like a pancake and when she pedalled off one could actually see the rim hitting the road. But I knew this was a battle I wasn't going to win. In the face of such blatant denial one must walk away and offer help only when the flattie is willing to accept it.

She was wearing naught but a small handbag in the way of luggage and clearly did not have any kit with her and her abject terror betrayed the fact that she had absolutely no idea what to do.

I offer help to people (mainly damsels) in flattie distress perhaps four times a week. Some don't need it but most won't accept it only because they're in denial about it.

A p******* is not your fault, it could happen to all of us. I have the tools to help you, but only if you'll let me.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Setting an example

On Saturdays I teach small children music and I love it. I teach with my beloved moomin and recently we've started going by bike some of the time. And the children love it.

There are dozens of teachers at the music school but only around four of us come in by bike. I forego the lycra and wear black leggings with a long top but we often are still wearing our helmets and yellow vests when children start arriving and saying hello.

When I do night rides I tell them and they're often open-mouthed with awe, they love to hear about them and a few are bikers themselves already. At least one girl is desperate for a stunt bike for her birthday.

Too many parents are frightened of letting their children ride a bike. They don't have to go on a road, although one family locally goes to school every morning by road with the children carefully marshalled in the bus lane. It's a source of great joy to me to see the many tinies on bikes in the park near my house on the weekends. Increasingly I see whole families and the bike path near me often has a red-faced father towing children up the steep bit in a tow-along buggy or clip-on extension.

The best thing we can do to encourage children is to set an example. If they ask whey I wear my helmet and high-vis vest I tell them but it's all personal choice. Harder is fighting the temptation to swear at rubbish drivers when I'm near the music school. A range rover came so close to moomin and me on Saturday that I thought he was going to clip my ankle. You never know which parent drives which car and seeing their music teacher calling their dear mummy a c*** could undo all the good bicycle work even if dear mummy can't drive.

Until cycling is seen as a normal way of getting about children and young people won't see it as an option, so let's set an example.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Cycle lanes, the big debate

So there has been much hooing and haaaing over the whole, do cycle lanes make cars get closer to bikes debate. I just don't understand the hype, of course they do.

Along the Uxbridge Road there are both cycle and bus lanes and I lurve the bus lanes. The cycle lanes, not so much. Drivers seem to disengage the part of their brain that judges safe passing distance because if they're not crossing the dotted line, surely that means they're being responsible? Actually it just means that they're being totally selfish nobheads.

Bus lanes are fab because buses are far less frequent than cars so you have huge stretches with just you and the bike sailing along in a large, bright-red lane that no cars will touch because they'll be fined if they do. Cycle lanes are often parked in, driven in by scooters as well as cars, and many are so narrow that to get the whole width of your handlebars between the lines you cycle in the gutter through gravel, glass and the occasional dog poo.

The flagrant abuse of cycle lanes is what makes them so rubbish. Why the hell can't parking wardens get with the programme and start ticketing those who would force cyclists into the path of traffic because they need to avoid the five-minute walk caused by parking somewhere sensible (and legal)?

With this in mind, I've signed the Sustrans petition on making cycling safer (for women in particular).

I love to cycle and I love my bike, but when idiots swing in close 'But I haven't crossed the line even though my wing mirror's practically smacking your bottom' I know why other women are put off. Men tend to be far more risk-loving in my experience albeit limited. Maybe the government should stop whining about traffic congestion and actually invest in getting more people out of their cars.

Rant over!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Frog people

You know who you are. Your tiny BMX is entirely unsuitable for the road/park/pavement but you bounce along determined. Your feet turned outwards and your seat too low you bob along with your knees up by your ears, increasing your width three-fold.

Just in case you didn't know, you look really stupid.

Sunshiny cold

Many people I know make the assumption that high summer is the best time of year to cycle. Surely, they say, it's so nice to be out in the sun at one with nature... blah blah blah.


Summer involves being covered in a film of stingingly salty sweat, eyes squinting as it rolls into your eyes, bugs flying into your mouth and down into your bra, tan lines that coincide exactly with the sleeves of your jersey and the length of your shorts. Summer is also the time of year when people who haven't cycled in years decide that now is the time to give it a go, weaving across lanes of traffic, stubbornly refusing to let you pass them, jumping lights and squeaking frantically up hills.

Now is the time when the bugs recede a bit and the fair-weather cyclists think twice about the cold bike or the cosy tube. Now is when you start out a bit chilly but warm to a comfortable glow without getting too hot. Now the air is clear and you can see the squirrels packing away their nuts for winter and the birds flying across the sky as they head for warmer climes.

Now is one of the best and my favourite time to be a cyclist.

Thursday, 24 September 2009



Am famous.

** Have just had to amend the number and my goodness we're feeling commenty!

Traffic jam

There were massive queues on the way home last night. The traffic was at a stand-still and I spent a lot of the journey near home sailing along the deserted bus lane while cars sat stationary in the lane next to me.

So many cars stock still could mean only one thing, an accident, and a bad one.

There's nothing on the news but my sister was caught up in the jam last night in her car and was told by the policeman advising cars to turn back that it was a fatal collision and that crime scene photographs needed to be taken before bodies could be moved. I'm hoping it was only one and he was talking generally but who knows.

The local grapevine is suggesting that a child has been killed.

It's an accident blackspot and there are many fatalities in the half mile either side of where this accident has happened. I went through that section regularly before we moved and it was all too easy to forget just how dangerous it could be. The regular reminders were the sirens, the lights and the police directing traffic whenever the worst had happened.

I got home in record time last night because of the buses being diverted leaving me with the bus lane to myself. I'd rather have been late and for nothing to have gone so tragically wrong and to have foregone the reminder that roads are dangerous, whether you're powered by a motor, pedals or your own two feet.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Super whizzy weenie

Having buddied S the last two days I've been going at quite a sedate pace but this morning I was alone.

And my goodness I was fast.

I set off a bit late and was all panicked but I sit here, freshly showered, at my desk, blogging a full 10 minutes before work technically begins. Shocking stuff.

I overtook several people, including two who were red light jumping but I still managed to lose them eventually, and I was nearly hit by a van that swerved into my lane because he 'didn't expect me to be going so fast!' He apologised and as there was a small and frightened-looking child in the van with him I let it go. It was a genuine error rather than malicious and he apologised, which is more than most.

I sped off once more and, joy of joys, the whole of the hill in Acton was empty of cars and the lights were with me. Bugger all traffic meant that even the many vans parked in the cycle lane weren't a problem as I didn't have to swing in and out of the cycle lane continually.

I pedalled on towards Shepherds Bush and the lights remained with me. The enormous bus lane and flat road on that section means it can be very quick and glancing at my speedometer I was shocked to see I'd hit 36kph. Shocked but smug, obviously.

I then swept down the hill to Hammersmith in triumph.

All in all, a marvelous commute, hurray!

It just all adds weight to my argument that the Uxbridge Road is a far better cycle superhighway than the A40 route proposed by the head honchos. When it works, it's a great road to commute on and if the cycle lanes were better protected and some tweaks were made in some narrow places it'd be ideal.

Come on Boris, agree with me.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

A sad realisation

This morning the rude lady on the MTB was on my route again. This was the lady who called S and I idiots for no reason.

She pedalled away through red lights and junctions, S and I overtook her several times and she undertook me so close she hit me with her foot without noticing at a red light when I had stopped.

Then we reached a four-way junction. She mounted the pavement weaved left, decided to cycle across the pedestrian crossing, nearly hitting four people who were crossing it at the time, mounted the pavement the other side before rejoining the road. All this while the light was red and while cars were attempting to go through the junction while she was in the way. She saved a grand total of about one minute and S and I soon caught up.

To my surprise S lent over and gave her a hearty 'Have a great morning!' When woman asked why S pointed out that she and I were being gifted great amusement by her antics. Rude woman got quite shirty at this and sped off.

It was quite funny in a way but what made me sad was that sooner or later this woman will cause an accident and either she, or a pedestrian she hits or both will get hurt. Many cyclists skip red lights and although it's not something I do, many of them are at least aware of the traffic around them and adjust for it, this woman is completely self-absorbed. Unaware of the dangers she's putting herself and others in, it's only a matter of time before she comes acropper.

I shall, in future endeavor to stay out of her way, she's young, very pretty and probably has much to live for, watching her risk it all is just too sad.

Monday, 21 September 2009


Apologies for the late post but I am KNACKERED. Poor Mr Weenie had a bizarre night as he was so gripped by a nightmare that he woke me up by attempting to push me off the bed, gripping my arm when I asked what he was doing, attempting to leave the room via the wardrobe, then near running out of the bedroom door, coming to his senses only when he reached the bathroom and wondered what on earth he was doing in there.

As a consequence I'm bushed.

It doesn't help that I was out with my sisters last night too. Reg came with me to the pub though and it took me about 10 minutes to get home, bliss.

S and I met up at the usual time after last week's drama. We were understandably apprehensive. The bike shop couldn't find any problems despite her frequent inner tube splits so had concluded that my theory was correct and had retaped the inside of the wheel to protect the inner tubes from the spokes. After a test ride on Sunday had been successful we decided to go into work.

I had reasoned that the drama had lessened S's confidence a little so when we hit the road after the Chiswick Roundabout I carefully monitored my speed and let her take the lead. Oops. I was so busy checking my speedometer that I hadn't noticed she'd nipped off into the distance. I pedalled quickly to catch up only for her to nip off again. She was steaming ahead. She took lanes, overtook a Pashley, saw off an aggressive 4x4 and, as a result we got to Hammersmith Broadway at 8.45am. We were locking up our bikes by 8.55am.

When we first came all the way in we were locking up at 9.15am, that's a hell of a difference and means S has managed to achieve her goal of beating public transport for commuting time. We're already planning some longer routes home when she's built her confidence and strength back up. I was starting to wonder if we'd ever get over the bike problems and I'm pleased the bike shop saw sense, they even agreed to do the repairs for free.

At least for me, the nightmares are over.

Friday, 18 September 2009

The bounce has gone from my bungee

Anyone seen my bounce?

It probably doesn't help that I was late home last night. At long last we've discovered why S has had four flats in two rides. Unfortunately I had already repaired one split and was halfway through pumping the tyre back up when PSSSSSST!

A second split had occurred exactly one spokes width further up the tube.The spokes are poking up through the rim tape and piercing the inner tube. As a consequence we had to walk all the way to Chiswick to tell Evans and get them to solve the problem. We should hear later today whether they agree with the theory but the guy last night agreed it was the most plausible explanation.

I got home at 8pm and tidied, our flat's still a bombsite after the move. My darling moomin brought us delicious lasagne 'I was just making some and thought you might like some', confirming that she is the top moomin of all time, then I collapsed into bed, waking at 4am with backache and then sleeping upright on the sofa with an excited Mr Handsome purring happily on my lap.

The result of all this is that I'm knackered and when an older gentleman on an ancient tourer whizzed past me this morning I barely noticed. To paraphrase the great Wallace of Gromit fame, the bounce has most definitely gone from this bungee.

Thursday, 17 September 2009


I'm sure I am one of a plethora of cyclists who got totally pissed on on Tuesday night but I'm probably nt alone in feeling like it was my very own rite of passage/personal hell.

I have been totally drenched unexpectedly less than five times in my cycling career but Tuesday rates number one for wet, cold, bad visibility, and awful traffic.

As the minutes ticked by in the afternoon, the comments to me and the other cyclist on my floor became less giggly and more pitying. We sat, waiting for it to ease up, but it never did. As I was dad-sitting that night I got ready and prepared to leave, tying Tesco bags round my feet in a vague attempt to keep them warm, if not dry.

As I neared Ealing the rain got heavier and the puddles were getting to around a foot in depth near the kerb. I avoided as many as was safely possible but my feet were dipping in and out of the water as I pedalled in places. Other cyclists dressed in dark colours jumped red lights and left their lights off in what I can only conclude were attempts at suicide. I couldn't see them so I know that drivers certainly couldn't.

I took the middle of the lane, I wore my high-vis yellow jacket and I had my lights on but I took nothing for granted. Visibility was VERY low and I just assumed I was invisible and acted accordingly. Sirens all around me gave me the impression that not everyone was being so careful.

I got to the fish and chip shop drenched and got our supper before packing it into my thankfully waterproof panniers and taking it to dad.

Reg was stowed in my parents' hallway with newspaper all over the place to protect the floor and I shivered in soaking wet clothes as I tucked into steaming hot fish and chips.

My mum arrived home at around 8.30pm, stormed in and said with conviction: 'You are NOT cycling home.' I was off yesterday anyway so I allowed myself to be driven home and I cycled Reg home in the blazing sunshine yesterday.

I almost think every cyclist who got home on Tuesday night deserves a medal, but those selfish enough to whizz around in dark clothing and no lights dramatically increased their odds of not getting home at all, so deserve nothing. I can only hope they'll think twice about it next time.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Women in big cars

I'm sorry if I'm betraying some secret womanhood pact or something but why are some tiny women driving around in enormous cars?

They don't know their width, some are barely visible over the top of the steering wheel and they're a total hassle.

I've very rarely had a problem with big trucks. I leave them alone and, on the rare occasion that I decide it's safe to get in front of them, a cheery wave or smile with eye contact usually ensures that we share the road amicably and both get on with our days. On many occasions big trucks have actually allowed me to pass or given me extra room when overtaking.

Very rarely I'll come across a total nob but it's far more often that nobs are in transit vans, not enormous behemoths.

I think the difference is that big trucks are often driven my men and women who are used to their size and destructive capability. They're secure in their driving and the trucks are usually huge because they have to be, no other reason.

Women in big cars on the other hand often seem very timid and nervous behind the wheel. They seem to have absolutely no idea just how dangerous their combined tonnes of engine and metal could be when driven badly. Their cars are big because they want to feel 'secure'.

Too bad they scare the crap out of the rest of us.

** I write this secure in the knowledge that my dad drives a transit and is a good driver and my mum drives a people carrier and is also a good driver. Not all of them are bad but the proportion does seem higher than other groups.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Lycra, practical on men, pervy on women.

There's a bike shop fairly near work and I like it. The staff are generally very helpful and most of them remember who I am. However, there is a problem and it's one of their other regular customers. He's around twice my age and never looks at my face.

He's said hello before and I've always given the nod and silent smile of 'I'm being polite but not giving the go ahead for you to talk to me'. Normally I've managed to time my departure so I'm not alone with him and can cycle on in peace. This morning, after popping in for valve dust caps, I woefully mistimed it.

He followed me out admired my bike, then made several comments around the theme of 'You must be fit with a figure like that', 'You must cycle quite far to look like that' etc etc. I was desperately trying to get my panniers clipped and get out of there.

I've always admired women who know how to handle this kind of situation because I really don't. I cringe, I'm overly polite and all the time I'm panicking inside. When he said 'Which way are you going, because I reckon I should go that way too' with a leer I wanted the ground to swallow me. Instead I pedalled off, very fast.

So fast in fact that I overtook several swanky roadies and got into work much faster than usual.

I was wearing black cycle shorts that stop two inches above my knee, a bright pink short-sleeved jersey, trainers and a helmet. Hardly come hither attire. I've been whistled at and catcalled a few times but what I wear is not hugely different from other people on the road, it's just that I'm female.

What makes it ok to perv over a women in lycra when, quite frankly, the sight of a man in bibshorts inspires giggles in most women?

Why is lycra seen as a practical measure when men wear it and a come-on when women do?

So unfair.

999 cat rescue

Since my previous post about Mr Handsome's leap of death was so popular I thought I'd better document The Fat One's recent escapade.

I work a second job on Saturdays teaching small children the love of music so Mr Weenie was at home alone with the pusses while doing some paperwork. A knock at the door roused him from his work thoughts. A neighbour was at the door and said 'I think your cat's stuck on the roof. She's really loud.'

Mr Weenie, puzzled headed onto the balcony and was hit with a barrage of 'Miaow!'

She was indeed on the roof and was refusing to come down. He climbed on boxes, shook the biscuit bag and came perilously close to falling several time but to no avail. She disappeared at one point. He started to panic but heard 'She's having a wee on the other side'. Turning round he saw that most of the neighbours from the neighbouring block had come put to see the rescue and were now watching as The Fat One weed on the roof.

One shouted 'It's like 999 cat rescue!' before giggling. The Fat One kept coming close to Mr Weenie but wouldn't come down. He went back inside to ponder his next move when a loud and ungainly crashing sound came from the balcony. She'd jumped down, unharmed, after causing him massive embarrassment. Charming. He's not sure but he's sure one of the neighbours applauded.

Friday, 11 September 2009

The fairy can f off

I got ANOTHER puncture this morning.

I'd barely wheeled Reg out of the door when I realised. I always give my tyres a quick pinch before I set off and the back on was decidedly squidgy. Yes the back one, AGAIN. The one that's trickier to get off, trickier to put back and that always seems to end up rubbing the brakes so I have to get off again a mile later to realign it.

I nearly just pedalled off hoping it was a slow one but decided I had to check it. Thank goodness I did as the hole was quite large. No sign of the culprit even though I checked the tyre thoroughly. I found the corresponding hole but no object.

Although I was very annoyed about it all and it made me really late it was gratifying that I worked as I grumbled and had the confidence this time to just get on with it.

An elderly man passed me on the pavement and gave me a good stare before giving a cheerful nod and a hat-lift. Two young women posting leaflets beamed at me and talked in an eastern European language about what I was doing (I can't speak it but they were pointing). And a teenager on her way to school smiled shyly.

All of them were very interested in what I was actually doing and I think it's because so few people know how to do it. I was performing magic obviously.

The repair seems to have held into work and I reckon it'll be fine.

That fairy can bugger off though. Friendly smiles just don't make up for it I'm afraid.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

An eventful evening followed by a boring commute

Following our recent move our two pusses* have a balcony all to themselves. A cat flap was already installed and, although we're on the first floor, it has a concrete surround and the cats love being out there.

Last night we experimented with letting them sit out there at night if they wanted to. After all, the previous occupants had no problems....

At 2am Mr Weenie was awoken by a neighbouring flat. They were moving elephants around and making a hell of a racket. While up to see what was going on he noticed the distinct lack of grey cat. Mr Handsome was missing. He woke me and we looked everywhere before resorting to the failsafe, we shook the biscuit bag.

A distant 'Maow!' was our reward. Fearing the worst I threw some clothes on, dashed downstairs and went round to the back of the block. Visions of a mangled mess, broken bones and death scenes filled my head as I prepared to root through the undergrowth. Then Mr Weenie whispered from the balcony 'He's on the fire escape.' Sure enough, far from being hurt, Mr Handsome had climbed up the next block's fire escape and was looking at our flat's balcony as if attempting to work out how to get back to it.

I swept him into my arms and buried my nose in his fur, cooing 'My baby!'. He struggled to get away and was most put out at being returned to the flat.

Mr Weenie and I blocked the flap and went back to bed.

At 6.40am we were woken again, this time by someone in our flat. Naked, Mr Weenie went onto the landing and demanded to know what on earth he was doing (I should mention his personal area was hidden by the top of the bannister). The man retorted that we shouldn't be there and what were we doing? I lay in bed, quilt clasped to my bosom waiting for the argument to end. It did, with the man (a gas inspector) agreeing to return once we had clothes on.

Turns out the postal strike has delayed our tenancy paperwork and the company still has the flat listed as vacant so had willingly given the gasman the keys.

He checked all the gas appliances, deemed them safe and left.

At 8.45am I left for work on Reg on one of the busiest roads in London.

At 9.15am I arrived at work.


* I shall give them pseudonyms to protect their anonymity given that they have not given consent to be mentioned: Mr Handsome and The Fat One.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

The great cleat debate

I'm tempted I'll admit it.

Cleats are the things in your shoes that clip into specially designed pedals. Your feet are secure even if it's weeing with rain and, apparently they can improve your pedal power as your foot is in the correct position.

But if you don't get out of them in time at a junction you fall over sideways in an undignified manner.

Mr Weenie is against them as he reckons I'll fall over continually and I'm worried about the fact you can't pedal in normal shoes so if your cleats are wet/unusable you're screwed. You can get cleat shoes that you can walk in as well as pedal so, ostensibly, it wouldn't be that much of a barrier but specialist shoes cost a huge amount more than normal ones.

I'm torn.

Any advice gratefully received.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Doing my bit to improve the roadie image

On a lot of cycle forums roadies get a bad rep.

They're unfriendly, they're snobs, they never say hello etc etc.

I got chatting to a nice guy on the Uxbridge Road the other night when it was incredibly windy. Wind is a great leveller and Reg's speedy road frame was being blown around while this guy's MTB was too heavy to build speed. So we ended up chatting for a while as we bobbed along home.

After he turned off home with a cheery wave it suddenly struck me that I was the opposite of the stereotype. I may be a roadie but I'm often the person who strikes up a conversation, I offer to stop and help various people with flats and mechanicals and I often smile and wave at small children who shout 'Bicycle!' as I pass.

I'm a one-woman PR exercise, pushing for the remarketing of roadies as nice people.

Thin tyres, big heart.

Friday, 4 September 2009

I'll take the high horse...

S and I were pootling along this morning. We were chatting as we went as there was very little traffic and we had a bus lane to ourselves while the few cars around had two lanes to play with and any cyclists had lots of room to overtake.

Imagine my shock then when a woman came past and muttered loudly 'You're cycling like idiots!' before wobbling away.

I say wobbling because we've passed her before and she cycles in a very low gear and often wobbles while pedalling madly. S and I shrugged it off and continued. I was a bit annoyed as this particular woman runs red lights, wobbles and weaves and is, generally, quite selfish in her cycling. Plus she actually doesn't go that much quicker than we do. I know because I see her frequently.

I tried to forget about it, but at the next very busy junction she was there and was attempting the run the red light. I say attempting because she got ahead of the stop line and was forced to stop as a car came hurtling across (which it had every right to do as it had a green). She then tried again and I don't know what she did to her gears but she was pedalling like a woman possessed and going absolutely nowhere. She wobbled so badly at one point I thought she was going to tip over, weaved all over the lane and finally reached the other side.

Needless to say S and I had to work hard not to guffaw loudly. We didn't entirely succeed.

Apologies all

Horrendously busy week at work means I've been somewhat slack this week.

Note to self: Must try harder.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Happy days and marshmallow caterpillars

Fortunately for her friends, family and self S completed her first solo commute unscathed last night and got home safe and sound.

Unfortunately for me and my faithful readers it means there's little to blog about in terms of exciting cycle news.

However, off topic but equally important is my discovery of M&S Colin the Caterpillar marshmallows. Billed as 'He is what he eats' they're developed on the premis that he's eaten chocolate, strawberries and vanilla and the caterpillars are in segments of these flavours at random. Mmmmmmmmmmm

I am currently dealing with the stress of having moved house, a horrendous week at work and my looming 27th birthday. But, magically, marshmallow caterpillars are having a Prozac effect. Hooray!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

A visit from the fairy for S

On cycling forums, the word puncture is treated like a swear word. Often spelt with asterisks it's something every cyclist dreads and it's often referred to as the p******* fairy. Superstitiously, it's thought that mentioning it can hasten it's arrival.

Well S and I hadn't mentioned the fairy this morning but she still got a visit. As she's riding home alone tonight I was following from a distance and allowing her free rein. She was doing marvellously, even overtaking a bus and dealing a with a nasty driver by taking the moral high ground and pulling over.

Then, she signalled left, when our route was clearly straight on. She pulled onto the pavement and it was clear something was wrong, or rather, flat.

The back tire was pancake-like and I pulled out the tools to repair it. It was a split with a tiny hole so we patched it up and I let her know that, in my opinion, it looked like a fault with the tube and to tell the bike shop. We then carried on and arrived at work on time but with no shower time so, technically, a bit late.

It was only disappointing because S had being flying along at speed and had been textbook in her looking, signalling and maneuvering. Now her seat's wobbly as well so that'll be something to look at at lunchtime.

What I was most impressed by was her completely unflapping response to the fairy. She signalled and got off the road and, once the hole was repaired, confidently pedalled off to complete the journey. Lovely.

*Update: Thank you mystery man at work with a magical multitool. Having seen me pondering the seat problem he agreed with me that the main bolt was loose and had it tightened in a matter of moments. Well done that man.