The Bran Report

It's good for parts of you that you'd probably rather not think about.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Wheels o' Fire

Up until sometime on Sunday, I had a bike named "Wheels o' Fire".

Before the WoF, I had a bike called Stirling and before that, I had The Fleetfoot. (Incidentally, the Fleetfoot is a Anglification of "Velocipede", because I love sullying thingsn with my Saxon tongue. Tell your friends.)

Fleetfoot got stolen by (I assume) a drunkard with very poor taste. I neglected poor Stirling, then took the advice of someone who is not willing to ride a bike into the ground.

I have never knowna bike to fail as spectacularly as the Wheels o' Fire has just done. At 10 am this Sunday. he had a soft rear wheel and brakes that squeaked when wet. Let's do an inventory of what he looks like after a few houes parked on a street off the Botley road.

Gears: The spring part that's meant to keep the chain taunt? That looks really wrong.

Brakes: My brakes are the same, on average. That is, the front brake has flipped dramatically away from the wheel so that it is always off. The read brake has done the opposite, so that is is always very on.

Read tire: So flat that the contact area between tiren and road is, I don't know, a million square millimetres?

Cables: I don't remember exactly where all these cables went before, but this definitely looks wrong, That's some awful Feng-shui.

Had this systems cascade failure happened while I was in the Tesco at the end of my road, I'd have shrugged, accepted it as part of the great story that is life, and reminded myself that I'm moving cross-country in a month. Instead, it happened that I was on the opposite side of the city. If super-flat tyres and clamped-down brakes achieve anything, it stops a wheel turning. I did not push my bike from Botley Road: I dragged it. If anyone should say to you, "Hey, Juan, I'm thinking of carrying a bike through town by putting my shoulder to the seat and balancing the whole mess upside down- what's your opinion?", then I advise you to say "Well, Maryannzebeth, you'll look like a bit of a fool."

So I faced a dilemma. Drag/balance/just hold the back wheel off the ground like the world's most ridiculous/least comfortable game of Wheelbarrows ever, OR, chuck it in the river.

I'm not normally tempted by the dark side like this- especially since the bright young things who come to Oxford love nothing more than to celebrate by leaping off a ten-metre bridge into a one-metre deep canal. Adding a rusty bicycle to that underwater equation- well, it's just not socially responsible.

So, I faced the herculean effort ahead of me like a man and dragged the poor forlorn Wheels o' Fire up Castle Hill. I was set in for the long haul.

After six or seven minutes I saw a bicycle rack populated by nothing but rusted-out and broken frames.

There may be some strange bicycle reincarnation through the medium of spare parts. Attention, world: If you're one of the cycle-shamans who helps this process happen, get thee to Bonn Square. It ain't locked.

RIP, Wheels o' Fire. You served me well.

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