Double Trouble

March 6, 2013 at 20:33 | Posted in bicycles | 4 Comments
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kidsonbikeWhat with toddler Chillikebab pretty much graduating into ‘Little Girl Chillikebab’, and Baby Chillikebab II graduating into ‘Toddler Chillikebab II’, I have been in urgent need of sorting out a transport solution for both of them. The little BoBike seat on the front is getting too small for Little Girl Chillikebab, and so the obvious solution was to put a regular sized seat onto the back of the bike for her, and put Toddler Chillikebab II in the BoBike.

All very simple, you might think, and so did I. But whilst I love the Radish, things are not so straightforward when it comes to accessories. That large, wide rack on the back is too wide to fit a regular bike seat to. Indeed, the only seat that seems to fit is the ‘Yepp Maxi’ – this is the one Xtracycle sell to put on the back. There are two versions of this seat – one that clamps onto the downtube, and one that fits on the (special) carrier found on many Dutch bikes (as in real Dutch bikes Dutch people buy, rather than the general style).

So my first thought was the one that clamps on the downtube, as it was going to avoid a whole bunch of additional accessories. But then when examining the Radish, I got worried that the design of the bike, with its sloping top-tube and long seatpost, was not going to be suitable to bolt the bracket to.

And the other issue was the price. The Yepp Maxi is about $200 in Australia, and whilst it’s available in the UK for about $130, being so bulky the shipping cost was exorbitant (or else it could not be shipped).

It all got worse when I started looking at the other bits I needed to bolt it to the back of the bike. I needed a new deck for the Radish, a bunch of mounting hardware and a rack adapter. Together with the seat, the whole thing was going to come to well over $400. Given that you can buy a perfectly serviceable rear seat for about $70, and a perfectly serviceable new bike for about $350, I seriously considered simply buying a whole new bike for the purpose.

So I ummed and ahhhed for some time. Eventually, however, I just bit the bullet and got on with it; the Radish is great bike for this kind of thing, and so I decided to fork out for all the relevant bits; buying the seat locally and ordering the other bits direct from Xtracycle.

It all arrived promptly, so a week or so later I was able to get on with the task of bolting it all together. It was quite straightforward, and before long we were ready to roll.

Toddler Chillikebab II absolutely loved it. She laughed and giggled the whole time on our inaugural ride, and cried when we got home again and I took her out of the seat, pointing at it and saying ‘In! In!’. Little Girl Chillikebab also enjoyed her first ride in her ‘big girl seat’, and the fact she can climb up in and out of it by herself makes it doubly exciting (gotta love that twin-leg stand!). Since then, however, I sense that Little Girl Chillikebab is having second thoughts, having realised that being stuck on the back is less fun than up front with Daddy, where there are handlebars to grab and bells to ring.

For me, well, it’s fun fun fun. The bike handing is dandy, and I can chat to them both quite happily as we go along. The fact that the rear seat is mounted further back than on a regular bike means I can look over my shoulder and see the passenger more easily. The Yepp Maxi is no doubt a very sturdy and well-designed seat (you’d hope so for that price!), and you can easily remove it from the rack when you’re not transporting little people. The only thing about it that’s not great are the straps; the way the adjustment works means that you can’t make them especially small. Little Girl Chillikebab is quite slightly built, and even though she is three years old I can’t really get them as tight as I’d like. Given that the seat is advertised as suitable from two year old, I’m surprised – I’d be very sceptical that you could get a smaller child in there and strap them in securely.

There remains only one problem, however. Transporting the kids is now a breeze, and we go on outings to the park and the shops. And I can remove the rear seat when I’m on my own. But the adapter thingy that the seat attaches to sits proud of the deck by about three or four centimetres – which means I have lost the long, flat surface I need to strap my trombone to. And crates of beer, for that matter. However, a solution to this problem soon presented itself, which I shall detail in a future blog post!


A tale of two drivetrains

February 19, 2013 at 20:22 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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ficed gear drivetrainI finally got around to fixing the drivetrain on my fixie. I spend a few weeks ummming and ahhhing about buying the bits online and doing it myself  – I even went so far as to put them all into a shopping basket on Wiggle, but never actually pressed ‘purchase’. The main reason was I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get the lockring off the the fixed sprocket. I do have the right tool, but it’s a rather puny, cheapo affair that I suspected would not be up to the task. I did then consider also buying a decent tool to do it with (which would still have worked out cheaper than the LBS), and perhaps a new lockring (in case I trashed the old one getting it off), but by this time it was all getting too hard, so I decided to go to the LBS instead. Oh, and I am also too lazy to do these things myself.

I took the bike in in November, but for various reasons it took until the end of January to get the work done. Now, I don’t want to slag off my LBS here, as they re really nice guys who are generous with their time and do a good job for me. But, well, sometimes I do thing small stores could be a little more organised. What with my order getting lost in some diary transfer, confusion about what size chainwheel I needed and a discussion about whether it was a freewheel or fixed gear I wanted it all took a long time to get sorted out, what with wrong parts having to be sent back and so on. Customer service is about more than just great service whilst you’re in the shop; it also extends to getting the details right first time and not losing track of orders. Oh well, sermon over. I suppose it meant I eked a few more months out of a pretty-much-dead drivetrain.

Whilst the fixie was in surgery, I of course rode the Radish. And in doing so realised it too needed some TLC; the front brake pads were worn down and the gears were not changing smoothly. So I booked it in for a service. It turned out that the drivetrain on that was ‘end-of-life’ too; the technician put the chain wear gauge on it and declared ‘it’s well over 2% stretched – that chain is never going to change gears smoothly. You need a new chain and cluster.’. Funny; it never occurred to me that it might be worn out – even though the bike is four or five years old and it’s still on the original chain. So this all had to be arranged too; thankfully with no ordering stuff-ups so it was all dealt with very quickly and efficiently.

So now I had two new drivetrains, with both bikes feeling silky smooth and lovely to pedal. The fixie did indeed feel teriffic – all the play in the drivetrain was gone, as was the grinding, rattling sound of the chain. Just smooth, oiled whirring. But the Radish didn’t seem so good; something as still rattling and grinding around. I gave it a quick once over, and discovered the culprit – the bearings in the pedal were toast, and the right pedal was wobbling and grinding around like the ones on an old kids trike. Back to the LBS for a set of new pedals, and things seemed better again. But then not. The drivetrain still felt a bit grindy, and the gears were jumping. I was riding along unhappily, thinking that I would have to take it back to the LBS again, when I remembered something. I pulled up, and had a peek under the pannier. A-ha! Of course! The rear skewer had worked loose again! No wonder it was all a bit odd with the back wheel wobbling around all over the place. The LBS guys wouldn’t have know that it tends to do this, and that it needs to be super tight. So I tightened it up, and continued on my ride (and props to the fellow cyclist who stopped to ask if I was OK at 10.30pm last night when I was sorting it out – much appreciated).

Bliss. Smooth, oiled whirring and slick gear changes. Fellow cyclists unite – you have nothing to lube but your chains!


January 5, 2013 at 11:59 | Posted in bicycles | 3 Comments
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So I put Strava on my phone. Strava, for those not acquainted with it, is an app which tracks your route, how fast you go, how long you take and so on. And then the really evil bit – it compares how fast you ride each ‘segment’ with other riders who have followed the same route (or bits of the route). If you are fast enough, you get an award, a place on the leader-board and a ‘King of the Mountain’ (KoM) badge. This has also sparked some controversy, as it may encourage people to ride too fast or take risks in order to improve their score. Given the somewhat competitive nature of Australian commuter cyclists (something from which I am not immune) I’d say this is pretty much inevitable. Still, I thought I’d give it a go, as being able to measure the distance and speed of different routes to work seemed interesting.

So far, I have used it twice. The first time I was riding the Radish, the second my fixie. So what interesting things can we glean from this experiment?


Well, on the Radish my average speed was 17.6km/h, whilst on the fixie it was 24.2km/h. This means it took me an extra six minutes to get to work (even though it was a slightly shorter route). However, it takes me about 10 minutes to have a shower, and on the Radish I can ride to work in my regular clothes – which confirms my suspicions that a slow, cruisy ride on the Radish actually gets me to work (as in ‘at my desk’) quicker than the fixie.


Here’s the speed graph for the two rides – Radish on the left, fixie on the right. Bizarrely, I hit a faster speed on the Radish – and rather near the end of the ride. I wonder where it was? I used the route map function to work out where I managed to crank a cargo bike up to 50km/h in the CBD, and it was here:


I don’t remember making that detour from the Kent St bike lane, but there you are. From memory there’s a cupcake shop on that corner with Erskine St, so if you were in there buying a dozen mini frosted cupcakes when a guy on a cargo bike came hurtling through the display at 50km/h, please accept my sincerest apologies.

I can also use Strava to find out how I compare to other Sydney racers commuters.


Apparently I am the six-hundred-and-fifty-first fastest person to ride over Anzac Bridge – and am about 25 seconds faster on the fixie than on the Radish. I’ve no idea when time of day David Evans screams over at 40km/h, (nor what kind of legs he has), but I can only hope either it’s at three in the morning when there are no pedestrians on the path or he’s riding on the road.

Apparently if you pay for a premium Strava subscription, you can see different leaderboards for different categories. So for example I could feel good about the fact I am actually the fiftieth fastest in the ‘old curmudgeons riding cargo bikes in thongs’ category, or tenth fastest in the ‘obsessed with fixies but have very weak legs’ category. It costs $6 a month for such ego-boosting features.

So there you are – my experiences with Strava. So far I’ve only used it those two times, and to be honest, I probably won’t use it often. Whilst I tried to resist I was not immune to the temptation to push a little harder (well, on the fixie at least. On the Radish I just cruised along as usual), and whilst that’s be fine in some circumstances and on some routes, I can’t help feeling Anzac Bridge at rush hour isn’t one of them. Still, if you love Strava and it helps you train more often and harder good luck to you. I can see how it could be motivational. Just be careful out there, and remember beating your personal best on some phone app is less important that the comfort and safety of both yourself and other road and path users.

Bike on Bike Action (2)

May 30, 2012 at 16:38 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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It’s been taking rather a long time to sort out the problem with my fixie forks, and whilst I was riding it for a while the reaction of a mechanic in a local bike shop gave me pause for thought (he went pale, looked at me and simply said ‘Well, I wouldn’t ride it, not even to go up the street. That fork could collapse at any moment!’).
So it’s been in the garage for a few weeks whilst replacement forks are organised. However, the time came earlier in the week to take it into the shop for treatment to commence. Initially I just thought I’d ride it in, but the mechanic’s words were still ringing in my ears, so I hesitated. But perhaps there was another way?

I’ve carried a lot of things on the Radish over the past few years, but to date I’ve struggled to find a way to transport a road bike. I’ve managed a fold-up bike, but fitting a full sized bike on the back to date has foxed me.

However, necessity is the mother of invention (as they say), and as I considered my predicament (including the horrible possibility that I might have to drive to the bike shop – uggh!) a possible way of getting the fixie onto the back of the cargo bike suggested itself.

So I set too; taking the wheels off and strapping the frame upright on the cargo deck with an impressive array of straps and bungee cords. The wheels (just) fitted into the side panniers, and I was ready to go!

I got a few strange looks as I pedalled along – although secretly I have to admit rather fewer than I was hoping for. The funniest thing was that I kept catching sight of the fixie handlebars out of my peripheral vision, and thinking there was another cyclist right up on my left. The cargo bike handled admirably, as it always does under load, with only the slightest hint of instability from the high weight distribution. Riding along with a slightly precarious cargo certainly brings home just how poor so many of Sydney’s bike routes are, especially the ‘shared pavement’ ones – for example along Victoria Road. Potholes, grooves, curbs and discontinuities in the surface abound. Thankfully my straps held the frame tight, and I had no mishaps even on the bumpy sections.

I arrived at the bike shop, and unloaded outside, in full view of the staff working within. They too were disappointingly blasé about it, although as I mentioned before it’s actually a rather positive sign that people using bikes to carry things is now routine, rather than noteworthy. Still, I was rather proud of myself, and was secretly hoping for some accolades or acknowledgement. So if you would be so kind as to buff my ego with your comments, I would be most grateful…!  😉

Beer delivery

February 25, 2012 at 13:35 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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Last week, Toddler Chillikebab turned two years old, so we had a birthday party. it was huge amounts of fun; large numbers of sugared-up toddlers charging about, pushing each other over and then wailing, a ridiculously large cake with butter icing slowly going rancid in the twenty-eight degree heat, and a whole load of thoughtful presents that were mostly broken within the hour.

I had an inkling in advance what it would be like, as all of Toddler’s little friends are turning to two too and we’ve been to a few such parties recently. The key to survival, it seems, is plenty of adult party drinks to dull the sound of the screaming little voices, and if necessary to be used as sedatives after the event (both for the adults and the children…).

Yes, beer was going to be needed, along with bubbles to celebrate the auspicious occasion, and some wine for the shielas. So earlier that day I set off to the local bottlo to pick up what we needed – two cases of beer, three bottles of bubbles, some wine, and two bags of ice.

I loaded up my purchases on the counter, and the buy offered to give me a hand carrying them out.

‘Thanks,’ I said, ‘I’m just outside’.

The look on his face when I dumped the beer cartons on the back of the Radish was priceless; a mixture of astonishment and disbelief. He put the other things down next to me, and wished me luck, shaking his head as he went back inside.

But the Radish swallowed it all no problems. I have to say, the heavy-duty double-arm kickstand I bought for it a few months ago makes this kind of operation much easier, as the bike is rock solid stable as you load up. It was a lot of weight, which is a little tricky when first pulling away, but once moving it cruises along just fine. Much easier than with a passenger. I even got some admiring looks as I set off, with a couple eating in the pavement cafe next to the bottlo seeming very impressed, although what what they meant when they sad ‘we’ll probably read about you in the paper’ I’m not quite sure…


December 7, 2011 at 20:38 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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I often take pictures or think of possible blog posts as I ride along, but often they turn out not to really be worth a whole article. So here are a few tidbits and odds and ends from the past few months that I thought about.


One of the problems with the City of Sydney’s excellent new bike lanes is the traffic lights at each junction. They just never seem to go green, as the sensors (designed for cars) just don’t work for bikes. The RTA (who owns them) blames the City of Sydney, which I think it a bit odd. They put them in, so surely they should take responsibility for making them work properly? Anyway, some very professional laminated A4 signs have gone up on some lamp posts to tell cyclists what to do – position your bike right on the centre of the sensor, where the dots are. Unfortunately, the centre of the sensor is in the middle of the lane, and most cyclists like to wait on the left, so they can rest their foot on the curb, as you can see from the picture. The upshot of all of this is the lights often fail to go green, meaning cyclists go through on red, to undoubted cries of ‘scofflaw!’.



The picture on the left is what people who drive to work have to endure. Trapped in their cars on a beautiful spring day. The picture on the right is what I enjoyed on my bike – the shadow of the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge projected onto the water by the morning sun. Lovely.



This rather intriguing object was chained up outside a cafe in Sydney recently. It is a bike shape cut out from perspex. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be advertising NRMA home insurance. Personally I wouldn’t recommend the NRMA; they are very anti-bike, and famous for stunts like this one.




Burns Bay Road in Lane Cove used to have a horrible door-zone bike lane in it, but recently I rode along it and found it had been removed. Wonderful! It was truly much more pleasant to ride along; I could ride at a safe distance form the parked cars and uneven surface, and passing vehicles gave me space. Unfortunately it was only temporary, and it has now been reinstated, albeit about six inches wider. Sorry Lane Cove Council, it’s no better; that horrible lip in the road surface just where you might ride is a hazard; and indeed this type of bike facility has been implicated in at least one recent tragic fatality. To stay safe and clear of opening car doors you have to ride to the right of the line, but this frustrates passing motorists who pass too close to try and force you into the ‘bike lane’. Just take away these horrible things; honestly it’s more pleasant and safer without them.


I washed the Radish the other day, and took off the panniers and racks. I’n not sure how she feels about being pictured in the nude, but for your delight and delactation here she is.





These rather odd bike racks have sprung up in Balmain. I think the idea is that they turn a regular lamp post into a cool bike parking station. However, I can’t help feeling that there’s no real advantage compared to just locking your bike to the post.




PS There is a special prize for anyone who gets the reference in the title to this post…

Precious cargo, pavements and cycling advocacy

November 13, 2011 at 14:52 | Posted in bicycles | 3 Comments
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I’ve carried a lot of things on my Radish cargo bike over the last year or so – groceries, a table, teacups and even a person. However, there is no doubt that the most precious cargo I carry is my beautiful daughter. Since buying the BoBike seat, we use the bike quite often to get around; I take her to playgroup, and we go out to the park or to the shops.

She really enjoys it, and often talks about ‘going on Daddy’s bike’. And as we go along we sing and chat, and she points out the things we see (‘Doggie!’ “Bus!’ ‘Tree!’), and rings the bell for me when I ask her to. It is lots of fun for both of us, and we laugh together as we whizz down the hill, the wind in our hair.

I’m a confident cyclist, capable of holding my own on the road, happy to ‘take the lane’ when needed, very used to traffic and I think quite good at reading road situations and staying out of trouble. Indeed, I’ve escorted novices on their first few commutes, and help them understand how to ride more assertively on the road in order to make the ride safer and more enjoyable. I am also aware that riding a bike – even on the road in Sydney – is not actually that dangerous, despite what many would have you believe, and that your chances of being involved in an accident are actually very very slim – much less, for example, then when walking back from the pub after a few beers, or when playing football.

However, from the moment I first set off with Toddler Chillikebab on board, it was clear that I was going to ride differently. A bit slower, yes, after all it’s not going to be much fun for her if she’s bouncing around in her seat. But what was very quickly apparent was that I was going to ride on the pavement for all but the quietest streets.

Take this road, for example, which runs near my house. It’s one of those slightly uncomfortable roads for cycling – dual lane, but with lots of parked cars. Riding along you either have the option to take the whole available lane, and risk annoying  car driver behind you who wants to go past, or ride next to the parked cars, putting yourself in the door zone and inviting traffic to pass quite close to you in the adjacent lane. I’ve ridden down this road lots of times; it’s not especially fast and the traffic is well behaved on the whole. I certainly don’t think twice about it when I’m on my own; I just take the lane or pull in as seems appropriate and all is well.

However, I wasn’t going to ride it with Toddler Chillikebab on board. We cruised along on the pavement instead. It just seemed the natural thing to do.

This has really got me pondering how most people think about cycling. Most people who don’t cycle would I’m sure feel the same, even if they didn’t have a toddler on board. Riding on any sort of busy road just isn’t going to happen.

It also reminded me of some comments made online by Omar Khalifa, the CEO of Bicycle NSW (the state peak body for cycling). He wrote about riding down Harris Street, and finding it very unpleasant with many aggressive drivers. (He also commented that such cycling was inherently dangerous; which I thought was a particularly unfortunate bit of Whispering, considering he is supposed to be the lead cycling advocate in the state.)

I’ve also ridden down Harris Street, and I suppose a few months ago someone had commented on it, I’d have either given them some tips on taking the lane, or perhaps suggested finding an alternative route. But now, I might offer an alternative suggestion – just ride on the pavement. There’s a big, wide pavement on Harris Street, and not many people walking along, so it would be perfect. Of course, you have to ride much more slowly, and there are cross-streets which entail stopping to cross. You also need a different bike; riding on a  bumpy pavement on a road bike is very uncomfortable; hard skinny tyres and a hunched-forward position make it very wearing on the wrists. It also feels frustratingly slow. But on an upright bike, with big tyres to soak up the bumps it’s just dandy; you can cruise along and feel quite relaxed.

I suspect that that type of cycling isn’t the sort that Omar wants to do, and unfortunately most bicycle advocates, being keen road cyclists, just seem blind to its possibilities. I know that a few years ago I certainly was; it was only when I got the Radish that I started to see another way and I’ve been slowly finding out more about it over recent months. In the Northern Territory it is legal to ride on the pavement, and the NT has the highest modal share of cyclists, despite having the most dangerous roads and the worst weather.

Allowing cyclists on the footpaths would probably be a controversial move; no doubt people’s first thoughts would be of lycra-clad hoons carving up old ladies outside the shops. However, I’m not so sure that would happen; road cyclists want to ride on the roads – it’s non-cyclists who would ride on the pavements. They’d probably cruise along slowly just like Toddler Chillikebab and me, ringing their bells and singing songs. Now that doesn’t sound so threatening, does it?

Of course, what we’d really like are proper separated bicycle lanes. Without doubt they are the most comfortable way to ride. But while we wait for them to be built (and in Australia it could be a long wait) we could consider allowing cyclists onto the pavement, at least in areas where pedestrian traffic is light. It would probably get a lot more people riding their bikes than telling them that on dangerous streets you should take the lane.

Eco and not so eco…

August 13, 2011 at 22:47 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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We’ve recently started buying vegetables from Sydney Food Connect; a social enterprise that aims to connect farmers to urban consumers. One of the nice things about it (apart from the delicious produce) is the way that the number of ‘food kilometres’  is noted on each item, with the aim being to keep the average lower than 100km. Who’d have thought that there were tomato and mandarin farms only 57km away from Sydney City Centre?

Of course, I go and pick up our vegetable box each week on my bike – this means the veg gets a few extra kilometres, albeit a very eco friendly few kilometres.

To balance this, however, I also recently picked up a double load of fossil fuel on the Radish. This made for quite a heavy load to get back up the hill to where we live; I got a few double takes as I slowly made my way along the road!

Mudguards, bent noodles and timpani…

July 5, 2011 at 08:11 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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At the weekend I was playing in a concert with the Lane Cove Concert Band. There was quite a lot of logistical effort involved, as I had managed to secure the use of a set of timpani (kettledrums) for the concert, but they had to be transported across Sydney to the concert venue.

Before you get too excited, dear reader, no, I did not therefore load them up onto the bike and pedal them across town – although I did spend some time wondering if it could be done. We took the more pragmatic solution of hiring a truck, although I did ride over to where they were stored, together with my trombone and perhaps even more importantly the cake I had baked the day before as my contribution to the interval refreshments.

I arrived a little earlier than the truck, so I had a cup of coffee whilst I was waiting, the bike working quite nicely as a table outside the bustling café . A few people did ask me about it, what I was carrying and so on. I think it was the cake that attracted their interest!

Once my friend arrived with the truck we loaded up the timpani with no problems. I locked up my bike and we went off in the truck for the concert. It went really well; the second half was the Gunnedah Brass and they were really quite spectacular. Well worth going to hear if you get the chance. There was prolonged applause, and then an encore, which started to cause a little consternation for us – the timps had to be back by 6pm as the place they are stored in was closing – and Gunnedah were still doing their encore at five forty!

The second the applause faded we rushed the four unwieldy drums out of the concert hall and onto the truck, and made a mad dash back across town. We got there with minutes to spare, and quickly unloaded them under the baleful eye of the supervisor on duty.

My original plan was to take all my stuff with the drums, and then cycle home again from there, but in the rush to get the timps on the truck I left my trombone and other paraphernalia at the concert hall. We went back there in the truck, and I put the bike in the back so that I could ride home from the concert venue instead. When we arrived, I handed the bike to someone, and they put it down on the grass. However, the handlebars had spun right round when they had put it down, and when I got it loaded up I found there was a problem with the front brake – it didn’t seem to be working. I quickly realised that in twisting the steering so far the noodle on the cantilever brakes had jammed up against the frame and been more or less folded in half. I pulled it back into shape, wincing as I saw the metal begin to fracture at the bend. Still, this at least got the brakes working, so I set off.

As I went along the road, another mechanical problem manifested itself. The rear mudguard started rubbing on the tyre. Very odd. I pulled it back into place, and continued, but for some reason every time I used the rear brake it seemed to cause the mudguard to once again start rubbing. I have no idea why this should be – I checked the rear wheel was fitted securely, and in any case if the wheel was shifting position under braking pressure then you’d expect the disc brake to start rubbing too.

All very strange; I limped home avoiding using the rear brake where possible, also aware that my front brake was dependent on a piece of fractured metal for continued operation. Still, I made it home safely – I guess I need to book the Radish in for a service…

You hit my dog!

April 18, 2011 at 00:14 | Posted in bicycles | 1 Comment
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There’s always a new experience waiting to happen when you jump on a bike and tonight was no exception. I made a last minute arrangement to meet a couple of friends for a drink, and of course jumped on the bike for the short ride down to the pub

I arrived and was looking for somewhere to lock up the bike when suddenly I was approached by someone.

‘I know you!’ she declaimed vehemently, staring at me with wild eyes.

Oh dear. One of those unwanted interactions that makes for an uncomfortable few moments. Was she drunk? Crazy?

My answer of ‘No, I don’t think you do’ was ignored as she continued.

‘You ran over my dog! On that bike!’

I have to say, I was a bit taken aback by that. All very random, and not what I expected. ‘I have no idea what you are talking about, I’m sorry.’

‘It was you!’ she cried. ‘You ran over my dog in the park, on that bike. It was you!’

Noting that she had two other friends approaching (another woman and a man), I decided it was time to leave.

‘I’m very sorry to hear about your dog, but it has absolutely nothing to do with me. Excuse me’. I swung my leg over the bike, and started to pedal away. The guy runs after me and grabs the back of the bike. I’m debating whether to pedal harder and try and break his grip or stop when I see the two friends I am meeting. I have to say, I was quite pleased to see them. Relieved, in fact.

I stopped, and further conversation ensued between the six of us. The woman repeats her accusation; her dog was run over in a nearby park by someone on a bike ‘exactly like’ mine, with a bell that sounds ‘exactly like’ mine. I actually think this is unlikely; I’m riding the Radish which is hardly a common sight, and I have an old-school ‘bring bring’ bell as opposed to the usual ‘ting ting’ variety. Still, this is not the sort of argument that is going to be won by logic.

There is a breakthrough. One of my friends knows a friend of a friend of one of the trio accusing me of dog-hitting. Agreement is reached that I am in fact probably not responsible. Apologies are muttered.

I lock up the bike and we go in for the beer that, by now, I am really in need of. We are ordering at the bar when the dog-woman comes in.

‘I am so sorry,’ she says. ‘My dog was hit by a cyclist and was badly injured and I’m very upset, but I shouldn’t have accused you. I am so sorry’.

I tell her that it is all fine, but she insists on buying us all a drink to apologise.

So all is well that ends well, but if anyone does know of a dog-hating radish-riding bring-bring-bell-toting outlaw who ran down a Jack Russell terrier in a park in the Lilyfield area some weeks ago perhaps you could encourage them to turn themselves in?

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