Saturday, 30 April 2011

The New Bike

So a while back I made a resolution to cycle from Cambridge to Oxford, and quite possibly back (although it'd be a day later). And while I've not been doing extensive training for this goal, I have been doing some stuff and so far it's actually not been going that bad. With a break for eating and chatting in the middle I've managed to cycle 35 miles reasonably comfortably, twice. It's only two fifths of the distance, and doesn't have nearly as many hills, but I also didn't feel like my legs were absolutely dead the next day (or for several days, as is the case with badminton and boat club circuits and stuff). In fact I actually felt fine, which is completely not what I'd expected. Usually I suck at this exercise bollocks.

Anyway, we've vaguely set a time to do it as being grad week at the end of this term (depending on weather). Part of setting this date meant that it set a date before which I needed to get a new bike. My current bike is OK, but I wouldn't want to go any sort of distance on it. Last year I had my grandad's ancient old Raleigh road bike, which had dodgy brakes and down-tube gear shifters and was generally a bit untrustworthy. So this year I stuck hybrid tyres on an old mountain bike and made it into a bike that's actually pretty reasonable for getting about on. It's light enough for general use but has enough ruggedness to not get totally decimated by the towpath along the river. Still, it is fundamentally a mountain bike with cleaned-up boots on it, and I definitely wouldn't want to cycle all the way to Oxford on it. It's just not efficient and comfortable enough for riding for six or seven hours.

So I decided I'd get a new bike. Then I actually looked around and found that most decent bikes are fucking expensive. Like, genuinely really expensive. I had a rough price range I figured could get me a nice bike, and it turns out it gets me sod-all first hand. So instead I moved to eBay where there are actually quite a few going cheap. And if you happen to live in the arse-end of nowhere like Stoke, Carlisle or Plymouth then you can actually get some insanely cheap stuff on free collection only, because most people don't live in such daft places and can't collect, and therefore don't bid on it.

I browsed and looked for a while, and then came to the conclusion that I should probably get one fairly soon so that my parents could take my current bike home when they come to visit halfway through term. Also so I could properly get used to it and iron out any issues. So I bought a bike. Specifically I bought this bike because it was fairly well-priced for the specs, is in what I feel is approximately my size, and was Buy It Now and therefore had an element of OMG GET IT. There was a mild faff in that though I do have an eBay account, I don't have PayPal, so Peter bought it and I gave him the money.

In the time since paying money for it (Sunday) I became something of a ball of excitement over The Bike. This was almost certainly partly down to exams looming and the fact that everyone goes a little bit mental when their exams are a couple of days away, but also because on reflection this is the most money I think I've paid for anything ever (aside from my laptop, which I didn't pay for entirely by myself). It will live in my room, I will love it and care for it. I mean, hell, I could have bought a PS3 for that money.

I looked over that eBay page dozens of times. I looked up reviews and stuff online (all absolutely brilliant non-revision activities). The fact that Monday was a bank holiday and a day without postage was near agony. It got posted on Tuesday morning, and it was meant to arrive Thursday, except I became somewhat preoccupied on Tuesday afternoon with the notion that it might, just might, arrive the next day. This idea nestled in my consciousness and slowly grew and became all-consuming to the point where I was going to be so damn disappoint if it didn't come on Wednesday morning.

Imagine that you are twelve, and that it is 23rd December. Imagine, on that afternoon, that your parents raise the possibility that Christmas might come a day early. They tell you that after you've gone to bed, they're going to roll a dice, and that if it's a six then you'll wake up to all the presents the next morning and get everything a full 24 hours earlier. Oh my god how awesome that could possibly be!

My hypothetical parents did not roll a six. I checked to see if it was there. It was not. I shall use the medium of Yotsuba to roughly convey my emotions at this point:

I basically spent a lot of Wednesday going to and from the porters lodge to check if post had arrived in later deliveries. It did, but it was not The Bike, so it was little consolation.

Thursday morning (ie. when it was meant to arrive in the first place) I happened to cycle back from the morning outing right as the Parcel Force van left the college. I looked through the window of the P'Lodge and saw a huge fucking bike-sized box as I cycled past. My first thought was fuck yes, it's here. My next thought, as I parked my bike up was that Peter was at lectures and not actually around to sign for the package. Bollocks. I went to the P'lodge anyway, in case I had other post.

On Wednesday afternoon we had something of a mix-up, where the tracking number which Peter thought was for The Bike said that it had arrived, and we grilled the porters on where it was. Turns out Peter was just a dumbass and hadn't read the email properly, and it was actually the tracking number for something else he'd bought, which had arrived. Throughout this mix-up and dumbassery we got the point fairly firmly across that I was waiting for a bike which was going to be delivered to Peter.

So when I got there on Thursday morning the porters were expecting me. Not only that but they let me sign for the parcel in lieu of Peter not being around. Yet again to the medium of Yotsuba:

I lugged the frigging huge box back to my room, and then realised that the best tool I had available to open it was a pair of nail scissors which were going to be pretty much sod-all use. So I found some proper scissors, Peter arrived, and we liberated The Bike from the mass of cardboard and duct-tape, and we assembled it. And it was SHINY and BEAUTIFUL. I spent half the afternoon revising, and the other half fondly gazing at it.

Slowly the novelty of it wore off and it slowly sunk in that my room is pretty small, and it turns out The Bike actually takes up quite a lot of space. I can't keep it outside because the only lock I have is keeping my previous bike locked up outside, and it's nowhere near trusty enough to secure a bike actually seriously worth effort stealing. Plus even if I used that lock I'd still have a bike to store somewhere and it wouldn't actually solve the issue.

After a fair bit of faffing and dis-assembly I managed to fit it into my cupboard, and it's actually a pretty sweet fit. I had to take off a wheel and it doesn't give much room for the other stuff in there but it'll work until a new lock arrives and my parents take my old bike home. It's not like I've got much time to ride it this week anyway with exams and all that bullshit. Plus the weather is windy as hell right now, and I don't want to taint my ~first time~ on The Bike by having a shit time riding through a gale.

So that was the fairly long and not-so-interesting tale of my new bike. If you hadn't already repeatedly been told about it in person (and even if you have), then there you go. I'll make up for it with a couple of more amusing/interesting posts this week.

My first exam was today, and went fairly well. Also Peter bought a new bike for himself today. It's slightly better than mine for the same price, the bastard. Though it is also a large bike so wouldn't be the right size for me anyway.


  1. Keeping it in my room does mean it's harder for people to move it 200 yards down the road :P

  2. Ha bloody ha! Be careful that your bedder doesn't report you to college mind...