So, last night at about sevenish I decided to get on the bike and go for a quick pootle over to the supermarket, to get some frivolous stuff I wanted (Pies, nail varnish, light bulb) but mostly just to get a bit of tame bike experience on the ring road.
I got on, got out of my street (putter putter putter went the bike, failing to start half a dozen times no matter what I did with the choke), crossed the first junction, then turned onto the ringroad. So far, so good.
Now. to explain what happened next, I need to give you a bit of geography. The supermarket is built in such a way that you can only approach it from a slip-road on one side of the carriageway, and if you’re coming from the opposite direction (as I was) you have to pass it, go all the way around a fairly large roundabout where two of the major thoroughfares between the nearest cities meet, then quite quickly get up to the national speed limit, then back down and off onto a sliproad which suddenly turns at ninety degrees, drops down to fifteen miles an hour, and takes in a vista of vicious speed-bumps.
As I was heading up the dual carriageway, I opened the throttle all the way. And there it stuck.
I can only sensibly describe the feeling as being like being on a horse as it bolts, but without the cheering knowledge that a horse will avoid obstacles and eventually slow down of its own accord.
With the lights thankfully on my side, I hit the roundabout at fifty-five miles an hour, and only managed to avoid ending up under an HGV by locking the steering and getting my knee down, scraping the hell out of my leathers. I pulled in the clutch – Meaning that I was freewheeling, as the engine revved dangerously fast under me – and leaned down the slip-road. At this point, I was still going too fast, and didn’t have the option of engine braking or shifting down a gear, so I had to feather my brakes. Whilst going around two fairly sharp right-angle turns, in opposite directions. This resulted in the back and front ends alternating between which one was trying to fly over my head and which one was trying to slide off into the ditch.
By the time I got near to the front of the car park, where traffic was building up, I ran out of options. I switched off the engine with the keys, hammered on both sets of brakes, and dropped the bike on its side, crushing my leg in the process but saving it from riding up the arse of an X-Trail. The bike the proceeded to spin a little bit, mangling my leg even further, before I got it to stop, hauled it back onto its wheels, and dragged it to the disabled bay.
I locked up, went to the security desk and explained what I thought was patently obvious; Here was my blue badge, there was no room to fit it on the bike, but I was entitled to use the disabled bay and obviously couldn’t walk very far. Please don’t fine me £70 like the signs say you might.
The response was one of beauty and compassion; “Sorry, can’t help, you’ll just have to go out and push it around onto one of the pedstrian walkways.”
So I walked back out to my bike, with no stick to support me because there wasn’t room for one on the bike, squatted down to unlock it again, pushed all 140 kilos of it over to the walkway, sat back down again to lock it, which took a while because the lock is slightly faulty, then walked back into the shop, wherein I nearly fainted.
I managed to get into a manual chair as-provided by the shop (And I can only assume that whoever provided them had never used one, since the action of the wheels on the floor charged up the chair and user with static electricity, meaning that touching the metal shelves, lift buttons and freezer handles resulted in big enough static shocks to leave my hands twitching for longer than was comfortable) and got my groceries. Other than one of the shop assistants not understanding that “Just really, really unlucky” was a cue to stop talking to me about my wheelchair-using-ness (“Oh, I just thought maybe you’d been in an accident. But you’ve not been in an accident. Haha. I thought you’d been in an accident.”) things went pretty well.
I got out, loaded up, got back on the bike, thinking that the prior problem might have just been a fluke… And as soon as I started the engine it started revving madly, regardless of what I did. By the time I’d got as far as the main road out of the car park, the bike was red-hot and felt like a danger just to be near. I put it into neutral, turned it off, and rolled it back to the walkway and locked it up.
Several phone calls later, and a friend with a van was on his way to collect me and the bike, which would take about an hour. It was at this point that I started really shaking and feeling terrible. Not only was I cold, and sore, and stuck in a supermarket, but I’d nearly gone under the wheels of an HGV and my bike had developed a fault that was frankly about as dangerous as a mechanical fault could get. As I played back through my journey in my head (an attempt at working out exactly when and how the fault occurred), I noted quite how close to a serious accident I’d been, and how often (Four times, which was basically four too many). I nipped back into the shop, bought a quarter-bottle of cheap vodka, and sat down next to my bike and sipped it to try to steady my nerves. Eventually, a helpful bystander brought me a bottle of water.
About two hours later, once I was well and truly frozen to my seat, and it had gone dark,and gangs of kids had turned up around the car park, the van arrived. Enlisting the help of some of the kids to help to get the bike up the ramp into the van, I got home safely, was greeted with a reminder that this was just another manifestation of how everything I touch turns to shit, then took as many drugs as I could hold and went to sleep.
Today I feel pretty fucking horrible.