I knew at the end of this academic year I would have to give up my bike. My prime mode of transport for the year, the object that was the subject of my first ever blog post. Something that I insisted on writing multiple blog posts about. But I didn’t expect it to have such an ending.
Ignoring that the bike was bought for £25 and was a death trap according to a bike company I took it to to fix the brakes, and instead wrote it off and wanted to take it off me. I may have shyly mentioned I need it to get back home that day and never actually returned back to them with said bike like I said I would.
It all started to go down hill for my bike….literally as the brakes were worn and didn’t work. Come winter (a very mild one as well), I had to install bike lights as England is a lovely place where it’s pitch black at 4pm :l Whilst doing so I somehow hulk’ed off the rear mudguard where it attaches to the frame. I tore about a 2cm diameter piece of solid plastic…I hulk’ed it because I have no idea where the strength came from.
My old housemate and I used to cycle on a weekend along a disused railway path near our house. As a celebration/commiseration to an end of an era we went out on one last ride, but decided to cycle the full length (26miles) and back on what was the hottest day of the year so far.
It was going fine until we got to Reepham and we may have gotten lost. That place seems to be a blackspot for mobile phone signals, so we had to rely on a friendly local to navigate us back to our exact starting point in the town. We hadn’t noticed a hidden fingerpost highlighting the direction we should have gone in. We finally arrived in Aylsham, later than expected, and realising we had to cycle 26miles to get back to Norwich. So we started feeding ourselves with as much sugar/carbs filled foods as we could, watching all the trucks and vans passing us thinking they could easily fit 2 bikes in and take us back to Norwich.
We arrived back in Reepham very quickly and went for a pub dinner as it was 8pm and we were still a far distance from Norwich. The first sign that something was going wrong was that my calf muscles started to seize up everytime I would stretch them to get onto my bike and pedal. But I thought that was my body saying I’m a little tired here. After dinner we were back on our bikes, thankful that it was June and still light at 9pm.
We then reached Attlebridge, saddened that our favourite picnic bench was no longer there. My second sign was my legs started shaking. But we pressed on. The section between Attlebridge and Felthorpe is one of my favourites during the day, the woodlands are pretty and I remember one trip when I still had my mudguard after it had rained just going straight through the middle of muddy puddles and not caring. The only problem is the Norwich bound section is a gentle (we are in Norfolk of course) 2 mile incline. By then we had to have our lights on, it was pitch black. Baring in mind my lights are the shitty £3 set that light up nothing were able to light the path in front of us. Along this section I started to feel really light headed and dizzy. Asking if we could walk for a bit, we walked to the next road junction.
Now it was 10:30pm, we were 6 miles from Norwich. As we arrived at the junction I started to feel worse, at first I thought it was panic attack but it felt different. In the end I had to call for a taxi to take us back to Norwich. Luckily having worked for a year studying this route inside out, I knew exactly where we were and was able to give the road names to the cab firm. Except that wasn’t good enough, I assume they thought we were prank calling, and wanted a postcode. We were in the middle of no where, between two villages and surrounded by trees. Luckily I had enough internet (and actual signal) to find the nearest postcode to a business around the corner and they dispatched a cab, and lucky the cab driver knew exactly where we were compared to the phone operator. We then had to hide our bikes discretely so someone couldn’t steal them.
Once back in Norwich we then drove back to the spot we hid our bikes. It was then my friend had told me that whilst we were waiting there were bats flying over. Which then freaked me out. Although my bike had quick release wheels, I’ve never used them and I don’t think the previous owners used it as we struggled to get it open. After lots of manpower and shear determination to not admit defeat my friend got my front wheel off and by 1am I was finally at home in bed.
However, my night wasn’t over with. I felt even worse than I had when cycling back. I was so hot and for some reason my body wasn’t wanting to cool itself down, and once the headache started and I felt nauseous I decided to call 111 who sent me to A&E. It was only when the doctor had said plainly ‘You’ve cycled for 10 hours, in 26degree heat’ (remember England) and that’s when I realised no matter how much I drank it was still a stupid idea. Four hours later I was told I had heat stroke, and spent the next few days recovering.
Sadly my friend tried to repair my bike but in his words. He reattached the front wheel but the lever wouldn’t lock so it would be fine to ride as long as you didn’t shake the bike….which is fine if most of the roads you cycled on didn’t have humps, potholes and drain covers. As the front wheel will just roll away. I then donated the bike to a local enterprise called Bicycle Links, hopefully it was some form of use to them!
It seems quite poetic that my bike died along the same path that I first rode it.