Ruby Bike was feeling somewhat neglected. Possibly because I had been neglecting her. Autumn weather, and I really needed to kit her out properly, all the usual excuses.
She overheard today’s weather forecast: a bit of sun might break through the thick blanket of cloud. That’s me, she said, I’m the summer bike, right? But you took Brown Bike to Skipton in the summer, so what’s that all about?
I gently explained the differences between tourers and racers, and that didn’t make one better than the other, I loved them both equally, they were just different. And she wouldn’t enjoy the supermarket run, and she only had a beam rack that wouldn’t be great at trucking my shopping home.
It wasn’t a summer versus winter thing, I said, because I want both of you to work in all seasons. But I haven’t yet fitted your mudguards or D-lock, or got you lights, and although I’ve got you a little bag with spare tube and stuff, you need a pump.
But today, she said, it’s just the drugs run, isn’t it? Not far. I’d be really good at that. Drugs aren’t heavy, and I’d be really good at escaping from the police, flying away at high speed like the kid in ET.
I said it wasn’t like that, the drugs were entirely legit, prescription drugs to strengthen my bones. We wouldn’t need to escape from anyone.
Please please please? she said.
I gave in. She panicked when I wheeled out Brown Bike, but that was to make room to heave the cheap Chinese folder out of the way so I could get to Ruby. She needed air in her paws, I mean tyres, and I noticed the battery in her computer was flat.
Near the crossroads in the village, a police car was parked in a favourite speed-trap position. Ruby wanted to hare round and see if we could make their radar go “ping”, but the doctor’s was in the opposite direction. She said I was a spoil-sport. I said speed limits only applied to motor vehicles. She said she would be proud to get a ticket for “furious driving”.
Leaving the village, we had to wait ages to cross the fast busy A-road. Then we took the fast but fairly deserted B-road to Papworth. The headwind was cold but not strong. I realised her pedals weren’t as grippy as Brown Bike’s. Her indexing wasn’t quite right, so we paused to flip it into friction. I’d forgotten how to do it and didn’t have my glasses so it took a minute.
At the doctor’s, where BB picked up a thorn in his brand new Marathon, I carried Ruby through the gate. I don’t know how resilient her Michelin “Hi-Lite Synergics” are, and I didn’t want to find out.
Ruby rested against her very own custom-built bike stand. (I didn’t tell her that Brown Bike reckons it’s for his exclusive use.) Some folk might say this is a children’s plastic climbing frame thingy, but I’ve never seen any kids on it. Or other bikes, for that matter.
Her bars are tilted up somewhat giving her a jaunty look, but my back has gained flexibility since then, so they could go back down. On the other hand, my winter cycling clothing is bulky, somewhat like a spare tyre, so they’ll probably stay up until spring.
On the way home the sun emerged so we stopped off for a photo-opportunity. This is an entrance to a stoney bridleway that runs parallel to the Papworth bypass.
If Ruby was a mountaineer, we might have taken that route. She isn’t so we didn’t. But we spotted something in the opposite direction that looked somewhat like a dead body, so we rode gently along muddy grass to investigate. Thankfully it was just some bent metal from a dead car or something. The camera battery was flat, so no photo.
As I write this, it isn’t lunchtime yet, and Ruby hasn’t come inside. She wants to go for a quick burn-up somewhere. Because the sun has come out properly. Because the air has warmed, slightly. Because there is time before it gets dark. Just because we can.
So we will.