Cycling week

This week began with a Funny Noise in my back wheel. Things fell over from there and never really recovered.


Rode to work in a calm, clear morning. What the hell is that noise? It was a terrible clattering scraping noise. Few things fill me with more dread than a Funny Noise Coming from Somewhere.

One of the chronic shames of my life is that I know next to nothing about the actual mechanics of a bike. I know the names of some of the things, and I know how to clean and oil a chain and how to put a chain back on when it comes off, but I don’t know how to fix anything important. I once clanked along to the bike mechanic not realising that my front wheel had somehow warped into an egg shape. Another time – recently – I went to unlock my bike from where I’d left it on the street and found that someone had tampered with my back wheel, and I couldn’t even put the wheel back on.

I should be more responsible, I should empower myself with knowledge – I should do a course! But there are lots of courses I should do, and I won’t be doing those ones either.

I was hopeful that, somehow, in between the ride to work and the ride home, the funny noise would have fixed itself, like how the liver regenerates, or how a sick bird calms down when left in a dark box. But no, the noise had got worse. I clunked home grimly.


Rode to work, trying to look unbothered, as if the noise was intentional, maybe even good.

Clattered desperately to Bicycle Junction at lunchtime. ‘Your brake pads are right down to the metal,’ said the mechanic. ‘The front ones too.’

Withered in embarrassment, left my bike in the care of professionals and walked back to work with my helmet. I’m pretty sure that the last time my bike had a Funny Noise, it was the exact same issue. Why can’t I learn things?

My brakes are much better these days after getting the system swapped out for hydraulics, rather than the old cables, but still, worn brake pads are one of the costs of living at the top of a series of steep hills. Whenever I’m not slogging and sweating, I’m braking. It is the circle of life.


Walked to work with my helmet and pannier, hopeful that my bike would be ready to pick up today. A lady on an e-bike with Ortlieb panniers was riding up and down Rawhiti Tce. An energy came off her; I could tell that she saw I was a cyclist without a bike; maybe she saw even deeper and knew that I’d have nothing to write about in my cycling blog today unless she gave me something.

She called out, ‘Is that a bike bag? Is it the same as mine?’

I said, ‘Yeah. My bike’s still at the mechanic’ as if she knew the whole story.

‘Your bag’s got a strap! Mine didn’t come with a strap.’

‘Oh no,’ I said.

‘I’ll look into it,’ she said.

I hoped for something more, but that was all there was.

All day I waited and waited for the call that my bike was ready, but my bike was not ready.


I flew to Dunedin for a book launch. If I’d had my bike I would’ve cycled to Wgtn airport and used one of the new locky docks they have there so that I could’ve also cycled home tomorrow. It was a beautiful day in Dunedin and I admired a guy I saw on a beautifully kitted-out cargo bike, long and grand like a submarine. I wandered around the autumny streets for a while and then, out of curiosity, I rode the hotel exercycle for 30 minutes. This was a bleak experience.

It has been a long time since I have cycled in a different city, and I realise now I should’ve hired a bike and gone on a big ride instead of exercycling then sitting in a cafe working and eating a vast, terrible scone.


Sat on the hotel exercycle again for 30 minutes, hungover, wondering how I ever used to do this regularly – treating exercise purely as a chore to be got through. The exercycle was one of those ones where you can’t stand up on the pedals; you have to remain sitting. It’s a strangely stunted feeling, curled feebly over the bars, churning along, not being able to rise up and attack like a bear.

Flew home to Wellington. Rang the bike shop: would my bike be ready to pick up this afternoon? But my bike still was not ready; it would not be ready until the end of Monday. I felt strangely bereft, stranded. A bikeless weekend stretched ahead.

About ashleighlou

Person, usually on bike
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3 Responses to Cycling week

  1. Naomi Arnold says:

    How long toes it take to put on some bloody brake pads! Good luck.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. readwrite75 says:

    This reminds me of when I heard of Tour de France racers who even though they cycled hundreds of kilometres each day, when they had an odd rest day would still have to go for a decent ride around because their legs were conditioned to it
    Fish gotta swim bird gotta fly a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle

    Liked by 1 person

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