"He Wears Black and Has a Beard"

CrapBike II: The First Three Days

Toby Roworth

Jul 22, 2013

About a month ago I was given a free bike. It had little in the way of useful tyres, a severely warped rear wheel and is painted cerise. However it was both free and steel-framed, both good for "customising". Two miles of cycling on a flat tyre got it home, ready for some fixing and before I knew it I was cycling to work, doing about 100 miles per week. This series of posts looks at the results of this.
I should state at this point that this is at least the third crap bike that I've owned. The first was donated to me when I was building my chopper and, despite the brakes being liberated for a different project, took me on many subway runs in year 13. However, it was never christened CrapBike. The original CrapBike was an old ladies bike I got for a £3.30 train fare, that came without a saddle. This kept me in cycling for over a year, survived a theft attempt in Bracknell despite having no lock (knotted coax looked similar), but finally got nicked at Brunel. A trip to Wilkinson saw the new bike with a new pair of inner tubes, a pump and a lock. The pump broke within seconds, if it ever worked. Lesson one: don't buy bike pumps from Wilko. I then posted a statement of intent on Facebook: "if I can cycle 4 miles [the furthest I'd cycled in the past] then surely I can do 12, right..?" Responses ranged from "you're mad" to facetious comments about timescale. My logic was questioned, despite it's simplicity - I still don't understand why, but it genuinely made sense to me that being able to cycle four miles equated to being able to cycle twelve. So on the Monday morning I set off on the second hardest cycle of my life. Every bridge I passed buoyed my confidence, but the number that told me how far I had to go did quite the opposite. Eventually I saw the big verdigris coloured building in Alperton and knew I was nearly there. Reaching the red front door of Avo had never felt so good. Especially on such a CrapBike. Second hardest cycle of my life? I had to go home again. Seven miles in my Wilko innertube exploded. Not having packed the spare (genius) I was in trouble. But then MacGyver came to me in a vision and showed me the nearby grass. I stuffed enough into the tyre to provide a useful interface between the rim and ground and got another three miles before I finally have up and called for a lift. Two hours of my life I'd care not to repeat. Lesson two: don't buy inner tubes from Wilko.
Two days later the mount for the bike lock broke. Lesson three: don't buy bike locks from Wilko.
Summary of lessons one-three: don't buy bike stuff from Wilko.