1985 THE BIKE

It was at about this time that I became the chairman of the Flying Staff Recreation Club (FSRC) and so reigned supreme. The meetings were still being organised within BA by one of the secretaries and they all went like clockwork, or so it seemed. I acquired a bicycle from the club with the aim of, maybe, getting fit, having accumulated years of neglect in that department. Now Binfield is situated on the top of a hill with all roads gently sloping downwards. Therein lay the first clue which I missed. So off I go with a great ceremonial send-off with the words:

“Don’t worry I will be back in an hour. I am just popping over to Wokingham to see Dad and Thirza”.

Moya must have known something that I didn’t know since she went to say something but stopped short and a sly smirk drifted across her face.

Bloody woman, what is that smirk for? I spent my childhood on a bike and one with no gears either so what is the problem? I thought.

I cantered off at an easy pace downwards from Binfield and then a bit of level road and finally downhill into Wokingham. I arrived at Dad and Thirza’s and had a cup of tea and then set sail back home. All roads home now seemed to be like the North face of the Eiger and growing in length as I slipped the gears down through the complete range of 16. My legs whizzed around like a very old diesel engine and I covered about one metre per 20 revolutions of these human pistons.

One hour did I say? I will be lucky if I get home this week, was my muttered thought.

After about ten minutes the legs went into ‘Overheat’ mode, the voice went and the lungs were fast approaching meltdown. No longer was there this suave guy freewheeling his way outbound from Binfield. It was replaced by this total wreckage with distorted facial features and legs that were rapidly becoming independent units. You know when you watch the extreme athletes on the TV and they appear to be grimacing with pain as they push the limits. There was I with all the expressions of these people but my limit trailing about ten metres behind them. After about 30 minutes and what seemed to be about 300 piston revolutions completed I reached a level strength of road and the pace increased dramatically to about two metres per 20 revolutions as I gingerly moved the gears up a few cogs. The lungs returned from the edge of destruction and a few expletives were uttered to get my voice back into some kind of order. My legs were still in a world of their own but what the heck, two out of three isn’t too bad. The level part of the journey seemed to come to an end all too quickly and the mountains of Binfield loomed up on the horizon. The gears went down again, the voice drifted off into the abyss, the lungs reverted to meltdown again and to cap it all it started raining. For any onlooker I must have looked a right sight and not a BA Captain out for an evening ride around his estate. The North face of the Eiger seemed to get steeper, the road longer and the rain heavier. I was now down to walking pace with the rain streaming down my face and me counting every dent and stone in my path. I was cold, totally miserable and cursing the day I ever suggested getting this stupid bike

Suddenly, there was a bang and my legs totally left the planet like a runaway propeller and I was going nowhere. The chain had broken and was shredded, together with the fancy set of gears, into a million pieces leaving this snake-like trail of molten metal in my wake. Me and my infernal bike gracefully parted company at that point with me ending up in a crumpled heap on the grass verge. Now I was really, really miserable and just sat there surveying the wreckage of what was three hours before all bright and shiny. I eventually struggled to my feet and grabbed the remains of the bike and off I plodded towards home with the bike now become like one of those supermarket trolleys that wandered everywhere except where you wanted it to go. I was now super miserable and woe betide anyone who came within ten metres of me since I was not in the mood for small talk. Then it got dark! The original hour planned for the famous bike ride had now stretched to four when I eventually struggled down the drive in the middle of an Indian Monsoon and, without ceremony, threw the metal beast somewhere. Moya must have heard the commotion and opened the front door and ushered me in. No words were exchanged. Pointless exercise anyway with my voice reduced to a wet whimper and being only just about able to walk properly. Recovery time was unknown but eventually I managed to utter a few words generally related to the need of a drink or two. The bike was never mentioned again which was just as well.

Now, how can I stop my legs moving up and down as if they are on some sort of mission? was my only thought.

I slept well that night. The pistons finally returned to normal in the early hours