Ragtime Cyclist column

Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.
Cyclists take advantage of the good weather.

Those of us who ride a bike: we’ve all done it.

You’ve been out for a ride in the rain, made it home in one piece, and you’re feeling pretty pleased with yourself, so you sling your bike in the shed and head indoors for a brew and a bit of TLC.

Your bike sits there alone in the dark. Dripping.

You now have a slim window of opportunity to realise your error, get back out into the wet evening, and show your trusty steed a bit of respect by washing, wiping and greasing in all the right places.

The longer you leave it, the more the guilt at neglecting your bike will start to nag away at you, and you’ll start to get angry and irrational.

You’ll say things like, “I don’t know why I even bother riding the thing in the rain anyway, if I have to spend more time cleaning it than riding it”, but still, the thought of your poor bike in the shed, slowly seizing up, gnaws away at you.

So you start to reason with yourself.

You convince yourself that you were planning to take it all apart and service it anyway, and by leaving it like this you now have the perfect excuse.

At this point your husband/wife/partner might step in and give you the raised eyebrows; they know that you are not the take-it-apart-and-service-it type, and more importantly, they know that you know.

You poke your head around the shed door and have a little look – see what the damage is.

Even without the light on you can see that your chain has taken on a rusty hue, and every exposed part of your machine has a caked layer of grit and grime; you can practically hear it eating away at the frame.

It’s a depressing sight.

You grab the bike by the bars and rock it back and forth, and it creaks and groans at you.

And so the time has come to roll up your sleeves and make things right.

If you’ve left the bike for a week, you can probably salvage the situation with elbow grease alone.

If you’ve left it for a month, you’ll need more than washing-up liquid and a stiff brush.