So here I am, about to write my first post on my blog. A blog which I haven’t got a clue how it will look, or if anybody can be bothered to even read it.
Having said that, as I mentioned in my ‘about’ page, the reason I decided to write a blog is to get some of the junk out of my head! so, here goes..
I have been working in Hamburg for over a year and a half now, and commute here each Monday and back to the UK each Friday. Hamburg is a lovely City, and the people are all very nice….or so I thought.
A few months ago, I was wandering round a supermarket near to my apartment with my wife, and we stopped to look at some bikes which were on sale for a crazy low price.
After a bit of pondering, my wife convinced me it would be sensible to buy one, as until then I had a 30 minute walk each way to work, and often walked home from town if we went out for a drink or something to eat.
So, that’s what I did, and became the proud owner of a great 3 speed black beauty!
Compared to many of the bikes I see around Hamburg it was a bit cheap looking to be honest, but nontheless it soon became my pride and joy.
When I bought it, it needed to have all the vrious bolts tightened of course, as it had only been assembled for display purposes, not for road use. I had to carry the bike up the stairs to my 4th floor apartment (not so good!) and then bring a set of spanners back with me on my next trip.
This I did, and having tightened everything up, I was all set up and ready for my first trip to work on the Monday morning.
I had wondered why the bike only had one brake, and a front one at that, but I soon discovered why. As I rode to work, with my coat safely secured under the spring behind my seat, I was riding along quite pleased with myself, and decided to turn round to check that my coat was still with me. this is when I found out why there was only one brake…as I stood up on the pedals to have a look, I discovered that applying pressure to the pedals operates the rear brake!
As I stood up with all my weight on the pedals, the back wheel locked, and I started skidding. Imagine the fear on my face because i didn’t know at this stage what was happening, and thought I was about to fall off and under a passing car!
When I realised what the problem was, I quickly sat down again, waited for my heart rate to return to something approaching normal, and continued on my way, armed with my new found knowledge that I was the owner of a bike with two brakes not one.
The rest of my trip to work was uneventful, and I arranged to go straight from work with my friend Steve to watch a football match in the City centre.
I managed to safely navigate my way to the pub we were going to, despite just one dodgy moment when I tried to set off from the traffic lights and thought my bike was broken, only to discover (again) that I was in fact pressing down the wrong way on the pedal. Instead of pushing to go forward I was actually locking the wheel again!
Once this slight oversight was remedied I was away again, and arrived at the pub in one piece. I decided to lock my bike to a lampost where I could keep an eye on my new acquisition, feeling very protective over this life changing machine I had just bought!
At half time the pub was a bit dead, so we dcided to miove to another bar to watch the second half. The obvious thing to do was leave my bike where it was safely secured, and collect it after the match for my first alcohol fuelled ride home.
a couple of hours later this is what I did. I turned the corner, and I must admit I breathed an audible sigh of relief when I saw my gleaming set of wheels in the same place where I had left it earlier.
As I went to unlock the bike my face reddened as I realised my mistake…..I had secured the flexible lock round the bike, then locked it to itself, completely missing out the lampost I was supposed to lock my bike to!
This meant of course, that the bike was actually very well secured – to itself!
Over the coming days, weeks and months I went everywhere on my bike. To and from my office, off to various bars around Hamburg, and on one public holiday I even rode around the whole of Hamburg virtually all day, covering 22 miles in the process.
As I travelled to and from England each week, I used to ride home on a Monday evening and back on a Friday morning with my small suitcase secured to the back of my bike, as you can see in the attached photo.
This attracted a few wry smiles from the ever efficient Germans, but I suspect they were quietly impressed with the English guy’s ingenuity!
This routine worked really well, until very recently.
I would leave my bike locked up outside my office building on a Friday evening, and collect it again on Monday evening, and for a few months this was a normal, uneventful occurrence….until last week Grrrrr……
I had to leave my bike outside for longer than just the weekend, as I was having a couple of days off in England as my son was visiting from Australia where he now lives.
Last Tuesday evening I left work, complete with my suitcase, and went downstairs and outside to where my bike was. Except it wasn’t!!
I looked everyhwere but the bike was not there. Because I can be prone to memory loss (as you will discover in subsequent blog posts) I thought perhaps I had forgotten that I had not ridden to work the previous week, and the bike would be locked to a rail outside my apartment.
Sadly, when I arrived home and walked up and down th estreet several times, I realised that my bike had been stolen.
When I walked to work again the next day I checked right round the building, but to no avail. My loving pride and joy, all €85 worth of it, had been pinched!
Gutted is not the word, I am distraught. Sadly, in this day and age like many people, I am not a stranger to things being taken, but as I had seen hundreds if not thousands of much better bikes than mine every week around Hamburg, one of the safest Cities I have lived in, I thought the chances of somebody even wanting to steal my bike, let alone actually doing it, where slim to zero.
So now, it’s back to walking or the train for me.
I have been asked several times by my German colleagues if I will buy a new one, and my answer is an emphatic NO!!
It is bad enough the thought of having to buy another bike to replace the stolen one, but my mind just thinks all I would be doing is feeding the local thieves who are just waiting for me to do just that.
Instead, I now walk everywhere again (it is teeming down with rain as I write this, so you can imagine how this makes me feel) and I look at every passing bike and cyclist with a cynical eye, wondering if my bike will pass before me. If it does I will chase after it, knock the thief off it, and resume my happy cycling which has been cruelly denied me!