My husband has had a few issues trying to get his exercise today. Yesterday, for the first time in, oh, probably a few years, he went out on his road bike, spending a good few minutes beforehand dusting off the cobwebs. Mountain biking is frowned upon during lockdown, primarily because of the possibility of a fall that might result in either rescue or a hospital visit, thereby using emergency services when they are stretched in the middle of a pandemic. (Last year in lockdown a Wellington mountain biker had to be airlifted to hospital after falling off a track and badly breaking his leg – I don’t know if he was charged but he should at least be named and shamed.)
This morning he set off again on the same twenty-odd km route. I was returning from a walk when my phone rang. I answered it with: ‘I hope you’re ringing to tell me you’re home and not that you’re lying at the side of the road needing rescue.’ He’s got form, you understand.
He did need rescue, but thankfully not because of injury. He’d punctured (well, his bike had), and doing whatever it is you have to do in these situations (don’t ask me – I’d be sitting at the side of the road waiting for him to finish) discovered that the glue in his puncture kit had dried up. The spare tube he carries is for his mountain bike. A passing cyclist chucked him a new tube from 2 metres away but that wouldn’t inflate.
Pausing only to whip off my red underpants and put them on over the top of my trousers I headed off to meet him, finding him walking, bike slung over shoulder a la cyclocross rider, wheel and shoes in hands (impossible to walk far in cleated soles).
After a reviving coffee he went out to repair the puncture, then discovered something was missing (again, don’t ask me, but I understand it’s a necessary bit that helps the wheel stay attached to the bike) so had to drive back to where I’d met him, intending to retrace his steps. Hallelujah, he found it immediately.
After a reviving couple of scones he headed back out to effect repairs. I heard him fill a bucket with water (I know what this is for – I’ve helped look for air bubbles in previous puncture instances) and looked out of the window. A steady trickle of water was running along the drive, its source the bottom of the bucket. I opened the window.
‘Do you know there’s a hole in that bucket?’
‘You’re kidding!’ he said, picking it up and getting a wet foot as it dribbled down his leg.
Looking on the positive side in that he’s only just recovering from the injuries he copped a couple of weeks ago when he scraped along the tarmac with his knee and elbow (ruining a damn good rain jacket and pair of merino leggings in the process) it’s all small potatoes. But, at the risk of making him sound like an alcoholic, I think he’ll be glad when beer o’clock comes around.
Postscript: we were fetching wood in when I looked across at his bike and asked: ‘Didn’t you repair that puncture?’ I won’t type his reply here but let’s just say he needs to start again and there’s definitely beer on the close horizon.