Apart from slips, trips and minor falls, this week has been pretty much calamity free. So I’d like to take y’all on a journey back to around 1988. Christmas morning, 1988 to be precise. As a stroppy teenager, Christmas morning meant little to me. Well it did but I’d never had admitted that at the time. My mum was hollering from downstairs, in that high pitched scream that I imagine would not be to dissimilar to the noise a camel would make when castrated with two bricks “IIIITTTTSSSS CHRIIIISSSTMAAAASSSSS!!!”
Y’all know how it goes I huffed and sighed and moaned, until I eventually dragged my grumpy arse out of bed, silently smiling on the inside. I went into the lounge and was greeted by a magnificent sight! It was awkwardly wrapped and many rolls of tape were used. A bike! A red shiny new bike!Mountain bikes back then were a new thing. Most designers still hell bent on dripping them in accessories like full length mud guards, a sprung rear rack, V brakes and thin knobbly tyres. And metal shin shredding pedals. I took one look at it and thought “all that shiny shit is coming straight off as soon as mum ain’t looking!”
After several hours of unpeeling 16 rolls of Hatfield Market sticky tape my shiny new red Apollo sort of mountain bike was staring back at me in all its chromed glory, almost winking seductively at me as if to say “mount me, ride me, you know you want too!”I was still wearing my Bros emblazoned pyjamas when I slipped my Dunlop Green Flash tennis shoes on (also rewhitened with that paint pad applicator thing) and wheeled the machine of awesomeness out of the front door. I sling a leg over the saddle, put on my fiercest Evel Knievel face and pedalled with all my might down the road, shifting through the weirdly operating gears and clunking pedals. Mildly distracted by the strange going’s on as I shot down the road faster than a one legged man in an arse kicking competition, I failed to notice the upcoming end of the road. Just in time I looked up and slammed on the brakes as hard as I could. The feeling was an odd one as I hurtled through the air. Neither weighted nor weightless, I could sense movement and forward tumbling motion nonetheless. I also felt the tarmac on my face. Hands. Knuckles. Knees. Back. Tops of my feet. Wait! Where have my shoes gone? I also felt 5 ton of chromoly Chinese mountain bike hit me in the face.
Dazed, battered and bruised and crying I rolled around in the middle of the road wondering what had just happened. There were no vehicles around so I hadn’t been hit. There were no people around so it wasn’t that. What the fudge had happened? I’ll tell you what happened. My mum tried her best when the bike came and assembled it herself. But being a short arse she couldn’t test ride it so was unaware that the brakes needed adjusting properly and was also unaware that these new fangled V brakes would simply drop under the wheel rim and into the spokes, stopping it dead and rendering the bike an actual catapult should the lever be pulled.
The rest of the was day spent screaming, sobbing and smelling of TCP and cheap cut off plasters. I did get to swig the brandy though before it was poured over the chrimbo pudding and set alight! Clouds and silver linings and all that!