I’ve just had my bike stolen. In a time when most major cities are on high terror alert and human lives are being lost daily all over the world, I know that this by comparison is not a great tragedy, but I'm very upset about it. It is not necessarily the monetary loss, or even the hassle it brings, but more the feeling that I've lost a friend. It sounds silly I know, but we've been through a lot, my trusty Ribble and I.
A few things went through my mind when I discovered that the bike was gone. Firstly, I assumed that I must be mistaken; I must have chained the bike to a different set of railings, or not actually arrived by bike at all. Either way, there must have been some mistake. Then the rage comes! “Some bastard has stolen my bike, if I ever catch them…” I stood on the High Street, near to where the bike was locked, scanning the horizon, expecting to see someone casually cruising around on my beloved bike. What I would’ve done had I seen the culprit I’m not sure; given chase? Made a citizen’s arrest? Of course I never found out, as the bike and the culprit were long gone. After the anger subsided, I was left feeling empty and sad, as if a part of me was missing. It would be quite extreme to compare it to losing a limb; I'm sure I would be much distraught had I lost a leg, but a sense of great loss was keenly felt. Like the realisation that the family pet is going to be put down; you know things won't be quite the same for a while.
Such is the bond (obsession?) between cyclists and their bikes; we favour our bicycles over many other material possessions. Ask a cyclist what they would save first from a fire (after family of course) and 90% would say their bike. It’s an unusual bond; a piece of steel/aluminium/carbon that weighs nothing, takes up a lot of space and, to the dismay of our partners and families, most of our waking thoughts! It is true that most modern bikes are expensive pieces of kit, and for most not easy to replace; however for me the emotional loss far outweighs the financial one.
It is the memories of rides attempted, journeys made and challenges completed that really tug on the heartstrings! As I walked home, far too sad for public transport, I reflected on the above; London to Paris, London to Nice, Ride London, countless triathlons and sportives Tours of the Lake and Peak Districts and one epic week long ride around Scotland. One man and his bicycle. The two of us versus whatever the day could throw at us; wind, rain (sideways in Scotland), scorching temperatures and lung-burning climbs. The memories of the pain and the exhaustion come flooding back and brought a massive smile to my face! The last 30 miles of a 112 mile ride from Inverness to Portree on the Isle of Skye being the strongest memory. It had rained all morning, from Loch Ness to the Skye road; 3 hours of driving rain, the entire Loch shrouded in mist! The Skye road from Invermoriston to the Kyle of Lochalsh was one of the most incredible 3 hours of cycling in my life. Flying down beautifully quiet roads, Munros and mountains on either side, rounding corners to find giant Lochs reflecting their surroundings in the their smooth blue waters. It really was a glorious cycle.
Stronger in my memory however is the next 30 odd miles. After a quick coffee and a panini we rode over the bridge onto Skye, and straight into a world of pain! The road snaked up and down (but mostly up) as we followed the contours of the island over the Cuilins (a rather large mountain range) and into Portree. The exhaustion we felt was only matched by the relief of sweet rest, and the gratitude and love I felt for my bicycle! Like a willing servant it obeyed every command without protest; no creaks from the bearings, no squeak of the chain. The biggest climbs and the resulting descents were taken on with relish, spurring me on and galvanising my resolve to go faster, higher, longer. The bike became a part of me on these long rides and challenges. If the bike fails, then so do I. It never did.
I’ve never had a house broken into, but people who have often say the worst thing about burglary is having their personal space invaded, their inner sanctum disrupted. They live on a knife edge, every noise a possible intruder. Life goes on after having my bike stolen; I will buy another bike, and I will continue to ride as much as I physically can, however I’ll always feel a twinge of sadness for my poor old Ribble. Taken before it’s time!
My advice to any cyclists out there is to make sure your bike is insured, and make sure you are very specific with the insurance company or bank about how much you are insuring it for, not just how much it is worth. Also it is absolutely imperative that you note down the frame number, and get it tagged by the police. It was something I always meant to do, but never got around to. If I had, the chances of recovering my bike would’ve doubled. I won’t make that mistake again!To get your bike registered click here - Bike Registration