This entry was meant to be about Box Hill. The first weekend ride of 2013 was going to take me and Pez to the Surrey Hills on a 47-mile spin out to the iconic climb (and 5th most popular cycling location on the planet in 2012) and then back again. It didn't work out that way.
Pez, still injured from our New Year's Eve house party (he fell off a couch), was struggling. Seven miles in we decided to make a 20-miler instead.
So far, so mildly disappointing. Then, about a mile from home, I pulled up to a red light and instantly lost my rear wheel while braking.
I sprawled sideways off the bike into the middle of the road, mercifully short of the junction, with a stationary bus looking on behind me.
My knee hurt, my right hand hurt and I was pretty sure I'd massively blown my rear tyre.
I got up (the lights were still red, so more small mercies), got off the road and did a quick bike safety check. Tyres: incredibly, surprisingly unpunctured. Front wheel: Spinning nicely. Front brakes: working. Back wheel and brakes: Ditto. Spin the pedals, back wheel spun fine. Also, the gear changed. I didn't think anything of it.
I got back on, a little shaky, and rode the last mile home. In the process of this I discovered none of my rear gears worked. At all.
So what happened? Well, there was a flattened drinks can near the bike I kicked out of the way (thinking it might have been responsible for the puncture) when I pulled myself off the tarmac - my best guess is that this was under the rear wheel when I hit the brakes and worked as a skate, sliding along and taking away any traction.
The gears? The cable-fixing bolt is gone. As far as I can tell that's the only problem with them, but until I get a new one (£2.99 as far as I can work out) I'm down to two gears.
The lessons? Check gears as well as brakes, pedals and tyres after an off. That way you can see the bolt/missing bits on the road. Pay more attention to what's on the road surface when braking. On a more positive note, nothing fell out of my back pockets, not that I checked that until I got home either.
I've posted an ad and someone's coming to look at the Bianchi tomorrow morning. I'm sad to lose her, but I just can't justify keeping her either.
New jacket is great - warm with just a base layer underneath. New Merino base layer ace too.
I asked in my local Evans, to see if they could order in a bolt for me, and the man in the workshop came out and handed me one. "How much do I owe you?" "It's a present," he replied.