The one where the new bike arrived

I worked from home this morning – partly to keep an eye on our eldest daughter – who will remain another subject for another time for quite some time to come – and partly to wait for the new bike to arrive that was foreshadowed in my tealeaves. Or maybe an email arrived yesterday evening telling me it was en-route, for delivery today.

After a nightmare morning with the kids, I busied myself with folding the mountains of clothes that had sprung up around the house, hoovering the stairs and landing, going on a sock hunt, and generally attempting to right our ship in the most unsuccessful way possible. Cutting a long story short – if I don’t do it, it doesn’t happen.

Throughout the morning I kept half an eye on work email, and replied to anything that drifted my way. I also kept half an eye on the time. Where was the parcel delivery truck ?The sun was shining outside mid-morning, and I had discovered while walking back and forth that one of the stacks of clothes in the kitchen was damp – destined for the tumble dryer (the washine machine is faster than the dryer, so we end up with a bizarre cache of damp clothes that builds up over a few days).  While standing in the garden, pegging out the clothes, I turned the radio off, and left the doors open – I was NOT about to fall victim to some stealth driver dropping the bike off while I pegged clothes out.

The time crept towards lnchtime, and I e-mailed my other half – beginning the well-worn rant about delivery logistics companies being about as much use as a chocolate teapot. I was halfway through the second paragraph when a large white van materialised at the end of the driveway. A man with a hipster beard and a clip-board strode to the front door, and admired his own Jedi powers as I opened the door on his approach.”I’ve got a new bike on the van for you!””Excellent”I signed the packing slip while he lumbered from the van with the largest cardboard box in the known universe.”Great – more cardboard to get rid of”The delivery driver grinned, thanked me for the paperwork, and walked back towards the van.”If you have any problems with the bike, there is a number on the paperwork – just give us a call, and we’ll sort it out”And so it was I found myself standing on the drive with a cardboard box not unlike the monolith from A Space Odyssey 2001 shortly before lunch. Two minutes later the box was open, and an almost completely assembled bike rolled out, along with a couple of bubble packs containing tools, and pedals. The handlebars hung from the frame, dangling by the brake cables – obviously assembled at the factory in advance.

It is a “Charge Plug 0” – the most basic model made by a British start-up. It fits my purposes – commuting to and from the office, and town – perfectly. It’s a very simple bike – and deliberately so. No suspension, no gears, and no hydraulic brakes. It’s about as minimal as you can get before the idiotic territory of fixed gear bikes (which I wasn’t going to go anywhere near).

Ten minutes after tearing the cardboard open, the pedals were on and the handlebars adjusted. Time for a quick run up and down the street before gathering my stuff to go to work.

I haven’t owned a “single speed” bike since I was about 14 years old. It would have been a “Raleigh Ultra Burner” BMX. Every bike since has had gears of one form or another – from the “Raleigh Maverick”, to the GT that was stolen, and the Felt Q720 that I’m retiring after seven or eight years continual commuting – literally until it began to fall to bits for the second time.

First thoughts from the journey to the office are that it’s actually fun to ride. I wondered for the first mile about the choice of cogs – and how difficult it might be to pull away from junctions. My fears were unfounded – but then I have legs like treetrunks from cycling for years. Once away from built-up roads, I took my hands from the handlebars, and discovered that it tracks very well indeed – it’s far more stable than my previous bike (I have no idea how a bike designer goes about achieving something like that – I imagine it’s a black art, not unlike making a teapot spout that doesn’t dribble).

One observation – discovered after another mile or so – was that the bike feels very different when standing up than any bike I’ve had previously. I’m not sure if it’s geometry, stiffness, or the lack of forks – but it felt very strange. Something to get used to.

On the way home from work this evening I found myself grinning while cycling along. I can’t remember doing that for years, and shook my head at my own idiocy.

Hopefully one weekend soon I’ll take it out for a longer run, and have more thoughts – but for now – for it’s intended purpose – the Charge Plug 0 is nigh on perfect.

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