We busted out the door, catching my left pedal and my right handlebar simultaneously on the white wooden frame, chipping off some flaky old white paint. They’ll touch it up again before the next tenant moves in this winter. Minutes later we are flying down Park Street at approximately 30mph despite the speed limit being 10 notches lower. There’s a bump from a stone and a slight swerve as we dodge a reversing taxi. She's late for her yoga class. Yoga?! Doesn’t she know Ironman is “all about the bike”. Those 112 miles won’t come easy next month - and they are only part of it. I mean don’t get me wrong, we’ve done some decent rides lately, but I don’t see how lying in Savasana or doing Pigeon is going to get us up Saundersfoot Hill. We dodged the pedestrians and potholes with grace carving from left to right before shortcutting through the arch where the jagged cobblestones cut into my tyres.
We came to a sharp stop and she locked me securely to a black pole embedded securely in the concrete. I look around casually scanning the environment... looks like his chain was last seen silver in the 90s. Another with stickers plastered from his bars to his saddle, when he grows old they’ll peel and then he’ll regret it.
Alice fumbled with the keys and for the hundredth time, I hear her cursing under her breath about replacing that fiddly old lock. Still it does the trick and she patted my saddle and does the Schwarzenegger ‘I’ll be back!’.
She scurried down the street with her 5yr old pink yoga mat - a thoughtful wellbeing wedding gift protruding from her globe trotting Ortlieb Pannier. Swinging her unusual handbag she bounded up the stairs two at a time, and sat seated with 30 seconds to spare. She was sweating before the class even had began and attempted the calm and collected posture on the front of her mat alongside the other yogis in deep meditation.
Outside I am rudely woken from my own meditation as an unfamiliar hand touched my handlebars and stroked my saddle. My stomach churned as I heard the boys talking about my frame disrespectfully. They sniggered, jeering each other on and began to crowd around me.
“Get your hands off me!” I screamed to no avail.
They cut the wire holding me to that metal pole like it was a piece of thread. My safety belt. My lifeline to Alice. Gone in seconds. I was alone now. Their sweaty palms took me down an unknown street. People around were happily chatting, blissfully unaware of the nightmare unfolding before their eyes. I was totally powerless. We arrived at the home of the chubby one with the baseball cap. They cut my trusted Quadlock holder that had helped direct us to Copenhagen, unvelcroed my survival toolkit from under my saddle, stripping me down bit by bit. They don’t know who I am or the roads I’ve been down. And then they began to unscrew my my bottle cage. My mind was firing uncontrollably on what was coming next. Is this my fate?
“Let’s take it to Dave’s and get ‘im to spray ‘er that matt orange, like the job he done last week”
I felt the fresh air on my frame, cooling with me, with a sense of hope and even better escape. The banter continued.
Then, I was spotted by a man on the corner who looked me up and down. He walked directly for us.
“Hey lads, give me that bike, it’s mine”. Said the man with the mohican.
“I’m NOT yours!” I cried.
“No chance pal, it’s my mates”. Replied the scrawny legs.
“It’s not your mates. You either give it to me now for £35 or I’m calling the cops”.
£35 later and I was with the mohican walking back the opposite way. We got to his house. I quietly leant against a grimy wall in his kitchen and watched cautiously as he typed away, scheming something on his laptop. It seemed like days passed and I fell into a deep dream where I was back cruising down the Oregon coastline headed for Mexico, until he stepped outside on the phone. I couldn’t quite make out the distant chatter from my spot by the smelly fridge.
Then he wheeled me outside, climbed on top of me, heavy and all off balance. He rode me no more than three blocks before we arrived outside what looked like an Adult Shop. A3 Posters sellotaped to the door and neon yellow signs saying Adults Only, No U18’s…. Oh my god no. How embarrassing. Inside there were Asian Porn Mags, Handcuffs, Cockstops and Dwarfs Doing Doggy on DVD. It was filthy. I never thought I’d be seen dead in a shop like this. I shut my eyes and tried to go back to the Highway 1, trying to create a positive mindset, rather than the real fear that I’d be used as a prop in their next movie.
Then the front door to the shop slowly opened and a familiar face peeked around the door….
“Alice it’s you! I can’t believe it’s you! I’m Alive, I’m Alive!!!” I cried out from Dildo corner.
She looked at me like, oh boy what a crazy adventure. After she'd paid him back the £35, we left the shop bars in hand and on arriving home she took my picture against the bushes, like a soldier back from war, and began to tell the world about my escapades on Instagram and Facebook. Inside the house I met her new bike - just two days old, blue and full of pride, gleaming in the evening light in my spot under the paintings in the hall. I couldn’t quite believe she had replaced me so quickly. I’d only been gone four days. And then to discover I had been demoted from Ironman as well - that was a double blow. Still, New Blue will never be able to take away the memories we have shared together.
The following Thursday a heavy package arrived in the post from Halfords. It was a new lock sent by her best mate.
“Hopefully this’ll keep you out of trouble” she said, as she looped it around my frame.
I know one thing for certain. I’m happy to be alive.