It's been a particularly trying week. You know when someone says 'well, at least things can only get better now', and then they proceed to get much much worse? Well, quite.
On Tuesday it rained all day, which was initially horrible (think getting into a cold shower with all your clothes on, then getting out, drying off briefly, then having to get back in, over and over again), and eventually just became miserable. (It was the first time I'd really tested my new Montane 'waterproof', and I'm sorry to report that, since they changed the design, it's about as much use as a paper napkin for keeping the rain out.) All the marble floors in receptions were super-slippery, and I have new cleats that stick out just a little bit more, so I fell over twice - both times in front of lots of people, and the second time skinning both my knees and knocking over a pile of chairs with a big clatter.
And of course, rain means punctures - and Sod's Law means I only ever get a puncture when I have four packages on board, two of them urgent. So, after riding very quickly, yet very carefully across town with a rapidly deflating tube, I got rid of the packages, settled down to fix it, and discovered a hole in my tyre so big I could see daylight through it. (That's the last time I'm buying Gatorskins.)
And then, when I was finally rolling again, I discovered that my padlock had all-of-a-sudden seized up, so my lock was stuck around my waist. It took a gallant chap in a bike shop half an hour, GT85, and lots of fiddling and swearing to free me. (Another bad review: Abus locks are brilliant security-wise, but they don't stand up to rain - this is the second one I've got through this year.)
I got home, discovered that my 4-month-old SIDIs already have a hole in them (bother!), hung up my wet kit (most of it would still be damp the next day), and woke up the next morning to discover just what a stupid idea it is to lock your bike up with a lock you know to be on its way out.
I had given myself two blisters on my right index finger before I reluctantly admitted that there was no way I was going to get the key to turn, apologized to my controller, and spent the rest of the morning desperately chasing bike shops, firemen, and anyone else who might be able to cut the lock off, and fielding calls from the office, who kept saying that it was the busiest day of the year, and why wasn't I working?
Eventually someone with boltcutters agreed to come round that evening, a friend lent me a bike so I could work the rest of the day, and I wobbled off uneasily, having not ridden with a freewheel for the best part of three years. The first hour was absolutely terrifying - habitual fixie-riders will know that sliding-around-all-over-the-place feeling you get when going back to gears and, given the run of bad luck I appeared to be having, I was frightened that I'd end up crashing and writing off my friend's bike.
But after a while, things started to look up - once I got used to not being able to trackstand or leg-brake, once I worked out what do do with my legs when descending, once I got over how counter-intuitive it feels to be controlling the bike with your hands rather than your legs, once I remembered that you can change gear to make you faster (and realized that doing so made me quite a bit faster), once the cold sweat of fear subsided, I realized that riding a 'normal' bike is actually quite fun.
Eventually, I stopped in St James's Square for a well deserved rest, sat back, got out a sandwich, and told myself that things were finally starting to look up. It was then that I felt a sharp pain in my ankle, looked down, and saw a horsefly...