Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Is what lock did you use the new what were you wearing?

A month ago, it finally happened. I had a bike stolen. How ironic that may last post here was an excited announcement that my husband had bought it for me.

In the year and a half since then, it's become a central part of the family. I used it nearly every day. The school run, shopping, runs down to Kew, carrying music equipment for work, it was fab. The kids loved it, I loved it. Then some motherfucker decided they loved it too, and now it's gone.

In the month since it was taken I have gone through various stages, but now I'm angry. And not just at the thieves who took it.

I'm angry at societal blame culture and I am getting more and more pissed off with one question. "What lock was on it?".

Who the fuck cares? Why don't you just look for the bike or shut up.

We are all well aware that it is, thankfully, becoming more and more unacceptable to ask assault victims what they were wearing when they were assaulted. But I was unaware that this idea of the victim being to blame encompasses all sorts of other crimes.

Turns out, The Beast was something of a local celebrity. I have been completely overwhelmed by the local community's response to its theft. I am still being stopped in the street by strangers asking if it's been found and offering their support, my local MP got it into a newspaper to spread the word and I have been reached out to by women who told me seeing me pedalling around with kids inspired them to believe they too could carry on with their passions after children.

The flip side of all this publicity has been the comments blaming me for the bike's theft.

Like most of the people I've spoken to with a cargo bike, mine was not always chained up. I often used the immobilising bolt lock on the back wheel, particularly if nipping into shops or the pavement was too narrow for me to leave it attached to something. The morning it was taken I had forgotten my D-Lock and, in a moment I've replayed in my mind countless times, I put the bolt lock on and rushed into the baby group I run as a volunteer and was late for.

I came out and the bike was gone. We think people (it would have taken at least two as The Beast is sodding heavy and huge) lifted it into a van and spirited it away to God knows where.

Well what did you expect?

You should have chained it.

It was your fault really.

Not any more people. The only person responsible for the theft of my bike was the thief/thieves. I am no less a victim because people have judged my lock inadequate. If I'd left my bike with no lock at all it still doesn't give someone the right to take it.

A lot of bikes have gone missing in my area, and you can bet your bum that the comments will include a question involving how it was kept (ie locked)/a summary of how shit the locking arrangements were/a good old mansplain as to how it should be locked next time. It's fucking unhelpful at best, and insulting at worst so just stop it.

We will keep looking and, hopefully, The Beast will return.

So thank you to my community in Hanwell and the amazing support I've been given and continue to receive.

And off you fuck, those of you who believe I should just expect it, because bike theft "is one of those things" and that I am to blame.

In fact, on your fucking bike.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Back in the saddle.... Again


My adorable husband got bored of my whining. Two kids in, cycling is a challenge, there's not a lot of time at my disposal and Teeny weenie refuses the bike seat at the bike.

So my husband bought me a cargo bike! I'm the proud owner of a Christiania Light and I fucking love it!

It's big and it's heavy so I'm calling it The Beast. It's a game changer.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Where is all the women's stuff at?

So at 23 weeks pregnant, Rupert and I are still pedalling the means streets of Ealing and Twickenham.

Every week I wonder if I'll be too big to cycle, but so far Rupert is the comfiest place to be while growing an increasingly wriggly baby.

However, as time has gone on, my usual leggings and shorts have become increasingly uncomfortable. Luckily, I wear a rather lovely Foska jersey in the design of a Harlequins kit to cycle to work in (thank you lovely brother in law N). It's very big so is accommodating the swell. This is particularly important now that I have reached a point where my waistband tends to travel down to under the bump, while my base layers tend to ride up to under my boobs. It leaves a chilly strip of tummy under my jersey and a desperate need to wee as the waistband digs into my, already under pressure, bladder.

There's the option of pulling up the waistband to over the bump but that leaves me completely breathless as it digs into my diaphragm. There's also the option of maternity cycle shorts but at a minimum of £30 for something that I may not wear for more than a few weeks, it seems a bit steep.

With all this in mind I have been on the hunt for bib shorts. Lycra can accommodate alarming stretching, there's no waistband to dig into tender bump and no risk of rolling down. I can also wear them post baby.

But I have hit a roadblock. I can't find any. Well, I can, but they're horribly expensive or bloody tiny.

Looking for cheap men's bib shorts, you can find them all over the web. Many hover at the £25 mark if on sale or just a very cheap imported type. Women's seem to be an import from China at £25 quid risk or about a million pounds. Mr Weenie didn't believe me and put his considerable searching skills to use last night on the web. He too was stumped.

If we're all honest, women make up less of the market than men, so I was expecting fewer options under 'ladies', but I am shocked at the lack of gear.

At the moment the hunt goes on, but I have a nasty feeling I will end up shelling out a small fortune for big bib shorts.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

You're pregnant ... and cycling?!

So, it turns out a teenie weenie will be joining the family in August.

I found out in January and, for the moment, am continuing to cycle into work. I am 14 weeks and, as I carry high so am looking fairly obviously with child.

I suppose I was expecting a few raised eyebrows but there have been more than a few incredulous 'you're still cycling?!'s. And it's getting old pretty quickly.

I cycle about 8.5 miles to work, it's not a huge distance if you're a regular pedaller and as one, it counts as moderate exercise. I'm not a racer on the road, I don't weave in traffic and I like to think I'm pretty sensible and risk averse. Perhaps if I had another option I'd take it, but public transport takes about 1hr 45mins because it's three buses and costs a small fortune. My bike ride takes about 40 minutes. Bit of a no-brainer there.

In the years I've been cycling on the road I've done about 6,000 miles, I did 5,000 on Reg alone (I know because I never reset his odometer). I have had one car collision in that time. It was in heavy rain and low visibility. It was, shockingly, four years ago and, in that time, I have gained a huge amount of experience and a reflective belt.

Since getting the news about the impending arrival I've changed my habits. I no longer attempt the Chertsey Road roundabout (I promised Mr Weenie) and, instead, use the bike/pedestrian crossings either side. I am far less likely to come past the inside of lorries and buses even if there's a lot of room and, when the light improves, I may well choose to go via the canal and Syon Park to skip large sections of road.

The most likely way to be killed while pregnant is in a car accident, yet no one tells you not to get in a car while pregnant. People are hit crossing the roads every day, but no one tells you not to while pregnant.

I get that not everyone wants to cycle while pregnant and I totally support their choice, I just wish people would stop questioning mine.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Angry man in an Audi

I appreciate it must be frustrating when a cyclist is ahead of you on a narrow road. Perhaps you're in a rush and need to get somewhere. However...

Sitting on your horn and making patronising wafting gestures while laughing at your own cleverness is not a good look.

When the cyclist then overtakes and is in the bike box in front of you at a red light and sets off at a (perhaps deliberately) slow pace but at a wide junction at which you could easily overtake her, it is perhaps inadvisable to pull up alongside her, and, while still driving across the cross-hatched junction, lean across the passenger seat looking through the side window and not at the road and shout that she's something along the lines of a f***ing bitch and that you hope she is knocked off her bike and killed.

This is particularly not nice when your child is in the passenger seat and looks terrified and more than a little embarrassed at your behaviour.

My only consolation is that, following your appalling behaviour, I followed at a distance as we were going down the same rat run. Watching you nearly take your rear bumper off as you went far too fast over the speed bumps in an attempt to leave me in your wake was quite something and I was perfectly placed to enjoy the view.