Ups and downs in Reading

Today has been a funny day. Let’s start on a good point: my deliveries have started to arrive – Mark Beaumont’s book. But then it rained…and rained… when will this English summer start? I plodded up to AW Cycles, my bike shop of choice to invest in more kit – this time the panniers. I went for the 36 litre Altura Orkney ones (in red), £89.99. I also bought a “bar bag” – same make – which will take some getting used to, £49.99. I associate any appendage to the handlebars of a bike with Miss Marple kind of cycling – wicker basket etc… My £49.99 bought me something which is more weatherproof than wicker with a tea towel on top (in fact it has a plastic map cover on top!), but it will take some getting used to and I don’t think I’ll be using it around Reading for the time being. I’m sure I will see its benefits when desperate to take a picture in some isolated northern location in a couple of weeks without getting off my bike to delve into the panniers. I got a 10% discount on all of that for being a member of Reading Cycle Campaign and / or the CTC. I also bought some spare inner tubes. It seems to be modern thinking that, quite frankly, when an inner tube costs £4.99 (and I bought three today as they were on offer – three for the price of two), the average cyclist has better things to do with his or her time than find a bath tub full of water, find some chalk, sandpaper, patch and rubber glue to repair a puncture. My total spend today was £135.96. I got home and fitted the front bar bracket and slotted the panniers onto the rack only to find that one of the clips was missing so I cycled back to AW Cycles. They put another one on without quibbling. Chatted with a guy called Gavin who has served me up there on my three visits this week. I asked him what else I needed in terms of repair material / equipment / tools. He recommended a chain splitter / fixer. About £20 should buy me the tool that can do all of that. I’ll pop in again next week.
Cycling back up to AW Cycles this afternoon was the first time I had been on the bike since last weekend: I have been purposefully not using the bike to give my body a rest after the daily commute to and from Henley. I felt nervous about cycling and didn’t feel at all at ease on the roads. How bizarre. I’m usually far too comfortable on the roads…

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