Registering That Empty Space...

 

My 9th bicycle has been stolen, and I am angry. I heave a deep sigh when passports, phones, money and jackets are nicked, but it is always the bike that stings. My van barrel-rolled down the side of a hill, my car was totaled when parked on the street, and my scooter was chewed up by a truck. But none of those things felt more like a slap in the face than last week, when I registered that empty space where my bike once was.

 

 

Like many Londoners, I have experienced the full range of bike thievery. From mindlessly leaving a lovely blue Raleigh unlocked and unguarded, to emerging a little sauced from the pub, scratching my head and slowly realising that the entire segment of railing to which my bike had been attached, had been removed and placed in a truck. They have their ways these thieves. Their wily ways.

 

 

The incident that hurt the most occurred when I locked my bike up for half an hour outside Ravenscourt Park tube station (never lock your bike up outside Ravenscourt Park tube station). At this point my knee injury (see scooter above) meant I couldn’t walk without considerable pain, but I could cycle to my hearts content. Not to be overly dramatic, but when that bike was stolen I felt like someone had robbed me of a wheelchair. I limped awkwardly home, crying and cursing the scumbag who had just made a quick £80. 

 

 

Keep that in mind when I tell you that today, I nearly did a very bad thing. I have been riding my chopper since my last bike was pilfered. Yes, it looks awesome, yes I pick up guys left right and center, but it is incredibly slow, it can’t manage hills and lets be honest… I look like a bit of a dick. And so today, I took to Gumtree to navigate the sea of stolen bikes. I told myself it was just for a little peek, but I was soon deep in negotiation with Mathew, a 17 yr old from Kilburn. Luckily for me, his wife had recently purchased a Specialized Sirrus Sport and wanted to immediately rid herself of it for a quarter of the price. I was all ready for the rendezvous, money withdrawn, morals ignored. 

 

 

 

And then Mathew cancelled; the Sirrus had been sold. And you know, I felt only relief. What had I become? I had been about to propagate the very activity that had caused so many angry, long walks home, so many internal rants and imagined punched-in faces. I was about to give Mathew £120, and without a moments thought to the miserable, bikeless being who’s ride it rightly was… shame on me. 

 

 

So I ask myself why, why is quite so outrageous when your bike gets stolen? Why am I merely miffed when my phone gets nicked? It is because my bike is not just another possession. I have visited more places and seen more things on my bike than with anything else I own, or any one person I know. The focused image of my feet revolving as the ground shoots by in a blur is more familiar than my front door. When things get euphoric, I am inevitably rolling through an interestingly lit landscape on two wheels. When I am angry, a fierce ride makes me feel better. My bicycle enables me to go exactly where I want, when I want. I am not at the mercy of train times and expensive oyster cards, nor am I limited to the slow speed my own two legs can muster. I know what I sound like, and no, I do not want to have sex with my bike, but please allow me to be pretty fucking pissed off when it gets nicked.

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