Week 6 – ‘Friends’

This week on my blog: three reasons why I actually don’t like my friends.

Reason No. 1

A brief Introduction:

This first story revolves around cycling, so I thought it best to provide some context – please bear with.

Most bikes have gears. Traditionally, these gears are operated by changing the tension in a [gear] cable. I snapped one of these cable when I was in Thailand and ended up riding 110 km in the biggest gear on my bike – it was very annoying (link to my post from that day).

Nowadays, electronic gears are common-place on mid-to-high-end road bikes. Different brands offer slightly different systems, but the gears I have (Sram Red Etap) are not only electronic, but also wireless. I flick a lever on the handlebars, some wizardry happens, and then my derailleurs move the chain from one position to another. All very easy, efficient, and satisfying.

Each derailleur (there’s a front and rear) requires an individual battery – obviously, if a derailleur doesn’t have a battery, it doesn’t work. These batteries can be easily removed for charging.

The batteries look like this.

As with most bikes, the front derailleur controls the switch between the big chainrings at the front (of which I have two – a 53- and 39-tooth), and the rear controls the switch between the 11 smaller gears at the back.

Front derailleur with battery (circled)
Rear derailleur with battery (circled)

Tuesday 7th July:

I introduced Bobby a couple of weeks ago. He’s one of my best mates, but early on in our trip to the Alps, he did something that annoyed me. Bobby doesn’t have electronic gears, he has mechanical (i.e.: gear cables). The system still works, but it’s not as buttery smooth as electronic.

We had a fairly big day planned. After driving down to where we were setting off from, it was due to be slightly over four hours and with 2700m of climbing. The three main climbs on the agenda were the Col de la Colombiere, the Col du Croix Fry, and the Col des Aravis.

The start of the day looked like this.

20 minutes into the ride, we headed up a little rise in the road that was slightly steeper than those that had come before. I went to shift into my little ring on the front – and nothing happened. I panicked for a second, wondering if perhaps I’d forgotten to charge my gears. Remembering that I had in fact done so recently, I looked down to see my front derailleur without a battery. 

As I sighed with relief, realising that one of the others must have jokingly taken it, I offered a laugh and asked for it back.

The response from Bobby that followed was: “Ahhhh shit… it’s in the car”.

“What do you mean it’s in the car!?” I replied.

“I took it off and put in your bag.”

This was followed by a very awkward silence in which I was still trying to work out if he was being serious.

Had Bobby removed my battery and brought it with him, it might have been somewhat amusing. Instead, he – to all intents and purposes – hid my battery from me, and then forgot about it. Furthermore, if he’d done this to the battery on my rear derailleur, I would have noticed almost immediately, since one uses those gears all the time.

This lapse in brain power prompted a rather significant sense of humour failure from yours truly. The solution for the rest of the day, was to stop at the bottom of any big hill, use the battery from my rear derailleur to change my front gears, and then put it back on the rear derailleur (repeating this process at the top of each hill).

The prospect of doing this for the next four hours annoyed me. So much so that I set my highest 1-hour power for this trip. I sat on the front of our group in a huff, stamping the pedals until the others realised it was probably best to let me ride off on my own for a bit.

Top of the first climb – the smile was forced.

My legs were toast by the end of the day, having ridden much of it in a huge gear, and inadvertently encouraged everyone to force the pace for the whole ride. Bobby obviously apologised and admitted his mistake. Upon arriving back at the car, it took him a good 30 seconds of sifting through my bag to find where he’d put my battery; further calling into question how he thought I would just ‘stumble across it’.

Bobby is forgiven now, but the idiocy of that day does still baffle me.

Col des Aravis

Reason No. 2

Geoff, who I also introduced in a previous blog, tried to burn my house down.

Upon learning that a barbeque had been planned for one evening, Geoff decided it would be a great opportunity to try out his new camping grill. It’s essentially a foldable metal box that you put coals in. Completely unnecessary given that we had a perfectly functional, full-size barbeque at our disposal.

Anyway, the rest of the group left him to get carried away in his child-like excitement. Each of us only intruding to display our concern at the fact that he’d set up his little campfire on top of the garden decking, with only a yoga mat as protection.

Unfortunately, his claims that ‘it would be fine’ proved false. The mat melted, and the metal box left a rather noticeable burn in the wood. Good job, Geoff!

Competence.

Reason No. 3

Two of my other friends – henceforth known as Bazza and Gazza – broke my mum’s extremely precious garden gnome with a rugby ball. Poor little fella. I didn’t have the heart to tell her over the phone, which is partly the reason this post is so late – she arrived back in France the other day and I didn’t think it was appropriate to inform her via a blog.

Cut down in the prime of life.

Disclaimer: much of this post is satire – I’ll leave it up to you to decide which bits.


Side note: this post is over a week late. I actually wrote it a while ago but never got round to applying the finishing touches – apologies. There will be another one for this current week.


Second side note: Sunday 9th August was the five-year ‘anniversary’ of me finishing cycling around the world. I considered writing about that, but then I realised I’ve covered that whole thing extensively in my book… which is still available to purchase *wink*

Tom

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