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He bid me come out, how could I say no? He said meet me at eight, round at my place you know…Returning from our Saturday morning bridle path bash, Joshua and I set about some serious September Waxoyling. Seatposts out, our respective steeds were eagerly awaiting the hot molten swoosh of amber nectar coursing through their frames. Methodical rotation ensured even and comprehensive protection, we watched as the excess belched from the breathe holes onto the soviet block-a concrete strip designated as appropriate for such deviant acts. Satisfied with my handy work, I refitted the Univega’s post and began tightening the seat collar clamp with this super wrench (modelled here by Joshua) whereupon the young protégé threw an uncharacteristic diva fit, storming inside.

The catalyst for this outburst appears to have been my suggestion that post filthy ride clean up was a key component of bike ownership, especially seeing he’s hankering after a super shiny Cro-moly counterpart. Neglecting the torque wrench while simultaneously exerting parental authority resulted in a quarter turn too many, the audible metallic snap inducing a sinking feeling amongst adult, child and elderly Border collie. Seeing the controlled displeasure in my face, both scarpered indoors while I contemplated the damage and the whereabouts of a replacement. Spares bin rummaging proved futile so I resigned myself to cleaning and polishing both bikes to a mirror shine, returning them to their respectful places in the garage.

Retiring to the house for some much-needed coffee, my surly seven year old re-emerged very apologetic and I responded with one of those reassuring parental hugs. The good folk at Ison distribution came charging to the rescue a few days later with this very fetching Salsa lip-lock. Fifteen miles of winding tranquil lanes later I was satisfied of it’s post-gripping prowess only to experience to my first puncture of the season. It takes a lot to infiltrate the 1.75 wide Vittoria but on this occasion receding ten-year-old rim-tape was to blame for the dreaded hiss. Demon purged and two tubes successfully patched it was time for a quick transmission tweak and to order a new eight speed chain before it turned cannibal.

Throughout the summer I wash the fleet using car shampoos impregnated with wax coupled with regular furniture polish blow-overs but nothing beats hard pastes come the eve of winter’s calling. Slime and grime aside, reputedly a vampire, I relish long, steady nocturnal rides. The office know well of these yearnings and collude, sending me pretty lights by the box load. I remember buying my first LED blinky back in the autumn of 1992. Two modes, slab styling and thirty hours from two AA batteries was your lot. Wind the clock forward eighteen years and the choice is absolutely bewildering.

Every so often, I come across a rogue one, or am plunged unexpectedly into darkness (A spontaneously combusting dynamo headlamp and my home brewed Lead acid rechargeable system among the most memorable) USB charging and medical grade silicone are undeniably all the rage but mercifully most manufacturers have a comprehensive range to suit tourists, long haul Audax and others finding single figure run times ruinously impractical/ inconvenient.

People never cease to amaze me for the right and wrong reasons. Wandering through the high street the other morning, I happened upon this rather fetching Cannondale secured only by the flimsiest of cable locks, sporting the full compliment of “Gone in a second” goodies. Arguably, the rightful owner might’ve heeded their colon’s call but twenty minutes later, it looked there for the duration! Gone in five seconds and sold down the pub to gullible Gillespie for £20. On the flip side, the Univega and I had been out on a late night lighting test. Spinning a cadence of around ninety, a mile from home, the silence was rudely interrupted by the impatient agricultural rumble of a diesel Transit....

Generally keen to avoid interaction with the commercial vehicle fraternity, I cranked up the pace and swooped into the bend only to hear that telltale tinkling of an LED light desperate to meet it’s maker. Surprise turned to self- preservation as the Transit drew closer and seemingly more impatient and then…silence. Stopping by the turning to confirm it’s disappearance, said transit appeared with the passenger graciously returning my LED. Somewhat taken aback by this unexpected kindness, I smiled sweetly and thanked them before slipping it inside my pannier. Satisfied they were long gone, we ambled down the lane singing “Stereotype” (Parts one and two for those in the know  21


Shaun Audane is a freelance writer/product tester with over twenty-eight years riding experience, the last twelve (120,000 miles) spent putting bikes and kit through their paces for a variety of publications. Previous generations of his family worked at manufacturing's sharp end, thus Shaun can weld, has a sound understanding of frame building practice and a preference for steel or titanium framesets.
Citing Richard Ballantine and an Au pair as his earliest cycling influences, he is presently writing a cycling book with particular focus upon women, families and disabled audiences (Having been a registered care manager and coached children at Herne Hill Velodrome in earlier careers)

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Shaun Audane | 13 years ago

The Surly Mechanic

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