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London Mayor's faith in Transport for London's road maintenance sadly misplaced...

Boris Johnson is in mourning — for his bike. The Mayor of London’s machine — affectionately referred to as Old Bikey in his latest column in the Telegraph — was destroyed by a fatal combination of the weather, a pothole and Mr Johnson’s touching but sadly misplaced faith in the ability of Transport for London to keep the capital’s roads in good repair.

Any of us who’ve written off a bike will be able to sympathise with Mr Johnson, who writes of his grief: “Think of Alexander grieving for his favourite mount Bucephalus, or Wellington mourning the death of the great Copenhagen.”

As he rode away from a “detailed” lunch with his father, he writes: “I saw a puddle ahead; well, not so much a puddle as an inky mere that spread six feet across the road. I wonder how deep that puddle is, I said to myself, as Old Bikey whizzed me nearer. I wondered whether I should steer round it.”

Old Bikey
Old Bikey

Not how anyone who’s ridden in London for as long as Mr Johnson would react to a possible pothole, you’d think. With just a year of riding across the City every day, my reaction would be ‘Argh! Avoid!’ But the Mayor had faith in a higher power. You have to wonder if some of the details of lunch had clouded his judgment just a little.

“I thought, nah. This is my road, a Transport for London road, serviced to the most exacting standards. To steer round a little pool of rainfall was not only wimpy; it was positively disrespectful to the superb roads-maintenance team in our Surface Transport division.”

You can guess the punchline, of course. This was not just a puddle, but the opening to a watery netherworld, and Mr Johnson rolled right into it.

“Down, down, down went the front wheel for what seemed like a very long time, before jack-knifing on some storm drain or sunken U-boat or other obstruction at the bottom; and then, sploof, I went over the handle bars before making brief but thorough contact with the wet tarmac; and, boing-oing-oing, I bounced up again – as we old rugby players have learnt to do – a millisecond before the taxi behind me could organise a swift election, and I had taken the bike off the road to assess the damage.”

On superficial inspection, all seemed to be well, but when Mr Johnson got back in the saddle, things were clearly amiss.

“When I turned one way or the other the rear wheel would lurch in the opposite direction,” he wrote. “It was like trying to run a coalition with the Lib Dems.”

A couple of bike shop visits revealed the problem to be a broken frame, “slain by the rain” after eight years of “jouncing and bouncing over potholes and cobbles”.

The silver lining to this dark cloud is that Mr Johnson now has an excuse to go shopping for a new bike and plans to correct “the only defect [Old Bikey] had”.

“It was made in California,” he wrote. “Now is the time for a bike that won’t expire beneath me, a bike that won’t snap. It’s time for a British bike.”

[Footnote: Old Bikey appears to in fact have been a Californian-designed hybrid, almost certainly actually manufactured  in Taiwan. Nevertheless we extend our sincere condolences to the Mayor on his loss.

It sounds like the Mayor could have done with to use Fill That Hole to report the gaping chasm that destroyed his bike — or maybe he was able to just call TfL personally.]

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

34 comments

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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http://img22.imageshack.us/img22/118/jbep.png

(It wouldn't even shock me if this was a load of crap anyhow...; )

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rogermerriman [121 posts] 3 years ago
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One of the things that is nice with the old mtb while it's a heavy rather clumpy beast, I've yet to see a pothole that could trouble it, it lacks the poise of the roadie but there is something about a bike that will just roll over potholes, speed bumps, London buses etc, with just a mild woomph as the tyre deforms mildly...

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Niallsimpson [3 posts] 3 years ago
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 41 Got to love Boris, when you have the dismal selection of politicians we have here in N. Ireland, it's good to see one you can laugh at... in a good way!

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Niallsimpson [3 posts] 3 years ago
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 41 Got to love Boris, when you have the dismal selection of politicians we have here in N. Ireland, it's good to see one you can laugh at... in a good way!

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Gkam84 [9104 posts] 3 years ago
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Ahhhhh, Karma strikes again and the balance of the world is restored....why can't this happen to a politician every week. In their fancy cars. The roads would soon get the funding they need

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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Keep believing the nonsense...

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md6 [181 posts] 3 years ago
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Good old London roads, that's the spirit break the bastard!

that said, given how bad the roads i commute through to the city are i'm not surprised by this, I've punctured every day I've commuted so far this year (only 6 as its cold and wet and dark and I'm lazy)

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md6 [181 posts] 3 years ago
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Good old London roads, that's the spirit break the bastard!

that said, given how bad the roads i commute through to the city are i'm not surprised by this, I've punctured every day I've commuted so far this year (only 6 as its cold and wet and dark and I'm lazy)

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md6 [181 posts] 3 years ago
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Good old London roads, that's the spirit break the bastard!

that said, given how bad the roads i commute through to the city are i'm not surprised by this, I've punctured every day I've commuted so far this year (only 6 as its cold and wet and dark and I'm lazy)

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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And another one...

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SevenHills [241 posts] 3 years ago
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Karma's a bitch innit!

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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And two more...

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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And more...

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allez neg [496 posts] 3 years ago
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Let's hope he's true to his word on the country of manufacture of his next ride.

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themartincox [553 posts] 3 years ago
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Cant help but wonder had he been run over by following taxi as he lay in the road what the 'punishment' would have been?

3 points and £60?

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mtm_01 [201 posts] 3 years ago
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Thought everyone who cycled knew to avoid large puddles for fear of what lay beneath!

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FluffyKittenofT... [1736 posts] 3 years ago
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rogermerriman wrote:

One of the things that is nice with the old mtb while it's a heavy rather clumpy beast, I've yet to see a pothole that could trouble it, it lacks the poise of the roadie but there is something about a bike that will just roll over potholes, speed bumps, London buses etc, with just a mild woomph as the tyre deforms mildly...

Maybe you are right, but I can think of a couple of pot-holes I know of (they've been there a long time, they might even have their own names by now) where, while your bike might survive, you might need someone to throw you a rope so you could climb out again afterwards.

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jacknorell [969 posts] 3 years ago
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mtm_01 wrote:

Thought everyone who cycled knew to avoid large puddles for fear of what lay beneath!

I avoid them because there's usually nothing beneath... for some distance!

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jason.timothy.jones [293 posts] 3 years ago
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Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

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felixcat [486 posts] 3 years ago
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jason.timothy.jones wrote:

Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

Yes, but what about Boris?

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jason.timothy.jones [293 posts] 3 years ago
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felixcat wrote:
jason.timothy.jones wrote:

Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

Yes, but what about Boris?

YES BORRIS, THATS WHAT I MENT

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userfriendly [614 posts] 3 years ago
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Won't somebody think of the markup?  20

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arfa [849 posts] 3 years ago
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wasn't it Norman Tebbit who said get on your bike ?  3
Anyway, show me a politician of any flavour of the current lot who genuinely wants to act altruistically and I'll show you a porcine animal about to take off....

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OldRidgeback [2786 posts] 3 years ago
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jason.timothy.jones wrote:
felixcat wrote:
jason.timothy.jones wrote:

Well all I have to say is I THINK BORRIS IS BRILLIANT

Yes, but what about Boris?

YES BORRIS, THATS WHAT I MENT

"You cannot be serious."

Jon McEnroe.

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rogermerriman [121 posts] 3 years ago
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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
rogermerriman wrote:

One of the things that is nice with the old mtb while it's a heavy rather clumpy beast, I've yet to see a pothole that could trouble it, it lacks the poise of the roadie but there is something about a bike that will just roll over potholes, speed bumps, London buses etc, with just a mild woomph as the tyre deforms mildly...

Maybe you are right, but I can think of a couple of pot-holes I know of (they've been there a long time, they might even have their own names by now) where, while your bike might survive, you might need someone to throw you a rope so you could climb out again afterwards.

I'm London based on the whole London potholes tend not to be that deep, the Tarmac tends to break up or get spread by buses etc, get deeper ones out of town,

The mtb will roll happily at speed over stuff unflustered that a car even a Chelsea tractor would cause problems to hit at anything but very low speeds.

Boris is Boris as others have said it is a show.

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IHphoto [117 posts] 3 years ago
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Heart: bleeds

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eschelar [56 posts] 3 years ago
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lol, seriously? Guy rides a bike into a pothole and it's all about the cityworks?

OK, granted this is the mayor, so it's kind of a little poetic justice, but you've got eyes for a reason...

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ChancerOnABike [39 posts] 3 years ago
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BearstedCC [82 posts] 3 years ago
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It was only a puddle Boris, not hot water this time...

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northstar [1107 posts] 3 years ago
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If there is a lesson to not believe anything you read, this is it.

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