Friday, 12 August 2011

Help! My chain (really did) come off

Bike Chain hanging off my bike. RIP.
In my thirst for cycle knowledge and to override my Wednesday night riot news overdose, I popped my nosey head into the Guardian Bike Blog.

This time I read a debate about whether cyclists ever stop to offer assistance to fellow cyclists broken down on the road side. Everyone on the forum seemed to agree that helpful cyclists are around every corner, town or city. Well, sadly I don’t quite agree and reason being is this.

One sunny day in early July, I was breezing down Westbourne Road, Islington when I felt a crunch and my right leg and foot flung off my pedal smacking my shin against the middle of the bike frame.  I looked down to see my chain broken, hanging off my bike, dragging along the road. ‘Help! my chain came off.’ I cried, but no one was around to help, only cars.

I made my way to the curb and picked my sad, overstretched chain up. Apart from contemplating how I was going to get home, I pondered the thought that I must have been cycling SO fast at SUPER speed that I had outsmarted my own bicycle. Yes! I had outsmarted, outmanoeuvered, outFOXED a tough machine of 1980’s steel. Pass me the yellow jersey please!

 So whilst consumed with these thoughts, I stupidly got my chain caught in my front tyre between the spokes which took me no less than 15 minutes to untangle, whilst trying not to get oil on my brand new French Connection skirt. This isn’t the part of cycling I signed up for!

The culprit
I needed help badly. It was the evening rush hour on a busy cycle route and not one cyclist stopped to see if I was alright.

I had to resort to my smart phone to seek aid and find out where the nearest bike shop was. I then made my way to the shop, whilst covered in grease and was fitted with a brand new chain. (Holloway cycles, check them out, they are ace!)

I felt sad that in a city full of cyclists during rush hour, not one person stopped to ask if I was alright. I know that there are a lot of helpful people out there and that this experience may not be the norm; however I still feel that we cyclists need to stick together a little bit and help each other in tough times.

P.S. Incidentally, I made up the title of this blog a week before my chain actually came off (It was a curse!).

P.P.S. Incidentally it wasn’t my super strength which broke my chain, but was just an old chain... Pah, keep your yellow jersey Cadel Evans, I have French connection anyway.


Richard Bridger said...

Maybe it was the bystander effect - lots of cyclists = no help. Plus, it's busier at rush hour (obviously) and everyone is more focused on getting home so it might just have been that they really didn't notice.

Now, if you're stranded in the middle of nowhere and ONE cyclist goes by without stopping - that's annoying (/ frustrating / terrifying).

Anonymous said...

Yes - sounds like the bystander effect.

If I'd seen you and seen that lots of cyclists were going past, I'd asssume you were fine and had waved them on.

Then again, if you waved me down, I'd have definitely stopped :-)

Pete said...

I always make an effort to stop and ask if a stranded cyclist is OK because you never know when you need the help in return.

Occasionally I'd get the grumpy cyclist who gets offended by somebody asking if they need help but most often just thankful that somebody stopped to at least check if any help was needed.

A bit of karma can go a long way on the cycle lanes :-)

Jemma said...

Thanks for your comments, I think I will put this occasion down to the bystander effect! I know that next time I see a cyclist on the roadside I'll stop to see if they need any help - even though I'd be useless!! But a friendly smile can't go amiss.

lowrah said...

The International sign for cyclist in distress? Turn your bike upside down and look for help!

Sounds like you did the right thing though, without needing anyone's help. Right on.

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