Over the last few weeks or months I’ve been toying with the idea of upgrading from my Pashley 26 (Holy Roller) to a more modern higher spec. MUni.
A few days ago, I posted a threadin haec foro seeking guidance on which would be most appropriate. I was persuaded to go for the well known brand named after “the man himself” (KH) although I am not normally brand-minded. I plumped for the XC - that’s the lighter of the two high spec KH 24s. It has a 2.5" tyre instead of 3", and I think it has a lighter rim.
Order placed Tuesday evening. The parcel arrives at work on Thursday. I arrive back at the office from lunch to be told, “Your flat pack furniture has arrived.” I carry/drag the larger-than-expected box through to my own office and wonder how I’m going to get it home.
My team manager arrives, sees the box and is jubilant - he’s been waiting for the two new PC tower units to arrive for the last few weeks. I disappoint and perplex him by explaining that it is not a box of computer equipment, but a cross country unicycle, and that his expenses will be reduced as a result of his new company vehicle. We work for the Co-Op so the story is so nearly plausible that he looks just a bit worried.
I finish work later than expected, and then drag/carry the box to the lift, then through the lobby, down the stairwell to the carpark, and up the next set of steps. Brilliant: a KH uni and I’ve done two flights of steps before it’s even out of the box. How cool is that?
Now, the dilemma. I have to go home on a 125 cc Vespa scooter.
The box is much much bigger than expected. The uni is a 24, right? So the box should be about two feet across… and as every skoolboy kno, a foot is about the length of a, well, that’s why women can’t park because men tell them that that’s about a foot…
I have with my scooter, two climbing slings - webbing straps - and plan A is to loop these through the packing straps on the box, and wear the box like a rucksack.
Fine, it works - until I sit on the scooter. The box is very large and heavy, and it won’t rest comfortably on the pillion seat. I start the engine, ride experimentally round the car park, and the box falls off the pillion seat, and hangs against my side like a satchel. It’s weight is pulling on my other shoulder, but I feel reasonably stable.
Plan B, of course, is to ride home on the uni with the scooter strapped to my back…
So, I decide to go for Plan A(i) which is riding the scooter with the massive box (I think it’s growing!) hanging at my side.
In the rush hour.
So I get to the first traffic jam.
Where normally I would filter past the cars, sneering superciliously, I have to wait. At this speed, my 10 minute journey could last 40 minutes, and the box is getting heavier and heavier. I do a quick calculation. At this rate of exponential growth, by the time I get home, the box will be taller than Nelson’s column, and weigh as much as four London Buses. The bruise on my shoulder will be the size of a football pitch. (Note for foreign readers - these are standard British units of measurement.)
Finally I reach some faster flowing traffic. Common sense prevails and I keep the speed down to about 20 mph, but there is a headwind, and the box has a large flat side, and aerodynamics come into play. People at bus stops stare open-mouthed as a scooter buzzes past with a large cardboard kite looping and swooping alongside it.
This is no fun. I decide to avoid the main roads and filter through the back roads. This adds distance and time to my journey. It also adds traffic calming - that’s what we call those bumps that don’t make me any calmer, and do nothing whatsoever to stop kids in stolen cars from driving them really fast at 1:30 a.m. Each bump jerks the weight of the box down onto my shoulder, and things are getting bad.
And then my mobile rings. It is on silent (thank goodness - the ring tone is really annoying) but also on vibrate, and it is in my shirt pocket, buzzing away against my nipple, irritatingly. Whoever it is must leave a message, because it immediately rings again. Vodaphone 121 always does that: it rings you back about 30 seconds after you’ve just been unable to answer the phone, to see if you were pretending. Then I get a text. By now, I have a sore shoulder, a tingly nipple (so it’s not all bad) and a foul mood.
But at last I get home. Check my (unimportant) message, then carry the box in. With great ceremony, I cut the packing straps to reveal the magnificence of the Duro 3" tyre. Out comes the frame, with the beautiful braze-on brake fittings…
It’s the wrong model. After all that thought, I ordered the lighter XC, and I’ve been sent the heavier MUni.
Crestfallen, I swear.
Curiosity gets the better of me. I take all the bits out, match them up, tentatively bolt them together.
It’s actually quite fiddly to assemble because all the parts fit so snugly - almost too snugly because of the paint - and it is difficult not to strip the threads in the bearing clamps. Finally, it goes together, except for the seat post, which is several “feet” long. I try to pull it out, and it is stuck; I give it a twist, and it comes out, the bottom inch or so with a tell-tale zigzag scrawk.
Looks like I’ll have to keep it.
And the tyre does look sort of macho.
And the Holy Roller’s a 2.4" section anyway, and better for cross country than serious mud plugging… and think how it’d go with shorter cranks…
So the KH with the 3" tyre stays. Final answer, Kris.
And it took me three goes and a broken hacksaw blade to cut that bloody seat post to the right length.
First write up some time this weekend…