When selling a bike takes me to Antarctica
My two year dalliance with an Airnimal Chameleon came to a sudden end recently, because of circumstances beyond my control. My interest in small-wheeled folding bikes was elicited by an unfortunate experience trying to take my bike by train up to Scotland, so that I could sail out to cycle the Outer and Inner Hebrides. It all began with an Alex Moulton APB21 (see post Land’s End to John O’Groats: on a Moulton cycle) and graduated to the Airnimal Chameleon, a British designed bike that has the feel of a thoroughbred road bike but can fold into a suitcase for travel. Hence the name Airnimal.
One day, however, I noticed a slight buckle on the back wheel, but on closer inspection discovered the rear rim was slowly, but surely, disintegrating. So I took the bike back to the designer, asked him to build me a new wheel and, given the 10 year old age of the bike, to do a complete safety check of the frame and equipment. With a strong magnifying glass, he detected two hairline cracks on the frame and, being an alloy frame, advised replacing the frame rather than trying to repair it. Within a few minutes of entering the shop, my options had changed radically. Initially anticipating a bill of about £100 for a new wheel, it was now going to be nearly £1000 to put the Chameleon safely back on the road. This was going to require some careful
thought and planning, though I was tempted to act on the spur of the moment.
To cut a long story short, I decided to sell the damaged Chameleon for spares and replace it with a new road bike from a new British manufacturer called Eurobike, based in Derbyshire. There was no shortage of takers for the Chameleon. Within a few days of advertising it on a couple of cycling message-boards, I had four interested buyers. A couple from Leamington Spa were delighted to add it to their collection of bikes, and use it for spares for their other Chameleons. Before they left with their purchase, I offered them a book from the World Book Night collection (Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance) which tells a story about life in Mumbai during the period of the Special Emergency in the 1970s. They had travelled extensively in India and were delighted with the offer. But the effect of giving away a book was to elicit an offer of a book in return, and within a couple of days the postman had delivered Ernest Shackleton’s South: The Endurance Expedition, the story of that fateful endeavour to cross the Antarctica during the years of the First World War.
I call these webpages Serendipities of Life for precisely this reason. You set off to complete one course of action, and you end up encountering a totally unexpected and fortuitous outcome. For me, that is the stuff of life.