You could say that I am overly cautious when it comes to a few things. For example, I now bike with my mouth clamped shut, as if someone had superglued my teeth together, after someone I know swallowed a mosquito while they were biking. This over-cautiousness also comes into play when I use my bike, because I always need to lock it. So, an ordinary Tuesday evening finds me crawling about a bike shed.
Last week, at about a quarter to seven on Tuesday, I wheeled my bike towards the crowded bike shed. Bicycles of all sizes and colours were clustered together and I hoped there would be a free spot left for mine. Craning my neck, I looked along the row of bikes… and… ah! There was one spot left. I quickly led my bike towards it, and carefully wedged it between two other bikes. Then, I stood by the back wheel of my bike. Now came the difficult part. I took a deep breath, sucked my stomach in, and edged between my bike and the one beside it. Stretching my arm out, I grabbed my bicycle lock (which, made of metal, weighs about a ton) from the basket and stood with it in one hand, keys in the other. There I stood between two bikes, clutching a hefty lock, with almost no space to lock my bicycle. I glanced at my watch; it was ten to seven – ten minutes until my piano class started.
‘Okay…’ I thought. ‘I can do this.’ A little dubiously, I edged forward some more, then paused again. Could I reach over the handlebars and somehow…? Or reach under them and… No. This way wouldn’t work. I would have to try something else. Without any other choices at hand, I grabbed the frame of my bike and slowly lowered myself to the ground. I began inching towards the front wheel, pebbles digging into my knees. The bike shed was surrounded by houses including an apartment with its windows right behind me. I glanced towards it, hoping no one could see me as I ducked under the handlebars. Pausing there, I unlocked the bike lock so that I could attach it to the metal frame of the shed.
One hand gripping the bike frame, I managed to sling one end of the lock over the metal frame. I pushed it over the wheel. So far so good. Now, to get it through a gap between the spokes. I tried to get hold of the end of the lock and pull it through the wheel, but my fingertips could barely reach it. Stretching my arm further, I reached again, and caught it between the tips of my middle and ring finger. ‘Okay… better than nothing.’ Trying not to lose my hold, I tried to pull the lock through a gap in the spokes, but the lock wasn’t long enough. It certainly wasn’t light enough for me to pull it further. So, with my other hand, I reached to the other end of the lock, which was hanging by the other side of the wheel, and pushed it forward with my fingertips. With my other, I again tried to pull the end through the spokes. Mid-pull, I heard the sound of a car and froze. ‘Please don’t see me!’ I prayed, convinced he would surely think I was a bicycle thief, slinking about a bike shed as I was. As the car left, I heaved a sigh of relief and resumed my task and finally, I managed to pull the ends together and lock my bike.
The crawl backwards was a bit more difficult. I scrabbled my way under the handlebars, and, grabbing the frame once more, put my weight on that hand as I heaved myself up. Hastily, I glanced at my watch. I had about five minutes left. Dusting my trousers, I grabbed my things and headed off to my piano class.