Potholes, Ponies and other cycling hazards

2010-03-02, Comments

I didn’t even see it. My bike has carbon fibre forks which are meant to absorb shocks but the impact traveled up through my arms and shoulders and shook my teeth. I heard something clatter on the road. The pump! Thrown clean off the frame.

Evil pothole

I hit the pothole square on and at speed. If I’d caught its edge, it could well have been me on the road. I collected the pump and rode off slowly, feeling for damage. Handlebars need tilting back down. Front wheel, usable, but judders when the brakes are applied.

This happened on the final unlit stretch of my regular Tuesday morning commute from Reynoldston to Swansea railway station, where I catch the 06:28 on to Bristol. A clear sky, the full moon hanging low. I’d just passed the Three Crosses turning. In a few hundred metres I’d ride over the cattle grid which marks the end of the common. I’m all too aware this section of the North Gower road has a lunar surface. My usual tactic is to ride close to the centre line, which avoids the worst of the craters.

Towards the end of last year, making the same journey, I was hurtling down the road which goes over Cefn Bryn. My colleague Chris, who grew up in Carmarthen, knows this road as “the wobbly road”. It’s straight but not level. In a car, with a clear run, you can pretend you’re on a roller-coaster; on a bike, in the dark, the troughs and crests limit your vision. Something large and pale loomed in the middle of the road. I slammed on both brakes. In front of me a white horse stood quite still. Unperturbed by my presence, it leant forward, stretching its legs, and breathed out a cloud. I wheeled slowly round it. Next time I’ll be more careful.