Saturday, May 3, 2014

Marahau Hill

My current lunchtime ride is the Marahau Hill loop, a chirpy hour and twenty minutes which you can only do in the spring and autumn. In the winter it's too icy and in the summer the merry young tourists fling beer bottles from their motorcars in approximately inverse proportion to their neuronal makeup. At the moment it's wonderful. The hill is a seventeen minute upward grind from which you will correctly deduce my feeble fitness levels cos the young athletes do it in fourteen or less. Down t'other side it's five adrenaline-filled minutes of alternating front and back brakes lest the heat from the rims swells the tyre over the bead. Three times this has happened to me and I do not wish to experience it again. When you get to the bottom there's always a gentle onshore headwind, and then you turn off to Split Apple and along the alpine road to Kaiteri, the hilly bits now mild and pleasant in contrast to the Hill itself.

The other day I happened on a new and interesting sight. Some small girls were carving graffiti into one of the many sandstone bluffs before Kaiteri. The interesting sight wasn't the small girls: it was their parents, parked at the side of the road and standing watching them deface the countryside with evident pride and pleasure. I do not know who they were, but I'm prepared to hazard a guess that they were the sort of parents who would christen their daughters Ella, Chelsea and Sophie Madison Hill.

I don't think they'd call their daughters Ben O'Connor,
and not many parents would burden a girl with the name Josh Hughes Is Gay.

And on a not-entirely unrelated topic, I'm moved to confirm that it was indeed Kairn who made off with the pink infant's bike. - The pink bike of the infant, not the bike of the pink infants, though mayhap the infant was pink too. - They often are. - Kairn had dropped in on me, all unexpected, last week. He knocked on the door - actually knocked - and asked if I had any work for him. Alas I couldn't help in that respect, but I enquired as to how his bike was, and he showed me it, a black gentleman's mountain bicycle, though - from the evidence of the mis-matched and non-functional gear changers, not a perfectly good one. He said he used it just for work in case anyone took it, and he had a perfectly good one at home, except for the crippled back wheel. I suggested he drop it in on me and I'd fix the back wheel for him. But he didn't. And the last four days I passed his work-bike flung up against a gate at the foot of Marahau Hill, and I did wonder if his new job was systematically hunting pigs up the gully below the quarry.

Now it happens that Ron, whose bike I fix whenever it goes wrong, had recently given me his son's old bike which he would otherwise have thrown onto the town dump. "Can you really use it?" he'd asked, and I assured him that if I couldn't, I could probably take bits off it for spares. However with Kairn in mind I had pumped up the tyres and left it tucked well inside the overhang of the shed by the driveway. And this afternoon, just as I finished raking the lawn, I caught a glimpse of a boy in a hoodie going past on a bike, and, with that instantaneous recognition that develops in all cycling aficionados, I felt sure it was Ron's son's bike. Had the rider seen me? A few minutes passed, and there was a screech of brakes and some talking and my wife called out that I had a visitor.

It was Kairn.

"Um, I just found this bike round the back of your shed. I thought it might be yours so I brought it round for you." Kairn doesn't have the highest of IQs. In fact I don't think he has an IQ at all.
"Yes, I think it is," I said, not troubling him with the information that he could only have found it had he been inside the shed at the time. "Do you want it?"
"Oh, I was wanting to borrow something to go into town."
"I saw your work bike at the bottom of Marahau Hill the other day."
"Uh, Blackie took it. He said it was at the bottom of the hill."
I did not ask who Blackie might have been, but said "You can have that one if you like. It was given to me. But the bottom bracket's loose, so if it's too bad bring it back and I'll fix it for you."
"Oh, thank you" said Kairn, and off he went, leaving us chuckling over dinner.

Half an hour later a car turned up. It was Kairn's father-or-guardian-or-caregiver.
"Has Kairn Peter been here?"
"Yes, he came to borrow a bike. I gave him one that had been given to me."
"Oh right. Good on you bro. It's just that he's a little shit at the moment with bikes."
"That's okay. He told me he's got another bike, with a crippled back wheel. I said to bring it along and I'd fix it."
"That's my bike. The back wheel is wobbly. I heard that you can straighten a wheel by putting it in the freezer."
"I've never come across that. But if you drop in the wheel I'll fix it for you."
"Oh thanks, bro. I'm John, by the way."
We shook hands, and off he went.

We'll see what happens. And I'll leave another bike out for when Kairn is next stuck for a ride into town.

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