Along with the heavy rainfall last week, came puddles, horrible, gloopy mud, the realisation that none of our bikes had mudguards and that riding in these conditions wouldn’t be the pleasantest experience in the world. So Mud set to and started the hunt for suitable mudguards for all the bikes. After several hours trawling through the various models available, he narrowed his selections down to a couple and then spent several more hours reading a plethora of reviews, most of which were to do with the ones he had found for his own bike.
Guards for my bike, Middle Mudlets and Muds could, according to the website, be found in Halfords. Decathlon did a set suitable for Little Mudlets bike.
“First thing tomorrow (Saturday),” Mud announced, “We’ll head to Halfords and they may have some in store which will be suitable for Little Mudlets bike as well, otherwise I’ll have to order hers online.”
Now if you have read some of my older family posts, then you will be aware that shopping is not one of Muds’ favourite pastimes, especially over the weekend ……. unless of course, he’s shopping for land rover parts and now, I’m guessing, bike paraphernalia.
So early Saturday morning, we set off for our local Halfords store in search of the much needed mudguards. I found the ones I wanted right away. Old fashioned in style but with a chrome effect pattern of flowers and leaves, they really appealed to me and I knew they’d suit my more old fashioned looking bike and its’ slightly metallic looking paint. At first glance they looked as though they would be relatively straightforward to fit, however, it quickly became apparent that this was not to be the case and throughout the fitting process, there was a level of cursing normally reserved for impossible to reach Land Rover nuts and bolts, or rusted solid captive nuts.
Having to remove the back wheel , bearing in mind that my bike has 24 gears and more cogs and sprockets on the wheel than spokes, was a real nuisance which culminated in a painful and protracted session of trying to put it back on the bike and then realigning the gears.
Middle Mudlets mudguards were easy to spot in the shop, although Mud was a bit put out to have to pay for a front and rear as separate packs because the cheaper, combined, full set pack wasn’t available in the store.
“We can price match the online price,” the assistant assured us and, to be fair, he did but he matched the cost of the individual units and not the full set which was some £5 cheaper. So beware of this if you go in store to purchase something you saw online.
That said, these mudguards went on relatively easily and suited the bike well, although we will need to find a reflector to attach to the back, as both the height of the back bumper and the position of its’ clamp (on the seat post), meant that the rear reflector had to be removed.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a set of mudguards suitable for Little Mudlets new bike (although we have subsequently ordered, received and fitted a set from Decathlon) and so Mud went to look for the Topeak ones he wanted for his own bike.
His exclaimation of, “I don’t believe it!”, alerted me to the fact that all was not well. The guards he wanted were not available in store and worse than that, the store couldn’t order them in, he would have to do a ‘buy or reserve’ online! Now nowhere on the site did it make this point clear, otherwise Mud would have ordered them the day before and so he wasn’t best pleased (to put it mildly).
Itching to be back out on his bike, once we were home and mudguards had been fitted to Middle Mudlets bike and mine, Mud decided we would go for a short bike ride anyway. Although the rain stayed away, the lane down which we rode was full of muddy puddles which didn’t bother either Middle Mudlet or me but poor old Little Mudlet got a few splashes up her back whilst Mud looked like he’d been rolling in the stuff – which is the price you pay for having stupidly large wheels on your pushbike I guess.
The following day (Sunday) dawned a bit soggy but the sun was out and so we decided to go for a longer ride. As per normal, the girls’ cagoules, my waterproof and the girls’ water bottles were piled into my basket. Unfortunately the water bottles Mud and Middle Mudlet had chosen for our bikes wouldn’t actually fit onto the girls bike and so I was tasked with carrying them both (as well as my own which is on my frame). Great!
We set off in glorious sunshine but about 15 minutes in, the heavens opened and bitterly cold, driving rain, began to fall. A quick stop to put waterproofs on was made before we cycled for cover behind a tall hedge, a short distance away. Thankfully the sun was back out a few minutes later, resulting in a short stop to remove the aforementioned waterproofs. On we pedaled and it quickly became apparent that Little Mudlet was feeling pretty much at home on her smaller, lighter bike and was actually leaving me behind, as she tried to keep up with daddy and her sister.
It was pretty hard going in sections, leading to the well known childhood refrain of “Are we nearly there yet?” and that was me, never mind my tired offspring, whose normally boundless energy was fast dwindling away. During a pit stop for water and an energy bar, Mud got out his phone with its’ GPS locator app thing and showed the girls exactly where they were and how far we still had to go before we reached a promised ice-cream pit stop which, as it turned out, was about a further 45 minutes ride.
By the time we finally got home, we had cycled 6.6 miles which may not sound a lot to you but this was mostly up hill (albeit a relatively gentle incline) and for someone more used to carting bags of compost around the garden which doesn’t really require much in the way of serious leg movements, not to mention two young children not accustomed to cycling more than a few hundred meters around the local recreation ground, this was quite an achievement I think. Of course I had the added strain of carting three large water bottles around as well which must mean I worked hardest of all, despite what Mud might think.
Talking of my basket, we have found the cutest little wicker bike basket for Little Mudlets bike, from a company called Thyme and Season and it arrived yesterday (Wednesday). It fastens to the handlebars with good old fashioned leather strap and buckle and is easily big enough to carry Little Mudlets new, smaller drinks bottle, an energy bar, her own little picnic and her folded up cagoule. She is thrilled to pieces, as am I.
As for Middle Mudlet, she wants a handlebar bag like daddys’ but smaller, to carry her things in and the sooner we can get one of those for her bike the better …… pack horse was not part of the picture painted to me of lovely, long family bike rides!