Riturrrn Of Tha Track

Five weeks ago, my man Wilma went into a coffee shop on Broadway Market for a cappuccino with extra chocolate sprinkles. When he came out two minutes later his trusty steed, the bike he'd left propped up by the bench outside, was nowhere to be seen.

Having semi-digested the awful sandwich of surging adrenaline and sinking-feeling that being on the receiving end of any theft serves up on a plate with one of those pointless ribboned-toothpick things, he put a call out on his instagram to the London bike scene.

Jensenparsonss's vow to 'look carefully' and reverblondon's promise to 'keep an eye out for the c&nts' were laudable but in the end fruitless, and no white Brother track frame ever did surface. Poor old Wilma was left to curse his luck and resort to busting around town on his old school vespa, which although less tiring, doesn't come close to the daily dodgem-esque thrill of blazing around London on a push bike, as he ruefully imparted to me over languid sips on another cappuccino with extra chocolate sprinkles.


Like the apple falling from the tree and coming to rest by Newton's side, or the permanent residence of Toni's mountainous stash of bugle, legend tells that when all was thought lost, the solving of Columbo's greatest case emerged from right under his nose.

And so it came to pass, that almost a month after the tragic incident, fate found me on a lovely friday evening of late summer, cycling down Mare Street with the extemporal nonplussedness of a man in sync with his surroundings, high-fiving the twilight in the manner of a cat whose shit is kept at all times strictly on the horizontal, no doubt on his way to an outdoor screening of some genre-bending silent movie from the 20s. Which i was.

And looking to my left i see a tall man half-standing, perched in animated conversation with his homey who is seated on the bench pictured below. Perched i say, because he is rocking slowly back and forth, while resting his forearms on the handlebars of a white bike.

Ah cool, i think, as i always do when i clock the familiar branding of my friend's bike company on the down tube. Another Brother in the wild spotted out on the streets of London town. I wonder how many there must be out there now. I feel pride in my mate and his endeavour and his achievement. And then, out of nowhere in true Columbo style, the double-take surges up from deep inside me and sledge-hammers me across the temple. 

That looks a hell of a lot like Wilma's bike. 

I recalibrate, and focus once more on the bike's current custodian. He is a tall black man with dreadlocks, a beanpole two inches shy of 7ft tall. I immediately rebuff the heinous stereotype materialising in my head telling me that a black man in scuffed jeans on a track frame must be a thief. 

I circle, getting another good look at it, and lifting my bike onto the pavement about fifteen metres downwind, i focus every single atom of my body and channel my best Jason Bourne. I instantly feel myself fading into the surroundings, fusing into the street furniture. When in a matter of seconds a troupe of schoolkids and an old biddy almost run me over, it becomes clear. I am invisible

I call Wilma, who picks up. Bro i think i'm looking at your bike. I describe the details of the bike and he corroborates. A pause on the line. Fuck, he says. And tells me by total serendipity he happens to be three hundred metres away, drinking a pint in the sunshine on broadway market. What the fuck do we do. All with the air of someone who would rather be left alone drinking a pint in the sunshine on broadway market. Just as he's about to tell me he'd rather be left alone drinking his pint on broadway market, our man comes to the end of his conversation with his homey and starts moving off. Fuck he's moving, i whisper... i'm gonna tail him. To gasps from onlookers who literally see me appear out of a brick wall, i unfuse myself from my surroundings and start following from a Bourne-esque distance of 20 metres.



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