The Disappearing Bike Shop

Subtitle: Google Maps approaches sentience

After all the cycling that has been happening recently, it’s no wonder our bikes needed a service. More accurately, after leaving it in a Sydney garage for three years, the Obsessive Cyclist’s preferred mode of transport, being a highly strung top-of-the-range model, said “No, shan’t” on the very first outing. So we took it to the bike shop for a service. That was about eight weeks ago, and cycling has been happening ever since.

By contrast, my trusty mountain bike, at half the price and double the robustness, was in reasonable working order. Nevertheless, after quite a bit of cycling since then, I didn’t like the squeals when I brake hard. And the tiny, annoying noise it made every time the front wheel goes round. And the fact that I found it so hard to change gears on the rear wheel that I generally made do with the middle ring only. So I started nagging The Mechanic to do something about it. “Ooh,” he said knowledgeably, “it’s probably the brake pads being worn out. It needs a service.” Several nags later, over several weeks, and he got around to booking my bike in. Same shop as last time, since they did well and were knowledgeable and friendly.

Today was the day, but, owing to work and opening times of shops generally coinciding, we meant to drop the bike off yesterday evening. Surely 45 mins between work and shop closing time is sufficient to drop a bike in the back of the car, drive it 7km down the road and leave it at the shop? We took our trusty iPad “just in case” but since we knew where we were going it probably wouldn’t be needed. We thought. Halfway down the six-lane highway in the middle of what passes in Brisbane for the rush hour, The Driver asked for a count-down on how much longer. I try to locate the bike shop on Google Maps. “Hmmm, that’s funny,” I think to myself. “I could have sworn that the bike shop was actually marked on Google Maps.” But hey, we had an address, and maybe Google Maps had updated meanwhile or the business forgot to pay them the fee for being on the map. Or something.

The street started to look more and more familiar. Both of us said “I’m sure it was around here.” Eventually we parked the car where we did last time, wisely left the bike in the car and had a look on foot at where we thought the bike shop had been. Empty shop front. Incredulously, we discussed how people who booked a bike in for a service less than a week ago could somehow fail to mention that they were so close to financial ruin that within days their business premises would look deserted with a “For Lease” sign on the top. Hang on… I spot a tiny piece of paper in the window, where someone had written in biro “We have moved!”, followed by an address and directions. At 5:46pm with 14 mins left to get there, this is not what you want to find.

Just as well I’d brought the iPad. I typed in the new address, and hey presto — the shop, at its new address, is marked on Google Maps!

The moral of the tale is, if Google Maps tells you something isn’t where you thought it was…. then it really isn’t there.

I’d post a picture of my bike to go with this post but I don’t actually have my bike owing to it being at the aforementioned shop. Instead, we shall make do with an artful photograph of a very lonely bike lock.

I can haz bike?

NB: The inclusion of at least one photograph in each post has nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that the Onswipe theme will “select” a photograph at random for my blog cover page if I don’t provide one.