Sharon recently started a new job in a bicycle shop. She’s really loving it and has become fascinated by the environmentally friendly, two-wheeled form of transport. Danielle doesn’t really see the attraction. She prefers to travel by Sedan Chair, although Sharon is convinced that is because of the two very muscular men Danielle employs to carry it for her.
Here is Sharon pedalling away like mad.
and here is Danielle’s sedan chair, although, unfortunately, she hasn’t trained her bearers very well yet and they keep leaving without her.
Last weekend, Sharon and Danielle were in the pub and Sharon was talking about her favourite subject. Stifling a yawn, Danielle asked Sharon what the most expensive bike in the world ever was. Sharon didn’t know but promised Danielle she would find out for her. Below are the results of Sharon’s week long research into the subject.
The most expensive bike ever built was a custom made road bike made entirely of old potato peelings. It was originally the idea of Professor Tristram Bandycoot as he wanted to build an extremely cheap bike, to be built of kitchen waste, which is, after all completely free. The initial prototype, the Maris Piper Soft Spud Comp Triple, crumpled into a smelly heap after two days, so he threw the blueprint into the recycling bin and started again.
The problem, he quickly realised, was that potato peelings are soft and bikes need to be rigid. Therefore, he needed to find a way of altering their molecular composition to make them more rigid. He experimented with cooking them: first boiling, then frying and finally baking them. Although frying and baking them made them more rigid, the Professor found that the finished product would not take the weight of anybody over 5 stone and he realised he would have to try something else.
The prof has friends in high places, including the LHC (The Large Habibi Collider) in Cerne, Switzerland, and it was there that he took his next batch of peelings. Using the highest tech equipment in the world, designed to find the “god particle” that gives all potatoes their mass, the professor’s highly intelligent friends and colleagues at Cerne bombarded the potato peelings with sub-atomic particles, which caused them to fuse together into what is now the strongest and lightest material known to man – Spudmium. This material was also amazingly easy to work and the professor finally realised his dream of building the first bike made entirely of kitchen waste.
He called it the Speci Crophopper Pro Triple 2010. It has a Shimabara groupset, Aphid Shorty cantilever brakes, Mavka rims and Hopehely hubs and Daisyface drop handlebars. All its components are made of potato-peeling fibre. It is an amazingly good bike: light, yet rigid and, according to English Olympic medallist, Victoria Pentland-Javelin, it is the best ride she has ever had.
Unfortunately, Professor Bandycoot was not able to entirely fulfil his dream. The Crophopper Pro Triple 2010 is not extremely cheap, after all. The bill for bombarding the potato peelings with sub-atomic particles came to a whopping $5,010,399 or £3,255,687. The finished bicycle costs, in total, £3,256,982.02. Evidently, this is beyond the means of most leisure cyclists. However, it is rumoured that the former Chief Executive of a well known british bank has expressed an interest in buying the bike, so the professor should not need to remortgage his home, sell his car, wife, children and grandchildren to finance his great dream.
Much to Sharon’s disappointment, the only reaction she got from Danielle to this interesting tale was a loud snore.
This is Ristagno Compostio. He is the 100 metres record holder in the small and obscure southern European Principality of Hangovia. He smashed the national record by 5 seconds 2 years ago at a national competition when he ran the distance in 19.73 seconds. There was some controversy at the time because the timekeeper was thought to have accidentally started his stopwatch some 3 seconds after the race had been started (he had been asleep and was startled into action by the sound of the starting pistol). The same race was also marred by a tragedy because the starter had accidentally left some live ammunition in his starting pistol and had shot one of the racers, Sfortunato Perdente, dead.
Ristagno’s victory was complete, though, because he won the race by a good 20 metres and breaking the national record was the icing on the cake for him. He was later to dedicate the race to Sfortunato, as he believed his death had probably distracted the other runners a bit.
Ristagno was born in the suburbs of Hangovia’s main city, Berzase, in 1978. When he was small he would frequently run errands for his mother, Guardaroba. She would send him off to collect small mushrooms of a certain colour, which she would dry and sell to tourists in Berzase’s main square. As he got older, she would send him farther afield, looking for herbs, which she would dry and sell to tourists in Berzase’s main square.
They never had a great deal of money, despite his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit, and he had no knowledge of his father. When he started working as a clerical assistant in the National Bank, he was unable to afford the bus and so ran into work and back again at night. This proved a solid foundation for the training that would eventually lead to his pre-eminence in his country’s sporting pantheon.
Ristagno is a modest man and I am sure that if he were to read this article, he would ask for a picture of his opponents from two years ago to be included. I was lucky enough to find a picture of his competitors on that fateful day, taken by one of Hangovia’s most respected photographers, Benzino Stoviglie. So, here they are, from left to right Pasticcino Torta, Porka Grasso, Panino Crema, Culo del Lardo and, last but not least, Grande Mangiatore.