It is often worryingly easy to identify a cyclist’s house. Gate hanging off its hinges, grass up to windowsill level, flaking paint, and a bike rider outside with a bike on a workstand, replacing all the alloy bottle-cage bolts with titanium and regreasing the pedal bearings for the third time this month.
It is a question of priorities, and it’s not the first time I’ve pointed this out. However, the opposite of classic cyclist’s DIY-phobia is much, much worse.
I shall explain. My house is a wreck. It was a wreck when I bought it. I liked that I wasn’t paying good money for any sort of cosmetic quality that I knew I’d never maintain. It was already in the sort of shape that I’d drag it down to. But then one day last year I decided that we needed a new toilet-roll holder.
This escalated into a new bathroom, and then into moving the bathroom upstairs, and finally into a complete rebuild. I’d suddenly crossed from something akin to housework to something akin to Grand Designs. And I have to say it felt rather good.
I told Mrs. Doc that I would take the matter in hand. I engaged an architect. The architect and I engaged a builder. And, as luck would have it, all three of us were, to at least some extent, cyclists.
“I’ll need somewhere to keep bikes,” I told them.
“Of course,” said the architect. “How many bikes do you have?”
“Fourteen,” I said.
“And I imagine you’ll need space for the collection to grow from there?” he said, and I realised I was dealing with a kindred spirit.
And so a bike store was designed. It is to have an electric door so that I can open it as I ride up the drive. It includes under-floor heating to keep the temperature stable, along with bespoke racking, ground anchors, and LED lighting.
There will be a workshop as well, with two permanent workstands, as well as a bike-wash area.
“Maybe,” said the builder, “we should include some decking outside the workshop, so that you could work on bikes in the sunshine? The workshop faces south, so if we just put it by the door it would be perfect.”
Perfect was the word. This was nothing less than semi-detached cycling heaven.
All about the bike
I’ll be honest, I probably didn’t prepare for my discussions about the designs with Mrs. Doc as thoroughly as I might.
“Isn’t it brilliant?” I said.
“Isn’t there a kitchen?” said Mrs. Doc.
“It’s, um, it’s right here where it always has been,” I said.
“So let me get this clear,” said Mrs. Doc (this phrase isn’t really about establishing clarity, it’s more like a domestic air-raid warning siren).
“The bikes get under-floor heating, LED lighting, automatic doors, a custom-built wet room and, although I can’t quite believe I’m saying this, their own sun deck, and the rest of the house stays exactly as it was?”
I had to concede that to the architecturally unsophisticated eye that might appear to be the case. “But I promise, absolutely, that the toilet-roll holder will be replaced,” I said.
“Will it be one of those ones made from a head tube, a fork and a front-wheel axle?”
I had actually already bought one on Ebay. But I decided that rather than mention this, I’d pop out to the garage and tell the bicycles about the treat that awaited them. I seemed certain of a warmer welcome.
As I stepped outside, the front door slammed behind me. Then I realised I couldn’t get into the garage without the key. What I needed was…
The letterbox snapped open.
“If you’re thinking that what you need is an electric door, just remember that if you had one I’d already have taken the fuse out of it,” said Mrs. Doc.