A cold and … erm, flakey start
We left by 9am so that there would be bags of time to catch the 12:40 flight from London Heathrow to Mexico City with our bikes. It’s a forty mile journey from my Mum’s house in Woodcote; a beautiful little village in the Chilterns where I grew up. Lars and I are now storing all of our belongings there. Thank you, Mum! As always, you are so accommodating!
After Mum cleaned up the second the pile of sick made by Harry the kitten (aka Chairman Meow) we were ready to leave. With the bikes attached to the back of Mum’s Ford Escort Estate we posed for a quick photo in the snow, then bundled into the car.
10 miles into the journey, Lars puts out the question, “Where did you put the CTC bags for the bikes, Jen?”
“What do you mean, where did I put the CTC bags for the bikes?”, I retort defensively.
“They won’t let us on the plane without them”, he stated firmly.
So I shuffled, mumbled, grumped and whined, because I knew I must have left them on the driveway. My Mum turned the car around and headed back to Woodcote. She was about as stressed as I was, but much to Lars’ dismay, she continued to drive below the posted speed limit. It was a tense journey but luckily a relatively clear road to the airport. It seemed that the light dusting of snow was enough to keep most British drivers off the road.
We finally arrived at the airport at 11:15am, just 90 minutes before our scheduled departure. Under normal circumstances this would be okay, but we had two bicycles to check in! After a rushed and emotional goodbye, we ran into the airport and Lars got to work at removing the pedals to prepare the bikes. British Airways have certain rules about putting bicycles on a plane.
Prepare your bikes: Learn from our mistake
Unless you are riding your bikes to the airport, prepare your bikes for the flight before you leave! The pedals would not budge! Lars had intended to remove the pedals using a miniature pedal wrench on our Topeak Alien multitool. It simply didn’t provide enough leverage to remove them. Flummoxed, we rolled the bikes in their normal ridable state over to the slightly grumpy, overweight man at the excess baggage area.
“Shuffle, snuffle, snort, grump.” This guy is not happy with us. Time was running out quickly; at last he yields to our pleas. “No point putting them CTC bags on them as I have to wheel them down to the plane myself”, he said.
My chest was so tight I thought my ribs were going pop. We ran to security, handed over our CTC bags to the officer and asked her to dispose of them so not to cause another security issue.
When we reached the gate, Lars disappeared! It was last call and I was on the phone to my beloved housemate Kate for a final goodbye. I saw Lars in the distance walking casually back with some sandwiches; subsequently I now have another grey hair.
Our babies went missing
It is very rare that you see a tear well up on Lars’ face, but after a non-eventful 12 hour flight, we arrived at the Mexico City baggage claim and our bikes were nowhere to be seen! We solemnly filled out the generic missing baggage form at BA Customer Services desk and then (with only our lonely panniers) we travelled four hours North to San Miguel de Allende. In fairness to BA, our bikes were reunited with us less than 24 hours later. Lars’ happy face was a picture!
The adventures of Chairman Meow
So, the Chairman had his own story to tell about the events before we departed.
In the Kitchen the night before we left, he and Barney (the crazy dog) conspired to take the chicken carcass out of the bin. They gobbled up as much of the waste as they could leaving them both with big bellies and bad wind.
Unfortunately for Chairman Meow this included the rubberband used to tie the chicken.
Consequently, the rubberband got stuck and perforated his little intestines in three places. After an £800 operation, he still meows to tell the tale.
Mum, note to self: Pet insurance!