Day 3 – If I Had a Hammer….

19th June 2018

I am wide awake at 2.30am, my body has decided it’s 9.30am (UK time), and I’m a lazy cow for lolling in bed this late… I try to go back to sleep, but it’s no good so at 3.30 I call Glo for a chat.  After that I try again and do nod off for half an hour but am awake again at 4.30… I read for a while and eventually get up at 5.30.

Am out the door and in the next Uber by 7am, down to the BART and round to San Francisco airport, again.  I drop into the departure terminal and have some breakfast, eggs sunny side up with bacon and potatoes… 1 and a half slices of warm bread masquerading as toast and a large coffee.  I troop off to United Cargo and am there by 8.30.  Spotty boy is there again and takes the paperwork again, gets me to sign another piece of paper again and then gives me another release to take to the door with the window…. again.

After about 10 minutes the young black woman fork lift truck driver comes along and takes my piece of paper.. she doesn’t look very happy this morning, but then neither do I so ‘snap’!  Again I am allowed to stand in the warehouse and I wait anxiously for her to return with my baby.  Eventually she is on her way back with an enormous crate.. yay, at last!!  She puts it down near the shuttered door and then a man comes along, again obviously another supervisor who says, ‘Where’s your truck?’, ‘What truck? I don’t have one I’m unpacking it and riding away’.  ‘Oh no I don’t think so, what are you going to do with the crate?’ ‘I was told by the shipper that I could uncrate it and if I give someone $20 they would take the crate away for me’. He looks very uncertain, then he says ‘Do you have tools?’ ‘No, I was hoping you might have a crowbar or something’ ‘No we don’t have any tools here’ He and another young black women forklift driver who has turned up look at the crate and murmur about it being cardboard sides… I suggest we might be able to get in with a stanley knife errr box cutter.  The young woman disappears and while she is gone the man says ‘theres no need to give anyone any money, we can dispose of the crate for you’ and then wanders off.  The young woman comes back with a safety box cutter and she and I proceed to try to cut the sides away, it’s hard going.

Meanwhile the other young black forklift truck driver (YBFLTD1 for short) has come back and after watching us for a few minutes goes off to the car park.  She soon returns with a bag of tools from her car, which includes a screwdriver and a mini claw hammer… that is just so kind of her.  The crate is absolutely covered in screws so I have to set about trying to undo them with a small screwdriver. I manage to get a couple out, they are about 4 inches long and have be put in with a power driver so are murder to get out.  YBFLD1 and 2 have now gone back to work so I am left to my own devices to try and get this bloody bike out.  I start to make some headway; it is very slow and extremely difficult but I do manage to get one side and both ends exposed.

It is then that everything is made worse by the steady stream of blokes who come along and start drooling over the bike. Now ordinarily I am immensely proud and pleased when people admire my bikes, but here I am trying to undo 4-8 inch screws with a poxy midget hammer and a cheapo screwdriver and not one of them offers to help!!  I mean seriously!!  I am very happy to do everything for myself and in fact almost always insist upon it, but here I am sweating my tits off and not one, I mean not one of them even offers to help…. sheesh!!!!!

Every now and then YBFLTD2 comes back to see how I’m getting along and tries to give me a bit of a hand, bless her, but obviously she has a job to do.  The worst obstacle is the large blocks of wood fore and aft that are holding the bike steady.  The screws are 8 inches long and have been power driven so far in that it is almost impossible to turn them.  I take another look in YBFLTD1’s tool bag and find a full size hammer, ooohhh good that should help.  I try bashing the rear block to try and get it to move a little bit so that I can get the claw underneath, but it won’t budge.  If I can just get that undone I should be able to wheel the bike out backwards.  Nope, its simply not having it and I now realise that I am going to have to take the top off to have enough clearance for the bike to get out if and when I can remove the blocks.  I proceed to undo most of the screws holding the top on; I undo them on 3 sides and then lever the top off ripping the remaining screws out.  This works well so I am delighted to be making some progress at last.

It is now 10.30 so I have been at this for the last hour and a half with still a long way to go.  I then decide to try and tackle the front block, this is not as big as the rear one,  After much effort I do manage to remove it, but realise I won’t be able to wheel the bike out because the rear wheel won’t go through the wooden chocks that are on either side of the front wheel holding it straight.  OMG I’m going to have to try and remove at least one of these and they are 2 foot long.  Ahhhh I see they are nailed in, not screwed, mmmm.  I fetch the mini hammer and use that to wack the full length hammer under the wood to try and pry it up.  After much sweating and wood splintering I get one side off… hurrah I am now ready to try and get the bike out.

I put the handlebars into the right position and that leaves just the four ratchet tie down straps to release so am anxious that the bike might fall sideways.  I try to put the side stand down but there isn’t enough clearance with the tie downs on so I gingerly release them one by one.  The bike doesn’t move at all so that’s a relief.  I am starting to gain an audience and the two YBFLTD’s also return.  I decide I am going to have to ride it out, so I climb onto the bike and start her up… this results in a ring of smiling faces surrounding me.. no one offers to help of course.  I put the bike into gear and very slowly move the bike forwards and then worry that as I am going so slowly the bike might fall to the side when it drops down off of the crate, (the drop is about 6 inches), I know I won’t be able to hold her if she starts to go… suddenly one of the blokes brings over some of the wood I have taken off and places it at the front of the crate making a bit of a slope for the front wheel to roll on to, at last someone (other than YBFLTDs1/2) has the sense to help out, thank you.  I slowly move the bike forward onto the slope and the front wheel touches the ground so I inch forward a little and ask the guy to remove the wooden slope, once he has done that I decide to go for it and ride the bike quickly off of the crate… done, phew!  Everyone claps as I turn her round and ride her out of the shutter door.

A couple of guys with YBFLTD2 clear away the rest of the crate and I am left to sort out my helmet etc and take her away.  What a relief to finally have the bike on the road, the whole experience has been a nightmare.  It is now 11.15 and I need to get petrol, ride back to my gaff in the Oakland hills some 35 miles away, drop my luggage and then ride back into San Francisco to meet up with the girls from Australia for a welcome lunch at 1pm.  I get directions to the nearest petrol station, then wave goodbye and thanks to YBFLTD1+2.

The weather is very chilly and quite windy too.  I manage to find petrol and I’m soon making my way to the Bay bridge tunnel and over the Bay bridge into Oakland.  One thing I notice almost immediately is the right hand fork nut is leaking fork oil quite badly, so I am going to have to take it to the dealership later… its near the airport… sigh!

I drop the bags and dash back to meet the girls arriving at Harvey’s bar (named for Harvey Milk) on Castro just before 1pm… there is bike parking right outside so that’s just brilliant.  The girls are great and we have a very nice lunch together… and here we are

Me representing the UK with members of Dykes on Bikes Queensland and Sydney.

Soon after this its back on the bike and a ride through San Fran back down to the airport…. again.

On the way I get to experience the famous ‘streets of San Francisco’  here’s a bit of wobbly film


will add the video later, it won’t load at the moment so will have to edit it

the last section is some freeway… my gloves wouldn’t stop the bloody phone recording.

I soon get lost… as per usual… and find myself riding through one of the airport terminal car parks… I manage to talk my way out and am almost blown off the bike on the freeway.  At last I make it to the harley dealers where I bump in to a few of the Aussies who are on a shopping trip.  I manage to speak to one of the techies and he has a look at my bike.  It’s agreed that he will take the bike in now and refill both legs with fresh brake fluid and replace the top seals.  I also just notice that the left side rear indicator is almost hanging off so he will tighten that up for me… it’s going to cost around $350, ouch, but I prefer the bike to be safe.  I’m meeting the Aussies at 8am in the morning to go on a tour of Alcatraz so will call the dealers after that to check on the repairs and when I can pick her up.

So that means I now have to get another Uber down to the airport to grab the BART back to Oakland and then another Uber up to the apartment… I’m absolutely shagged!!

I pop into the shop and buy a nice shirt and then make my way out where I bump into the girlies yet again.  They are staying in the Mission district and are just about to get into an Uber so offer me a ride to their place which is near to Mission and 24th BART station. I decide to walk a bit further north to Mission and 16th station to see a bit of the city and maybe get something to eat.  On the way I take some photos of some of the typical SF architecture.



Im so tired that I just go into the first market I come to and grab some milk etc.  I then take the BART and another Uber back to my apartment where I unpack all my stuff, type up this blog and am now going to get some sleep.

All in all it has been a tough 3 days and it feels like it’s been a month… now I finally feel like my holiday can begin, at last.  Am really looking forward to the tour in the morning… hope they will let me escape haha!!

Keep Reading



Leave a Reply