Bobbing for bicycles


on a Friday afternoon, the way you do. Well, you do if you’re a Lengthsman. It’s a bit of a change of pace from smiling at butterflies and not what I’d planned for the afternoon, but that’s part of the fun. I always make a plan and a ‘To Do’ list but things very rarely go to plan, you’ve got to be able to roll with the metaphorical punches.

I got a call to say there was a bike under a bridge, clearly abandoned and dropped over the railings by its rider but probably not owner. It was reported to be in the perfect place and depth to snag an unsuspecting boat’s prop so it clearly couldn’t wait. As it was not on my length a boat rescue for the offending bike was impractical. It would take me well over an hour to get there so it was a case of loading up the van with the grappling hook and extendable boat hook and hoping my aim wouldn’t fail me. Plan B would have been waiting for Thames Lock to close and commendeering a punt and a Dave from there but thankfully it didn’t come to that. 

Bike wrangling kit

Somehow I managed to catch hold of the frame with only my second swing of the grappling hook. I would like to claim it was pure skill, and I have had a fair bit of practice over the years, but I’m afraid blind luck was probably the main reason. That and the lack of an audience. It always goes much better without an audience, otherwise I’d probably still be there now.


Second time lucky (yes I know my work boots are overdue a clean)

Regardless of the reason the rope gods were clearly smiling on me and all it took was a little brute force to get it back on terra ferma. Now all that remains is to find out if it’s been reported stolen so I  can reunite what’s left of it with its owner and if that draws a blank donate it to our local bike recycling scheme so it can have a new life somewhere else. Either way boats may safely pass without peril, which is a good couple of hours work.

The final pull to freedom