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Since we met each other in 2012, the Duchess has been with me in four different apartments across London and Madrid. I am ashamed to say I haven’t taken very good care of her and she fell into a state of disrepair, rust covering her previously pristine handlebar and many other parts.

But one day recently, the man got it into his head that he needed a lockdown project and restoring the Duchess to her former glory was going to be it. And restore her he did! All of that rust was scrubbed off with a ball of wet foil. The rust hadn’t permeated deep and was dispatched with an afternoon’s worth of (his) elbow grease. He oiled the brake chain and pumped the tyres. We were almost as good as new. I blame the loss of the bell on the clumsy handling by our movers to Madrid. The move back to London in 2017 was more considerate on her health. A couple of years ago, a local bike shop replaced the steel basket support with an ugly, masculine black rod for more stability. There is still a little rust in some hard to reach parts. But apart from these cosmetic issues, the Duchess can fly almost as well as in the past.

Mr. Man conducts final inspections on the bike before the test ride

And fly she did! I took her out for a test ride a couple of weekends ago and we rode some back streets before moving on to Clapton high street and then to Hackney Downs, where she did a victory lap around the sunny park. We rested in the grass under blue skies. The braking and overall ride didn’t feel as smooth as before but we will get there once restrictions ease and we can have a more professional check. Praise be to the man for getting her in great, serviceable condition after I had given up on her. How could I?