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Major Security Incident

My mountain bike had been living in Cornwall since I'd gone cycling there a year or so ago and, as I wanted to do some cycling in Finland this summer, I decided to fly it back with me. Luckily, one of Simon's friends was going up to Heathrow on the morning of my flight and agreed to give me a lift in the company's van.

After the bombings in London, security was verging on paranoia at Heathrow airport, and as the van was too high to drive into the car park they drove in front of the terminal building to drop me off. Immediately, we were stopped by two huge policemen who looked as if they were straight out of Baghdad, with machine guns, bulletproof vests, sidearms, and eye protection. None too happy to have their secure zone invaded by an ominous white van, they agreed to let it stop at the end of the terminal to drop me off.

I jumped out with my assortment of suspicious looking black waterproof bags and carried out the huge cardboard box with my bike inside and the van sped off. There weren't any baggage trolleys outside the terminal, however, so I walked a few metres away to look for one. A car pulled up and two more armed policemen jumped out and began inspecting my luggage for bombs (as you do). I owned up to it being mine and one of them began screaming that they'd already had a complaint about it and I'd apparently "caused a major security incident." I shouted back that if there aren't any trolleys outside the airport then it's physically impossible for me to get one without leaving my bags.The police then stopped shouting and agreed to go off and find a trolley for me. There was an El Al flight to Israel checking in nearby which no doubt added to the tension over my WMD luggage.

On arrival in Helsinki I discovered that, once again, my bike had been damaged in flight. It appeared to have been dropped and dragged along the ground, breaking some of the chainring teeth and bending an axle in the process. Seeing it, I wondered if it could have fallen out of the plane while we were flying. Filing the damage report took forever and the airport was almost empty by the time I surfaced out of baggage claim and finally met up with Carita.

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