For over 100 years since the invention of the horseless carriage, motorists have had the security of breakdown services should they be so unfortunate as to be stranded away from home by a mechanical or electrical malfunction which they are not able to fix themselves.
First the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) came into being, followed closely by the AA (Automobile Association) and more recently by Green Flag, have been on call day and night to assist the motorist in their hour of need wherever they may be.
Sadly there has been no similar service available to cyclists, although most are fairly competent in tackling such problems as repairing punctures, and fixing transmission problems at the roadside or out on our off-road tracks. However, with more and more people taking to two wheels, and the construction of greenways which take cyclists many miles from hard surfaced arteries, there is an increasing need for such a service.
In the centre of the country, Derby is at the forefront in providing first class facilities for cycling, and this year we will see the opening of the Velodrome, the Park Bikeworks Cycle Hub and a county-wide cycle rescue service aptly named Donkey Derby, which has been undergoing trials locally for some weeks now.
Due to more people taking holidays abroad and the high price of carrots, there has been a surplus of donkeys on our English beaches, leaving many of these lovely beasts of burden unemployed and destitute. Many of them have now joined Donkey Derby forming the backbone of the new cycle rescue service which combines their talents with the latest digital technology enabling them to home in on stranded cyclists whose mobile phone gives off a GPS signal indicating the exact position of the incident.
The donkeys carry an electronic homing device which is connected to a stick on which a carrot is suspended in front of the animal's nose. The device is cleverly designed to move the carrot in the direction of the stranded cyclist, thus steering the donkey towards the GPS position.
What a wonderful combination of old and new technologies indeed.
All eventualities have been catered for, even to the extent of having a rescue facility for the donkeys themselves, should they be so unfortunate as to get lost or to run out of carrots. See picture below.
Also there is a standby back up of facsimile donkeys in the unlikely situation where the whole fleet is out on calls and the stable have run out of donkeys.
Like the NHS, the service is free at the point of delivery, since it is funded by donations from people who have more money than sense. Should you be in the fortunate (?) position to be in this category and wish to make a contribution please contact Donkey Derby on the easy to remember number 3434 (ask for Jenny) or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Further financial support comes from the sale of manure which may be ordered on the web site www.ossmuk4all.co.uk It can be delivered by Royal Mail in plain packaging.
Here are some photographs of the service in action.