Saturday 18 June 2011

Under a bridge

Crossing to Romania
I had the good fortune to have a man chase me out of a petrol station and insist that I talk on the phone with his daughter so that I may come and stay at their house in Bucharest, Romania's capital. That was all well and good except that I was already looking for a place to lay my head and Bucharest was another 40km away. But then again, a wash and a hearty plate of food is always appreciated. I stayed with these people and they of course were lovely and we got on just fine, me telling fibs about biking around Europe and them asking questions which keep finding me out. Its truly amazing what small things (small for me) that people get fixated on and will continue to come back to. In this case it was eating, they wanted to know what how why and then because I had mentioned that I had eaten more food than I can manage on most days they took away my plate and instead put the entire salad bowl in front of me and insisted I cut out the middle man and get er done.

The family from Craiova
Continuing on from here I was a healthy 70km out of the capital when I stopped for a sleep and a drink. Upon rousing all groggy and lagged as one does from sleeps in the middle of the day I jumped on and peddled out of the small village I was in. Let the fun begin. First stop was a silly woman going irate at me for peddling in my lane, even though she was overtaking and well on my side so I flicked her a cute little birdie and rolled on. Down a hill around a corner and over a bridge the road took a turn for the worse. Generally pretty goon In Romania, it was pitted and rutted and bumpy and cobble stoned you get the drift. It was so bumpy that it caused the Stap holding my tent on the rear rack to bounce off and fall on the cassette on the back wheel. As you can probably establish it is not always a great idea to put a hook and a piece of elastic near a turning wheel. Needless to say it caught in the spokes before I had a chance to react BAM, 4 spokes gone just like that. Like I need to break 4 spokes on the middle of god damn nowhere.

As if the cycle gods were playing a cruel game I came to find my spare spokes (4 to be exact) gone. fuck fuckety fuck fuck. How the hell did I lose the spokes, the one thing that could have got me got out of the mess. Incidently the wheel at this stage would not have held its shape had I jumped on not to mention its inability to go round without hitting the frame.  So I tried my best with what I had and tried and failed to do a repair job were I might be able to ride to the next big town.

Doris under a bridge
So enter George into my life. Watching over his minions at the bridge upon which I was hiding from the curious eyes of passers by and from the warming sun to ask how my situation was. He speaks English very well and loves to bike so he said he would do what he could. What other choice did I have, I needed a big helping hand, and there was a big warm hand coming my direction. Upon his return he had asked at the small village down the road of a cycle man as every village has one. Kinda like an ancient medicine man he suggested. Anyway, we went to find this chap and managed to scrounge some spokes from the local everything store, not comparable to what I had but they would suffice. A man with only a smattering of fingers put my wheel back together for a nominal price and we could have been away, but it certainly was a gamble and he had not spliced the spokes correctly so George invited me back to Bucharest with the promise of a better mechanic and a beer. Sold.
Cleaned my drink bottle

This morning I was dropped at an unlikely store where an overweight man tinkered and mused over my rear wheel. He did however impress me with his workmanship (although the proof will be in a few hundred kms from now) and when I asked for some spare spokes he said I will never need any more after the job he is doing. So from a bridge to a village to a dungeon in the middle of a thriving city Doris is patched and ready to rock and roll...again.


Bucharest. A very old history 
Something about a silver lined cloud. Here I am in a double bed having a beer on the lively streets and my bike is as good as new. Tomorrow we face the music again and see where the road takes us.

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