Monday 28 November 2011

Sooty Old Coal 1 of 2

Riga by night
As I have been pushing my way through the festive streets of Northern Europe I have been thinking about ginger christmas cookies, trees with lights, presents and that sort of carry on. A thought came to mind about the preverbal lump of coal that should one day find its way into a persons stocking. Firstly you would be excited, 'oh, a lump of coal'!! 'I can light it up when the temperature turns chilly outside and warm the house for my friends and loved ones' Then as you turn the carbon brick over in your hands and realise there is a sooty black residue everywhere and accompanied by a nasty smell and acrid smoke as you light it up you think, this isn't that great, infact its not nice at all.
Bay Of Riga
Using this line of thinking I might well be putting Doris in the stocking of a person whom I despise. "oh my goodness, how wonderful, a bike" Somewhat shiny and looking the part the recipient would jump on and feel the wind in their hair until suddenly and for no good reason Doris would become a lump of coal. She would tear, creek, snap, break, bend, buckle and all because you were using her as directed...ish.

Baltic Sea. North of Riga

So there I was out of the saddle and getting myself and Doris with all her winter weight up a small undulation in Sweden that felt like mt Everest after the flatness of the baltics when without warning my right foot gave way and I very closely gave up having children on my top bar. A quick glance behind and I saw the peddle on the ground and initially I thought I must not have tightened it properly when they were replaced a week or so ago. However it did not take me long to realise that I had broken the crank in half, an injury that is neither common or try as I might, fixable in the field. So I walked, scooted and glided the 10km in the pitch black into the next small town where I set up camp and made my way to the bike shop in the morning. Not opening until 12pm I was sitting outside when some old ladies convinced me to move into the small mall where I would be out of the negative temperatures. As I sat there making a hat or two I was inundated with visitors one of which called me crazy and invited me to the soup kitchen right before her partner dropped beer all over my bread. They of course were the local homeless and nutty as a fruit bar and indeed calling me crazy. I left this featureless corridor to the supermarket as they are always good for warming to toes when I was approached by an aging lady of slim build and a healthy demenor. I explainied my problem and you wouldn't have guessed it but she was selling her brand new crank set which we found out later fit my bike less than perfectly but fit none the less. The bike mechanic only had the tools to do the job as this lady, Susan had wanted her crank replaced last season and thus he ordered and used them for the same reason twice.
Baltic Sea
Making my way out of Sweden and into Danmark I was simply shocked at the treatment cyclists get there. There are lanes and lights everywhere and get this, the drivers actually look for bikes when they make turns. It helps that there are almost as many cyclists at a given intersection as there are cars so I suppose a strength in numbers is assumed. In Danmark you just choose the direction you wish to travel and there will be a cycle path along that route. Too easy.

Fancy that. Fixing Diris in the cold
Currently I am in Holland having made my way through the north of Germany, Danmark and Sweden. Joy and I crossed to Stockholme from Tallin having ridden the Baltic Coast through Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia of copurse coming all the way through Poland. A big shout out to Joy all the Way from New York City who was with me for just over 5 weeks and amassed almost 3000km in that time. Pretty awesome for a big city gal. Thanks Joy and thanks for the post you put up last week.

Read on the next blog to see what the plan is from here. I have also posted the photos that Joy added with her post.

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