Rose is saved, and our belief in human kindness restored

Written by Peter on July 28th, 2009


I have a headwind that slows me down. But the way along the river is still beautiful. There is a strange throbbing through the frame of my bike. After close inspection I see that after 6700km the rear tyre is almost worn through, and is bulging slightly, that is causing a bump with every rotation. I hobble to Marbech, where I buy a new tyre. I have another problem too, the bottom bracket is shot, but I can’t take off the crank arm to replace it because the internal thread for the removal tool is stripped. I show this to the mechanic, and ask him to remove the lock nuts in the hope that the action of pedaling will loosen the crank arm off. He tells me it won’t work, and that I won’t get more than 15km with the current bottom bracket. He sees my dismay and offers me his son’s bike to continue the journey. With his wife as interpreter I tell him I can’t leave Rose behind, that I would sooner stop cycling than continue without her. Perhaps moved by my passion Helmut tells me that he will try, to repair this bike, and show me that Austrians will succeed where others have failed.
Two hours later, after much banging, a blow torch, a dozen different tools, sweat and swearing, he removes the shredded bottom bracket, while keeping the bike, chainset and crank intact. Its a moment of triumph, he punchs the air, we shake hands, and I invite him for a beer. His wife and father and law, who have watched the ordeal join us. He tells me repairing the bike has been “a pleasure” and only charges me for the part. I buy them another round of drinks, but this isn’t enough to express my deepest gratitude. Rose has been saved.
Riding off, she feels new and silent and quick. All my effort is converted through the new smooth parts to the wheel. I am pleased.
Clouds settle in again. I am buying ingredients at the supermarket and a man asks me about my trip, we chat for a little, and then part. But twenty minutes later, as I am packing my purchases he comes back with his daughter, and  they invite me to dinner, and to sleep at their house. Remembering the darkening sky, I say yes, immediately. And its a great decision. We have a fun night in conversation.  Christen is a cyclist, and has rode the Caminho de Santiago from Au an der Danube in 18 days! Christens daughters are excellent at english, one having spent a year in Rotorua on exchange.  I am really overwhelmed by their kindness and generosity.
The bed is big and comfortable. There is a huge map of the world on the wall, and I go to sleep thinking of how much more of it there is to go but also really happy in this little part of it.


1 Comments so far ↓

  1. Dave says:

    :) Great stuff. Looks like you’re having a ball.

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