After a hearty breakfast and to-go doggy bag filled with food and treats, I am off. I quickly get out of the city and into the new wonders of nature: lakes, marshlands, sand dunes…
I am getting better at climbing hills. I can actually ride them standing up! At one climb I give the pedals all I have and I hear a crack. Or I don’t. It must have been something else, right?
Another go at another hill and there it is again! I can actually see something chip off of my back wheel. I stop. I hear the tyre rub against the bike frame. How is that possible? Has my wheel gotten loose at some point? Did I not screw it on properly? Would it fall off had I continued cycling? I need to look into that, so I stop and put the bike into the check-up position. Turns out, the wheel is totally off and is rubbing against several spots. I try to put it back into the right position but it just won’t move. Okay, let me look at the spokes, like Dick taught me, to see if everything is okay in that department. Well, turns out, two of them broke out from the hub because it was really old and rusty.
F. U. C. K.
Once the hub is out of the picture, there is nothing you can do really. Unless you’re a pro-mechanic with super advanced skills, able to turn a hand-made metal circle into a fully-functioning bicycle wheel. Which I am obviously not.
F. U. C. K.
I manage to get a 25km-ride back to North Bend to the local bike shop. I walk in to enquire about any kind of moneyless trade they might be interested in. I have Nike sneakers, books, food and advertisement opportunities I can swap. Unfortunately, they are not interested. A new wheel - the easiest solution - costs $60. The workshop is willing to put in free labour.
I don’t have $60 so I start elaborating an action plan. I need to hang out in the Coos Bay for a day or two and:
Contact 100 closest WarmShowers members to enquire about a free-wheel hub (or an entire 700C wheel).
Put an ad on Craigslist.
Hitch-hike to San Francisco and get a used wheel at the Bike Kitchen.
Trade some 60-dollar worth of labour.
Or simply ask my mum to ship me one should none of the above work.
I call up Bear and Larry to ask if I could hang around for one more day in order to come up with a solution. They agree and Bear offers to come and pick me up from the bike shop.
15 minutes later, it’s Larry who shows up and enquires about the state of affairs. I explain the situation and he offers to… sponsor the new wheel! But it 60 dollars though… I cannot simply expect *anyone* to put up this amount of money towards my journey. He says he is really happy to do it as it’s the easiest solution and I should not be wasting too much time on this. It is indeed and I accept.
After an hour or two I am ready to set off anew. It is 4pm: I am 4 hours and an extra 25 km behind. I try to catch a ride to where my bike broke, but it’s simply not working. Well, okay then: an hour later I am back to where I was at noon, I have 60 km to go and it’s starting to rain.
I am committed though. I am strong. And I will make it! I was not gifted a new wheel to relax and sit on my bum. And so, after over 4 hours in the rain, I finally arrive at my host’s village. There’s just one snag: it’s impossible to find his place. After some 15 minutes of meandering in the rain, I decide to knock on a random doors to seek assistance. Unfortunately, the occupants do not know the person I am supposed to meet but they offer to drive me around in order to find the place.
After some 15 minutes of checking out different driveways and the woods – and my host not picking up his phone – the guy asks whether I would not simply prefer to stay at his place. YES! He can offer a hot shower. YESSS! And a Jacuzzi bathtub. YESSS!!!! Did I not say that clear enough? YES YESSS YESSSSSSSSS!!!! It’s like they trying to advertise their place, whilst all you have to say is “safe & dry” and I AM SOLD. Yes, I am a cheap date and I am not ashamed of that!
Today leaves me forever grateful to Larry, my fairy godfather, who kindly offered his financial support to allow me to continue on my adventure. It was so unexpected. So pure. So inspirational. Mum, get sooo ready to host these guys when they’re over in Wroclaw (trzymaj nasz pokój w gotowości dla Bear i Larry’ego, gotuj bigos, sernik i pierogi!!!). And to Brian and Bud, the lovely couple who opened their house to a total stranger who showed up on their doorstep on a rainy evening.
So, let me reiterate this guys: the ONLY thing I do is cycle from point A to point B. It is the AMAZING people who offer their time, resources, energy and money who make this adventure possible. Because *most* people are wonderful and this world is indeed a beautiful place to live in. Despite the atrocities we hear about in the news. So don’t hesitate to go out and talk to your neighbour or the person sleeping around the corner. Chances are they are awesome and they will amaze you.
I bow in gratitude to All of You.