In a world increasingly preoccupied with throwaway materialistic things; where people are constantly busy earning money to pay for those things, or so their children can have those things;
This is the story of my dreams of travelling the world by bicycle. Because it's there. And because I dont want to die without experiencing the truly important things in life .

A sense of wonder and a sense of adventure.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Adi's Bike is Testing Me.

It’s the second day in Vietnam and I am coming to the realisation that I think I could really love this place and that I have already had enough of Adi’s bike.

Adi’s bike is acting like a pain in the arse. Adi insisted before we left NZ that I put 23C tyres and tubes on her machine. Because I felt sorry for her, and because I wanted it to be a bit easier for her, against my better judgement I put the skinnies on.  For my Mercian I stuck with the tried and very tested 26 x 1.75 ultra-puncture proof Conti’s. I love 26 X 1 tyres but not for cycle touring in far off lands.

Yesterday I had to fix Adi’s first puncture from  rough handling on the flight from NZ. But today when we went down to start off Adi’s bike decided to puncture in the rear 2 minutes down the road. The puncture yesterday wrecked the tube so I binned it. The rear puncture today occurred at the valve stem so I had to bin the tube. Once I’d fixed it we carried on down the road where Adi punctured in the front wheel and once again due to the hole being on the corrugation pattern in the tube, I had to throw the tube away. Three tubes down in 2 days! I had only brought 6 spare tubes for Adi’s bike and we have 2 months on the road. I can also tell you now that although there are back yard bike shops everywhere here none of them sell 26 X 1 tubes. In fact all they seem to sell are the old imperial tubes. The choice is 26 x 1 3/8 or 24 x 1 3/8.

I can also advise anyone who thinks all 26 tubes are the same that they most certainly aren’t, and trying to get a 1 3/8 tube into a 1” casing does not make Niel a happy chappy either.

Desperate situations require desperate measures and after managing to stuff a huge tube into the tyre, and once we were on the road again, my brain was busy looking for a solution. Ten kms down the road I spied a bigger bike shop and went in to buy a 24 x 1 3/8 tube because I thought it might stretch a bit and that that would thin it out and the whole thing might fit happier in Adi’s tyre.

Fifteen minutes later after arguing with 4 Vietnamese bike mechanics each telling me that nothing they had would fit that bike and I was wasting my money, I had my tube. Five minutes later I had it in and she looked like a pretty good fit! (Actually at $2NZ a tube it hardly broke the bank.)
A 24 x 1 3/8 Will Fit !

On the road again with the temperature gauge nudging 36C and as humid as a sauna we cycled on towards Halong Bay. Just before we were about to expire from the heat we stopped at a roadside stall and ordered in our best Vietnamese an ice cream and  a coke. What we received was a box of 10 ice creams and a lovely cold 2ltr bottle of coke that the shop owner had to cycle down the road to get. Awesome, although we could only manage 8 ice creams between us. The whole lot costing a staggering $6 NZ.

Ten kilometres before our destination Adi’s bike decided to test me again. This time by breaking a rear spoke on the cluster side. And as if that wasn’t enough a local scooter driver reckoned we needed to make an immediate left hand turn. Adi decided at this stage she didn’t like her bike anymore and that she’d ride mine. So I told scooter man that unless he was a mind reader he couldn’t possible know where I was going and if he was a mind reader he would realise that at this moment I would like him to piss off! I told Adi that she wanted the skinny tyres on her bike so she could ride it the last 10kms to the hotel with the rear brake off so the wheel would go around.

So here I am at one of the best hotels in Halong Bay writing my blog after fixing Adi’s broken spoke in the bath using her chain as a chain whip and removing bike grease from everything that I touched while I did it.
Locking the Chain to Something Solid.

I got the grease off all the hard surfaces like the reception counter, elevator buttons, and complimentary coffee cups but have given up on all linen marks.

We are both happy cyclists after hot showers, and a full buffet meal. And at a room rate of $100 US / night they can afford new linen and curtain dry cleaning.

Tomorrow we have a look at Halong Bay and then start south down the coast towards our eventual destination of Singapore.
Harlong Bay.

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