06 Jul Mission International to the rescue
Day 106 & 107 ( 22/23 June 2013) – The next day, Ron finally feels better. We pack up to get an early start. It doesn’t take us long to find the yellow arrows to get us out of town and onto the Camino again.
After a few miles of riding over cobblestones, Ron comes to a dead stop again. This time it is not his stomach issue causing trouble—no—this time it is his bike! The sidewall of his rear rim is blown out. We can’t believe it, the bike is still new and only a little over 3200 miles on it. Looks like we are done riding for the day!
Disappointed, we push our bikes off the Camino trail and past a few houses, when an older man waves to us and shows us the direction of the Camino again …This actually happens quite frequently; Portuguese people are extremely friendly and helpful, and anytime somebody seems to think that we lost our way, they are quick to point us back into the direction of the El Camino de Santiago. I guess we really do look like pilgrims!
However, we show him Ron’s wheel, he tells us in broken English “ not good” and calls his daughter. After some discussion between the two they decide to call on their neighbor, who turns out to be the town’s English teacher. Angie, the teacher, is from South Africa and has a Portuguese husband, who loves to cycle, so the two decided she would be the one that would be able to help us. After the neighbors get Angie’s attention, she goes and wakes up her husband.
Everybody seems fascinated by our adventure and wants to help. All kinds of plans are being proposed. Since it is Sunday and all the shops are closed, we could leave our bikes and then they would give us a ride in the morning to the bike shop (however, we did not want to impose)…or we could take the train to Porto and get in touch with a bike shop…Eventually, we decide to push our loaded bikes to the next little town, to get a train ride to Porto. Angie and Roy give us directions and off we go.
However, once we get to the outskirts of the next town (5 km later), we notice a bike shop. Since it is Sunday it is in deed closed, but we think, maybe we could just stay in this little town and get the wheel fixed in the morning. As we push our bikes a little further into town, we go by a pizzeria, where a cyclist is stopped and ask him whether there is a place to stay the night. The cyclist and the pizzeria owner tell us there is a budget hotel, but it was at least another 5 km away.
Both of them also believe there might be a bike shop near the hotel which might be able to fix the wheel today. So Sergio, the Italian pizzeria owner, quickly decides to leave his pizzeria to load Ron’s bike into his car to drive him there, while the Portuguese cyclist was leading me the same way by bike. Unfortunately, once we make it to the shop, we find out that it is more like a Sports Authority than a bike shop and they are unable to help us.
Sergio and the cyclist tell us about another bike shop in the vicinity, to check in the morning, before wishing us good luck and saying their good byes.
We settle in the hotel for the night, wake up in the morning and make our way to the first bike shop. The mechanic on duty did not seem very assuring about his talents and wanted to wait until later in the afternoon when his boss gets to work, before making any decisions, whether he could help us.
Disappointed, we return back to the hotel to ask about any other shops in the area. Luckily the desk clerk’s husband likes to ride bikes and tells us about another shop, which is a little hike away. So we grab the rear wheel and walk a few miles up and down hills.
Once there, they show us a wheel and tell us it would take about 3 days to order one. Initially, we think, “wow’ we might as well just take a train to Porto and try our luck there”. But then we ask whether he could just replace the wheel he has showed us to make it work with Ron’s hub. The man thinks and looks for a moment, and tells us, “yes, it is possible, be back at 18:00”.
After walking back and forth between the shop and the hotel for several miles, we return at six. The shop owner (who by the way was a participant in the Tour de France in the 70s) and his sons are happy to present us with a new wheel, and wish us good travels.
So how many people does it take to fix a wheel? Not sure, we stopped counting– but having bike troubles during a long bike tour, darn sure seems to be good for foreign relations.
Thanks to everyone who helped us getting back on the road!!