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were pushing up a climb there was a bang and a spoke in my front wheel had
broken. What to do? I had packed spare spokes really as a preventative
measure, you know if you pack them you won’t need them, I am not capable of
actually fixing this myself and the wheel wouldn’t even go round even with the
brake calliper completely released so I can’t ride anywhere to get help. I sat
down at the side of the road for the next 10 minutes staring at my wheel with
not a clue what to do next. The only thing we can do is to walk back a few
kilometres to the nearest town and see if we can find help. It’s Saturday about
5:30pm and whilst we are confident of finding a bike shop we know nothing will
be open until Monday morning so either we are stuck here until Monday or we
can make enquiries in the bars and cafes and see if anyone knows a mechanic.

Amazingly as I was walking into town, bike on my shoulder luggage slung over

my other shoulder and broken wheel in hand looking very sorry for myself, I

come across a guy cycling with his young daughters who is very happy to try

and help me. He packs me into his van and directs Katie to the nearest

affordable hotel. I am taken to a mechanic he knows, a guy who I am told can

fix anything, sadly not my Dura Ace wheel. He does give us a number of another

guy who might be able to help. Back in the van and I am driven across town to

another house. By this time I am resigned to the fact that we will have to wait

until the shops open on Monday morning but as we enter the man’s garage a

smile lights up my face. The walls are decorated with cycling posters, there

is a row of wheels hung from the ceiling and all of his tools are carefully

mounted on the wall. If anyone can fix this he can and he did, even hammering

out a spoke of his own when we discovered the spokes I had been given by the

bike shop at home were the wrong size. He spent about 40 minutes truing the

wheel so that it was perfect for me to ride again. Back in the van and I was

driven back to Katie in the hotel whilst our new friend phoned ahead to a

restaurant and asked them to keep the kitchen open for us. I frantically

plugged everything in to charge; we jumped back in the van and were driven to

the restaurant. What a night and what incredible generosity we were shown,

no-one would accept any payment for their help they were just happy to help

us. We went to bed looking forward to tomorrow’s early morning crossing in

to Croatia.

We are now halfway to Istanbul.      Cont next month

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