Bent Wheel

The bad hour and the bent wheel

Some things are not meant to last. And amongst those things I can also count my front wheel which last week has fallen victim to a traffic incident in Bucharest. Just when I thought that my bike is ready and that I could start off in any moment if I wanted to, the incident happened. Me riding on the side walk, a large car parked in such a manner that it blocked an angle, a car exiting a parking lot a bit to fast and bam, my wheel ended up being dragged for about a meter by the front of the car.

It all happened at a really small speed and the only damage was my front wheel, which I’ve just rebuilt less than one month ago for the journey through Central Asia. As the guild was probably shared we both walked away with our own damage and it was up to me to try and temporarily fix the wheel so that I could use it for the following weeks until the replacement rim arrives.

The main problem with 28 inch rims is that the demand in Romania is way smaller than the demand for 26 inch wheels (everybody seems to be riding a mountain bike), and the rim which I ewant is almost impossible to find on a short notice. And so I have to order it from Germany, and hopefully it will arrive in a couple of weeks in time for my departure in mid February.

The temporary fix was a bit easier, and after two bike shops which said that it cannot be done I ended up at one of the most romanian bike shops in Bucharest. The shop itself seems to be frozen somewhere in the communist 80s, in the attic of an old house, with old bike parts scattered around in an apparent chaos, with bikes waiting repairs hanged on the walls, everything in the filtered light of a large window. Beer is almost always on the table, and in the background one can hear a radio playing romanian folk songs sometimes interrupted by news bulletins.

The bike mechanic is also a very interesting character, probably a good example of a romanian trying to make his way through the fall of the comunism and the beginning of the market economy, still a bit nostalgic of the times past. And in this case he tries to do what seemed impossible in other places, to temporarily fix my wheel, on the spot. And with a glass of beer, with a hammer with some time and with a lot of talking about different things the wheel starts once again to turn into an actual wheel.

And somehow everything is on the opposite end on how things would happen in German, and it’s a completely different way of doing things a way in which to some extend the Romanian society works. Much can be said about Romanians but one thing should be granted to them: they can adapt really quickly and they can improvise. One the other hand this also usually means that you’re not going to get the best end result, but it will generally do the job.

This was also the case for my front wheel which is once again in working condition, but with which I wouldn’t start a long journey. And at the same time I’m not sure that when I’m going to have the new wheel built from scratch that I’m going to do it in the same place.

And about the incident even though it’s a pity I should be grateful that it wasn’t more serious and that I came out without a scratch, and that it happened before the journey while I still have time to fix the issue. At the same time it was a reminder that the civilized traffic of western Europe is gone, and I should pay more attention as the most of the drivers certainly don’t.

I unfortunately didn’t have the camera with me when it happened so I took the picture from Yngve Thoresen. My version of the bent wheel was a bit worse though.




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