Preparing to leave Bikeland

A rack for an oldtimer bike

32 °C of sav­age heat and I’m not even in France yet. Accordingly, today’s trip was­n’t done exclus­ively by bike. I wish so! Instead, I had to spend three hours in the S75 bus from Münster to Bocholt, where they keep the one rack that seems suit­able for my bike.

My bike’s a beau­ti­ful old­timer (my oth­er one, too). I remem­ber how Nelson used to refer to his Bergamont as his „daugh­ter“ – which may have led to some ques­tion­able con­flicts, he also used to claim occa­sion­ally, at the end of a rough day, that his saddle had raped him –; my bikes, judging from their age, could be my par­ents. Most of the time, “old is always bet­ter” works pretty well for me, only to repair or expand those things can be a bit of a toil.

A mel­li­flu­ous stench of sweat greeted me inside the bus, and when I sat down, the cush­ions seemed con­spicu­ously dank to me. The only worse thing was to leave the bus again, it felt like run­ning against a wall of but­ter and tasted like­wise. Close to the River Aa, the air was more pleas­ant, if I may be allowed to over­look the flies in my mouth.

Bocholt, like Münster, is a bike city. There are bikes every­where; of course stu­dents are using them, but like­wise shop­pers, com­muters, offi­cials, CEOs, people walk­ing out their dogs … there are bikes every­where; like­wise bike lanes, des­ig­nated routes, extra space in front of bike-only traffic lights, bike-buses, Radstationen – bike park­ing decks –, if you throw a stone in any ran­dom dir­ec­tion you’ll hit a bike work­shop’s win­dow. There are bikes every­where, and the cap­it­al of this coun­try is Biketown.
This is where the bikes go. “Fietsen” is a for­eign word for what Münsterans call “Leezen”, after all, this is closer to the Dutch bor­der. Even more for­eign for­eign­ers may say “bikes”.

No, really, that’s the shop’s name. Got my rack, and the spe­cial clamps to attach it to my bike, which lacks the cru­cial scre­whole with which to fix the rack usually.

Münster was worse than Bocholt, even though it was already even­ing when I returned. The dreaded heat did­n’t leave me there and did­n’t leave me at home either, only now, past mid­night, it’s slowly ced­ing. Right now, 00:45!, it’s pre­cisely 24 hours until my bus to Paris departs. Tomorrow I’ll have to race to the loc­al hard­ware shop here in Borghorst as soon as they open, the geni­uses in Bocholt gave me the wrong clamps, through which the rack screws don’t fit by a frac­tion of a mil­li­metre. Either the stuff is going to work or I’ll have to make the Spaniards carry all my stuff (includ­ing, but not lim­ited to the tent. I hope they’ve found hosts every­where, until I arrive they would have to sleep under the stars). So far I’m care­fully optim­ist­ic. I’ll bet­ter be, for there will be no deus ex mach­ina: My bike guru, uncle Gerrit, has left for his long-over­due hol­i­day just today – to Bali (he’s not going by bike). I’ll have to do that rack fix and, oh well, pack all my stuff, since it’s still 24-ish hours till depar­ture and pack­ing earli­er is – I’ve tried – phys­ic­ally impossible for me. How much I’d like to write that my bags are com­pletely empty so far, alas; that’s not entirely true: They still con­tain some debris from last year’s trip.

Tomorrow shall be a funny day!


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