‘pssst’ competition: first loser

we heard a gunshot close by and all looked back in panic

rim fails, tube must pop

In the European leg of a long bike tour, for a two week period we regularly
seemed to get punctures at the worst of times, wearing our patience thinner
than the tyres. There was one on the clay towpaths of the Main-Donau canal, however, which was quite wonderful.

After a brisk morning overtaking the canal’s main wayfarers –touring
grandmothers – we were riding through Nuremburg and had just passed a
travellers’ camp when we heard a gunshot close by and all looked back in
panic. Moments later, realising we weren’’t under fire or in danger, we
stopped to inspect the damage. Gav’s inner tube had exploded and taken half
the wheel with it.

Gav, being the most physically imposing of us, had been a super domestique, taking the wind for far longer than his due. He deserved our solidarity. There being four of us, the only thing to do was for two to remain with the bags and two to find a bike shop in the city.

Cursing our luck, Tim and I sat down at a nearby radweg café and ordered a
radler. The hours passed, as did the touring old ladies, beaming tortoises
to our hares. And the radlers turned into beers. The company was first rate,
including some scholarly Polish builders, whose German was only bettered by their English, and a charming young French couple, who were cycling with their two-year-old son to Canada. The food was pickled fish sandwiches, but you can’’t have everything.

Pete Bloor and Time Keeling

The wearily triumphant pair returned five, maybe six, hours later, having
enjoyed the best of inner city traffic and having managed, at great length,
to find a wheel that was ready to ride. They found a couple of drunks,
gushing about a perfect sunny day on the canal-side to whoever the latest
passing drinking buddy was. The next day, and because of the hangover I
can’’t be sure, but I swear Tim and I found ourselves taking the wind more
than usual.

Peter Bloor 12/12

eds note: A ‘Radler’ – literally ‘cyclist’ – is a mix of beer and soft-drink, a sort of deutsche shandy.