Da-dong. Da-dong. Da-dong. Something is not right. I can feel it every time my backwheel turns while I’m working my way up-hill. I am 15km in into a 21km climb and awaiting an equal descent. Started yesterday in the afternoon, I woke up to a flat tire this morning. Couldn’t find what caused it and just put in my spare tube. And now – again. Of course I checked to make sure it’s nothing stuck into the tire that would cause the next flat. But here I go. Another one. This time, I will have to patch. I sigh. I hate this. This is the part of bike touring where I can’t be matter of fact see it as part of it.
So, first thing I do, is eating some soul-comfort chocolate I bought at an international supermarket in Panzhihua. Then I get to work; tools out, bike apart, detecting the pinch and so one.
But, It’s the small things that count in live, right? I empty my tool bag. I empty the pannier where I store my tool bag. I can’t find it. This tiny piece of sand paper needed to roughen the tube so the tube, patch and glue become one. I use stones instead but to no success.
There I am, grand-daughter of a galvanizer, all alone, somewhere in Sichuan, not able to fix a simple flat tire.
More chocolate, packing of stuff and pushing of bike. What else could I do? No-one there to pick me up if I a) throw a tantrum or b) break down crying and I feel like I might need my energy.
On two kilometers of walking I meet one woman who totally ignores me and two men who try to help but can’t and learn the Mandarin word for sandpaper before approaching a young guy who simply puts my stuff into his truck and gives me a ride to some colleagues of my grandpa. (And yes – I am soooo close to the summit and do the whole downhill in a car…)
I buy sandpaper and fix the tire. Easy, as I know where it is broken. But by now, there is another pinch, and another one and another one… We eventually find 8 (!) more holes… And decide that this is madness and I walk into Yumen where there are two stores selling bikes. And that’s what they do. They are selling bikes. But not bike parts.
„Go to Panzhihua. There you can buy new tubes“
Laughing? Crying? The man who helped me find the second bike store feels sorry for me and explains me, I could just take a bus. For his sake, I try to look not-totally-devastated, nod, thank him and wonder, if I should just abondon this trip and my crazy idea to cycle north from Kunming while walking past Yumen’s beautiful lake.
Back at the work shop I am in for a – good – surprise. The other tire has been fixed!
Off I am, finally cycling again and getting another 25k done.
So, distances this day: cycling 27km, pushing 2km, walking 3km, car 23km.