Rescue From Without

journal biketrip

Location: Bastogne -> Liege -> Aachen -> Berlin

I got to the bus station to buy a ticket, only to discover that the machine requires a certain MoBIB membership card, which you load trips on. Sounds more or less like an oyster card in london. Because of covid, buses aren’t accepting cash. Frantically, with time ticking down, I attempted to register online for one of these cards. Once you register and order a card, you can start putting trips onto your account, and then ride. I registered and then searched the site in vain, finding no way to order a card. With 5min to go before the bus showed up, I died to throw myself at the driver’s mercy.

A couple in front of me has a similar tale to tell the bus driver. He waved them on, so it didn’t seem to be a problem. What was a problem, however, was the bike. I spoke with a driver of the same bus line the previous night and he told me it wouldn’t be an issue to put my bike down below in the luggage compartment. The driver today, however, didn’t seem to want me to. After begging and pleading in french he unhappily relented, stomped down from the driver seat, and opened the storage under the bus. My bike didn’t fit, so I frantically removed the front wheel (which required unpacking one of my bags to get my multitool), squeezed my bike in, and got on the bus.

My front wheel is held in place by a pin, I suppose equivalent to an axle, that has a removeable spring on either end that seem to function like washers. In my rush, I lost one of the springs. It’s an acceptable sacrifice for the bus ride.

The bus rode past the turn off to the l’achouffe brewery, the same turn I took on my fourth day of the trip, after having fixed a flat and despairing that I wouldn’t be able to complete this trip.

I’ve seemingly made it. Getting on the bus was the one major worry I had, the first link in a chain of travel that could have sunk the entire return trip. I breathed a sigh of relief, as the bus takes me directly to the train station where I have nearly 30min to transfer, and each subsequent transfer is incredibly easy.

I leaned back in my seat. This has been a most excellent adventure.

The enemy of good is better

After making it to the train station and onto my first train without issue, I thought to myself, maybe I should tighten the screw holding the pin on my front wheel in place (the one I removed so I could fit my bike in the bus). The rod sheared right off on one of the ends as I over-tightened the screw. I did this on the train from Liege to Welkenraedt. Fortunately the pin was still long enough that the front tire could rest on it, and I could roll the bike. I wheeled my bike across the platform to catch the short train over the border into Aachen, and found a bike shop near the hauptbahnhof where I could buy a replacement. Turns out it only cost 5EUR.

Being back at the Aachen HBF where it all started felt surreal. I remember so clearly arriving here at the start of the trip, buying two sandwiches (dinner and breakfast), and heading off onto a trip that was going to end up being nothing how I expected. My bike was loaded all wrong. My planning all went out the window by day two. I got to know my bike really well. Which front and rear gear combinations work, which ones don’t, how I should shift based on elevation change. I developed a system where I knew where everything I had was kept in my bags, how to distribute the weight, and the order in which I would need my things. I’m going to get a book and figure out how to take apart and rebuild my bike this winter.

Adventure is just bad planning.

End of Bike Trip