18.4.15

Cycling In Spain: Loulé to Trigueros (Spain) - 124 kilometres

Boasting undoubtedly the best cycling statue I'd
 seen in Portugal, there'd have to be a bicycle
mechanic somewhere in the town.
Craving more time in Loulé, at least for another night, I almost got my wish. But it wasn’t for any of the reasons I would have chosen. Having ridden almost 3,000 kilometres without a flat tyre, let alone any mechanical problems, the ubiquitous adage of Murphy’s Law, that is: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong, had reared its ugly head. It came in the form of my bottom bracket, which for those of you who aren’t bicycle-savvy, is a rather necessary part, connecting the crankset to the frame, which with a turn of the pedals allows it to rotate freely. 

 
 
Spinning unreliably and making plenty of racket, over just a few kilometres of flat road, I quickly realised that I needed to replace the all-important part, or at least have it looked at. I still had a long way to travel, and much of it through the rugged mountains of southern Spain. Not having the necessary part, tools or expertise, my only hope was to see what the town had in the way of bicycle repairers. We’d visited its vibrant market first-hand, the odd café and craft shop that appeared along its network of cobbled alleyways, not to mention the remains of its three-towered Moorish castle perched on a hill, but for the moment all that mattered was unearthing a 21st century artisan who could fix my bike, and in a hurry.

As I roved the busy streets, frequently stopping, in vain, to ask for help, I at least consoled myself with the thought that with a population of almost 22,000 there’d surely be some cyclists whose bottom brackets would need replacing every now and then. Anxious and dripping with perspiration, it was more than an hour before I finally had my hopes confirmed. Rather dowdy and inconveniently hidden near the end of a narrow lane, it was nevertheless, the exact shop I needed. Behind its glass window stood a half-naked frame and beneath it an assortment of tools and grease covered bicycle parts. Clearly, it didn’t just sell bicicletas but repaired them. However, it was just a matter of when. De vuelta en treinta minutos (Back in thirty minutes), said the sign on the door.
A ferry boat transporting me across the Rio
Guadiana into Spain.
With my frustration mounting, knowing I had more than a hundred kilometres to travel, as well as a ferry ride somewhere in between, there was nothing more I could do but bide my time. Thirty seven long minutes later a man opened the door from the inside and welcomed me in. Bicycle in tow and with the morning all but gone, I simply smiled, pointed to my bottom bracket and uttered the words o suporte inferior.  
Either not busy or empathetic towards my plight – in all likelihood, a combination of the two – he reassured me that he’d not only be able to replace the part but the bicycle would be ready to pick up in two hours. Not the slightest bit concerned about the cost, I left thinking, If only all bicycle repairs back home could be completed so promptly.

 
 

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