More Repairs - is it REALLY Possible?!?

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Greece  , Attica,
Thursday, November 26, 2009

Before the boat leaves for Turkey, Brian wants the bikes in ‘tip top’ shape.  Worried about the lack of good cycle shops in Greece (not that we’ve found many in our travels in any country), he things that it may be even more scarce in Turkey.  And with another bag breaking yesterday, we need proper gear or our bikes are being shipped home and we’re continuing with backpacks.  Not what I would prefer, so I’m praying that we can find something. 

Spent most of last night searching online for cycle shops.  A city of over 3 million people - 3 out of every 10 Greeks live here.  Surly there MUST be some good cycle shops, right?

Brian found one online that was within walking distance of the downtown.  Others were back down my favourite tram line at the ferry port - didn’t want to go there again!  Spoke to a guy at hostel this morning, so we have one or two more options to check out. 

The first turned out to be a really small hole-in-the-wall with no pannniers to speak of, but some decent replacement components.  Since bags are more important at this moment, on we went to find some other options. 

When the shop was found, they guy had some of what we needed.  Vaude bags which felt thin and flimsey and were only water ‘resistant’.  Plus we just finished reading a whole report from some cycle tourists who had continuous problems with these bags.  Plus, the dealer didn’t have a front rack in which to mount them on.  Since Brian’s rear racks keep breaking (and pannier clips too) he thought that it might be a good idea to try and distribute the weight between front and rear.  But having a front suspension fork makes pannier mounts difficult. 

The guy did recommend another shop that he thought would have racks that would fit, and he may even have Ortlieb bags.  Unfortunately this other shop keeps strange hours and wouldn’t be open until after 3pm. 

3pm?  Really?  The last thing I wanted to do was waste a whole day on a shot-in-the-dark.  If this didn’t come through, we’d be boarding a boat with nothing done at all (and I didn’t want a grumpy Brian because of that).  Just in case the owner decided to come in early today, we made our way over in the general direction.  All that could be found was a dark window full of junk and a sign that said ‘open‘.  Great.

What to do?  This did not seem to be working out for us.  A huge city like Athens, I thought we would be able to find what we needed.  I’m not sure how much longer ingenuity and creativity will continue to carry us through this trip, it’s time for some real gear.  We’re no longer ammeatures.  Brian told me that he hadn’t wanted to invest in anything good before we left because he didn’t think I was going to hack the trip and would give up within a month. 

Look how things have changed!

Needing a bit of time to cool down and contemplate, we went to the National Archeological Museum.  By the time we were done, it was around 3pm.  Time to see if we had any chance of continuing the cycling part of our trip. 

Upon 2nd arrival at the store, Brian’s heart sank and Sharilyn’s began to soar.  A tiny store - about the size of our bathroom in Calgary.  It held thousands of gems piled high up to the 2nd story ceiling.  It would take months to inventory this place.  Used parts galore, a pile of tools on the cluttered counter, bits and bobs everywhere, an ancient rotary phone, dusty old bags, a tape deck, and a quirky middle-aged man with glasses wearing spandex.  Medals hanging on the wall behind the cash machine hinted towards a passion for cycling. 

We discussed Brian’s broken rack and his desire for a front rack.  Rummaging around, he found some old pieces in the store that would work for a rear rack, but he would have to go and find us a front rack if we wanted it.  Bags?  He tried to talk us out of Ortliebs saying that they were very expensive, but after some persistence, turned the store over to a customer and beckoned us to follow.  Through locked metal gates, along cramped corridors, down dark stairwells into a basement storage area we discovered boxes and boxes of neatly labeled excess inventory where he pulled out some dusty Ortlieb bags for us to inspect.  Good as any we’ve seen, I inspected the yellowing tags which told me Ortlieb has been producing these bags for 10 years.  (In reality, the company has been around for ********** years).  But they seemed sound enough.  I would rather sped the money on a tried and true brand than any other since I’ve been backed into a corned and forced to do this.  Everything we’ve read says Ortlieb - let’s hope they’re right. 

Worried about time, the shopkeeper wanted to get out and find us a front rack.  So he left us in charge of the shop this time while he rode a customer’s bike off to find the rack.  Upon inspection, it looked like it would work with a few retro-fits and jerry-rigs:  mud flap had to go and washers were added to bring out the rack past the fork.  A bit of a hassle, but it seemed to work in the end. 

Brian also wanted his rear rack replaced since the welds had gone and it was covered in duct tape.  The owner had a couple of versions, but nothing that really suited all of Brian’s requirements.  Choosing one, it was mounted on the bike in an awkward way.  Upon removal of the old rack, the owner said “I think there’s till life in this”  (told you I loved this guy!).  In the end, even Brian agreed that the old broken one was better for now.  As a consolation, we’ve been told to go to Ermou street and find Marcus who will be able to tell us where to go to find someone who can weld aluminum.  We’ll see if we have time for that adventure tomorrow.

Decided to change my other grip shift.  I guess Brian’s ’preventative maintenance’ has finally sunk in.  since the last duct tape repair inevitably broke down, I didn’t have much faith in this one lasting long either.  Taking a matching Shimano grip shift that had been specifically ordered for another customer to pick up tomorrow, the owner attached it to my bike. 

Now, my whole bike is pretty much new:  drive train, cogs, shifters.  Brian’s baggage is all new:  bags and racks. 

Brian had noticed that the berrings in his bogies had gone and needed replacing.  No new arts could be found here, so the owner went through all of the used ones that he had to find some that were in better condition than what was currently on the bike. 

All said and done I think he earned his pay that night and we’re outfitted to continue.  Even Brian can no longer deny that we’re going to keep going - rain or shine!

I’m still quite sad to be saying goodbye to of our MEC bags.  I love MEC products, but they had to go.  For $100 bags they‘ve done a lot!  But being unable to get the repair parts, we’re a little stuck.  If only they hadn’t insisted on charging $50 to ship a $6 part internationally. 

So as part of the funeral for the bags, we’ve salvaged everything possible:  sinch straps, clips, cords, pockets, sippers, Velcro, everything!  I hate to waste and connot bear to get rid of so much that is still good.  So  now we have extra pouches for storage, extra replacement parts, and bits and bobs for who know’s what (just like my cycle shop owner friend).

Repairs?  Smusmairs!

Just try to stop us now…

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