Nina, Oh-so-reliable... Yeah right!

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
Trip End Feb 02, 2011

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Flag of Italy  , Lombardy,
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This morning we ran completely to schedule, leaving Aurelia's flat exactly as planned by eight. Maybe the neighbour whose car we had parked in needing to be let out for work at eight had something to do with it. Little did we know how our schedule was about to be thrown out of whack.

Riding out of Torino was pretty stressful and damn unpleasant travelling at peak hour, but when we got out into the farmland it was much less stressful. The straight roads through all the fields growing corn, wheat and rice are very beautiful, but in a saddening kind of way. It’s the same sadness that I feel looking at a city a night from far away, it looks beautiful all those sparkling colours and lights but what is all that light shining up into space for? Who needs all that light up there? All I can think of is all the pollutants filling the world to keep them running. Masses of food growing in such a removed way, tended by machines, reminds me how far away from the food on our plates we really are. Bring back the days of everyone safe and sound in their homes after dark and home grown food.

For Felix though, the straight roads mean tough riding, getting stiff and sore arms and back from always pushing with one arm and pulling on the other side to keep Nina straight.

At ten o’clock we stopped for breakfast in a very small farming village. Nina had been running absolutely beautifully, she was singing along. Felix had even been quietly bragging to a friend how well she had been going lately. So naturally, just to put us back in our place and remind us she was actually Nina The Russian Bitch, something had to go wrong.

We had just finished enjoying our pizza with strange tasting cheese for breakfast and were back on the road flying along smoothly through the fields under the hot Mediterranean Sun, when Nina just sputtered to a stop. When Felix tried to get her to start again she would start once in every five tries, but only for a few seconds before dying again. So off we climbed, helmets came off, jackets came off and the toolbox came out.

For the next two or three hours Felix tested for every possible thing that could be the fault. The mid-day sun was burning down, and not a tree nearby, we sweated and burnt. The road we were on seemed to be a highway for tractors and as many tractors as cars came past towing every kind of farm machinery you could think of, even one I’ve not seen before for the rice paddies with metal wheels like circular saw blades rather then tyres. Felix narrowed the problem down to the electrics, most likely a non-serviceable, Ural specific part of the electronic ignition system. Well…the closest Ural dealer was one hundred and forty kilometres away and we were in the middle of a wheat farm.

Thank goodness for 'navi’, our friend in the iPhone with so much geographical wisdom, and for Northern Italy being as flat as a pancake where we were. In the hot sunshine we pushed Nina two kilometres to the closest town where navi assured us there was a train station where we could not directly, but without too much trouble, catch a train to Cremona where we could get our much needed spare part.

So we rolled through the village of Candia Lonellina, sweating, panting and red in the face to the train station, which despite having a timetable dated December 2009, didn’t look like it had been used for twenty years. Me, in a characteristically bad mood sat in the shade and alternately every few minutes knitted and blew my nose that was running like a tap from Hayfever and a cold. Felix went to the post office and managed to find the only person who spoke English in the whole village.

Mauro, an Italian postal worker spoke very good English and was like a guardian angel to us. He arranged for us to park Nina behind the post office and offered to drive us to another station where the trains were much more frequent (The Candia Lonellina station is still in use, but trains stop at it very irregularly). Along the way we stopped at a friend of his who used to own a Russian bike and had a Russian wife. The visit, very friendly as it was, was not much help and this being Italy, it was a very slow business, setting us back another hour from getting to Cremona where we were hoping to get to before the shop closed at six thirty.

At the Mortara Station Mauro helped us with tickets, showed us where to catch the bus back to Candia Lonellina and offered us a beer at the station café, insisting he payed. He had just returned from travelling in Brazil yesterday and before he left, gave us each a Brazilian ten-cent piece for good luck. Such a kind-hearted generous man. We will always be indescribably thankful for the help he gave us.

So now we are on a zigzag through North Italy and hopping across different country trains for the next three hours on our way to Cremona desperately hoping and counting on many things. Felix’s diagnosis of our problem being correct, the dealer having the part we need and Illaria with her ‘good English skills’ being there so someone can understand what we need. The odds are on our side though so we should be ok.
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M, M, J n E on

Ok, oh you poor things, Flex looked really frustrated (MAria) , Maybe you could swap the bike for a BMW (Michi von Pusswelda). No comment from Jelly and i say what was that red stuff!

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