ne marche pas

Ne marche pas. Ne marche pas. Ne marche pas.

That is the theme for today.

I’m heading Southeast towards Angers, but I have no interest in *going* to Angers, so I pick a route that goes around. No problem. Just turn off that one road. Road never comes and bang – I’m in the middle of a stressful situation, with a large city and a million suburbs, just trying to get out. Ne marche pas.

I got out of that, but not after one of my panniers continuing to fall off every 20km or so. Go down too big of a curb, falls off. Brush up against something, falls off. Swerve, falls off. Ne marche pas. They’re not the panniers I wanted to use, but it’s what the store had, but they should last more than 1500km.

My handlebar bag just slips down, so the map on the top is unreadable. Ne marche pas.

*I’m* on about my third day of around 100mile rides – that’s a lot and I’m started to not work.

And the kicker – I find, The LOIRE! The mythical river, that separates Northern from Southern France. After the pannier incidents, which is really trying for me, since, while lost, and hot and tired, this thing falls off, I have to take everything off the rack to put it back on. Ne marche pas.

It’s beginning to become a little less bright – and oh! A bike-only path, right by the Loire, to the town I’m going to camp at – perfect! Turn onto the path, down a hill and,

CRACK!

Thud thud, thud thud, thud thud,

from the back there. Now, it could be anything, from the brake, to the derailler,

to the wheel.

And, it’s the wheel. Ne marche pas!

I broke a spoke, first time ever I’ve really done this but again – only 1500km into its use.

It’s on the drive side and I don’t have the tool thingy to take off the cassette cluster, so I just go, “Hmmm” and fiddle with the 23 remaining spokes with little avail and go, “um…” and wrap the broke spoke around one of the working spokes and say to my shadow, “Well, I guess I’ll limp to the next town, pray they have a bike shop that’ll look at this dirty, bearded American and when I say, le rue ne marche pas! and point to the hole the spoke should be at, they’ll light up and go, Pas de problème! and I’ll get that fixed up and maybe get a nylon spoke for next time and that tool thingy for the driveside spoke – not that I know what to do with that nylon emergency spoke or the tool thingy. “

Shadows are as patient as you are, so it’ll wait and listen to all this.

So, with not the best judgement, I unhook the back brake to allow the wheel to spin and limp to the next town, which I find is a scant 4 km away. Good. The first round about has a sign for the Office du Tourisme, has a, Decathlon – a sports store that, if they don’t have a bike mechanic, will be able to point me to one, and a McDonalds (where this free intartube access is coming to).

Which goes to show you, I’m not in the middle of nowhere, I’m in the heart of France, about 2 hour drive (on a bad day) from Paris, and I’ll be fine – at least for the back wheel. Best case scenario: a few euros for a new spoke put in and a truing. Worst case, new wheel. The worst case does allow me one incentive though, I get to go to, le poste and give the man at the counter my rue, and go, ne marche pas – `a Denver! and send the wheel back to the shop who said the thing was bulletproof, with a note saying, (in french, of course) that, “You didn’t believe me when I said I murder bikes, this wheel,

ne marche pas!

Other than tiring my little self out, health wise, I’m fine. knees feel great, even. Have some… well snot. I’m blowing my nose a lot. Maybe a cold? Un petit rhume. And my French *is* actually getting better. In a month, I’ll be able to, well, stumble through a conversation better than I stumble through one now.

The rest of the night, I hope to find a site to camp, hopefully near the Loire – although it’s a bit buggy even inside as I type – in the dark, though, get up and do my ne marche pas jig and then do a scant half day to, Amboise, near Tours and grab a campsite for a couple of days and hopefully, *hopefully* see da Vinci’s final place of residence, and maybe catch a cheesy movie, and lunch.

Wish me luck!