Skjeberg to Tanemshede

Distance 86km
Time 5h56

My bike wheel and derailleur completely destroyed today.

I woke up in the campsite and had 3 helpings of museli and jam and one helping of coffee, then went to fill my water bottles and wash my pots. I cycled away in the wrong direction but quickly realised my error and doubled back.

Again, the cycle route was not direct and I just stuck as closely to the motorway (which goes directly to Gothenburg) as possible. There are minor roads zig-zagging along side it.

It was only 10km to the border with Sweden and I was soon there. I didn’t see any sign explictly saying “Welcome to Sweden”, but there was a bridge crossing a river which seems to act as the border. Before crossing I went in to a “Boutik” to try and spend some of my Norwegian kronas, but couldn’t really think of anything to buy - so I just got a loaf of bread and a pastry. I sat down and ate the pastry, which was dry and disapointing, and I assumed the same of the bread, but as it turned out the bread was pretty good.

Bridge over the border Bridge Over Bordered Waters

So then I was in Sweden, and again I was following the motorway rather than the cycle route. On my map the road is coloured white - which usually means that its a very minor country road, but actually it seems to be the old main road. It was suffering a little from lack of maintainence, and there were derelict rest areas and abandonned restaurants and shops along the route.

Flags Flying Flags Flying

I made pretty good progress in good time, as most of the terrain was flat, when the terrain was not flat, I was careful not to strain my gears too much.

At around 12 I started looking for a place to have lunch, but couldn’t find any benches or anywhere to sit down, so I just carried on, aiming to hit the town I now know is “Tanumshede”. On the way I listened to Tom Waits, and was quietly singing along to the “Rain Dogs”.

Bjork Bjork

About 10km from the town, when I was riding up a minor hill, my gears crunched and then I couldn’t pedal anymore. The pedals would not move and a lorry (which happened to be passing, the road was not busy) beeped at me as I was somewhat further into the road than I would have like to have been when I “lost power”.

I turned round and manuvoured my bike to the side of the road and had a look. The problem was that when I changed the cable yesterday, the cable was too long and I didn’t have any wire cutters to remove the end, so I just left it “sticking out”. Somehow this loose end had become entangled in the chain and run itself into the derailleur, after disentangling the cable the gears were still not right, and I couldn’t figure out why. The derailleur was at a wrong angle, so I just use brute force and bent it into an angle where the chain would pass.

This solution worked, it was worse than before, but I could still cycle and I made it to the town. My mission was still to find somewhere to eat - and it was really hot, I had already gone through both my water bottles and half of my 1.5 liter backup bottle. The water in both my bottles was warm. I eventually (it wasn’t easy) found a bench in the town and sat down and had a can of baked beans and some of the actually quite good bread.

A diverse range of people walked passed me, a pensioner with a walking frame, an African kid on a bike, a Muslim family and some young kids making strange noises. This diversity was also very common in Norway, though not, peculiarly, in Denmark.

I decided to pedal on, and made my way back to the main street and started cycling down it, I noticed another touring bicycle parked outside a Thai restaurant, and wondered if it was one of the couples I had already met on my journey, and then CRACK!

Disaster Wheel Catastrophic Bike Failure

My chain slipped and there was a crunch of gears and my bike was completely immobile. I said “SHIT!”. I got off and inspected the damage. It was a disaster. The derailleur itself had bent back and become entangled in the wheel spokes, and had broken several of them. I stood looking at this mess for about 5 minutes and it slowly began to realise that I would not be able to fix this, at least not completely. There was little to no chance I could fix the derailleur - so my priority was just making the bike mobile again.

I removed the broken spokes, but the wheel would not turn. It was buckled and the mud guard was obstructing it’s rotation. If I removed the mud guard the wheel might be able to rotate. The mud guard was attached with bolts - and I didn’t have any tool to unscrew them - luckily they were loose and I was able to unscrew them with my fingers, it was still affixed, more firmly with braces attached to the forks, which I could not remove, but without the other two screws the mudguard was loose enough to allow the wheel to pass.

Whilst I was engaged in this, I realised I needed a bike engineer. I asked a passing woman if she knew of a bike shop “I had a problem with my bike the other day, and there is a shopping center, I will show you where” “.. and there is an Intersport there”. I thanked her, and when my bike was mobile again I jogged with it (about 3km) to the shopping center. I didn’t dare put my weight on the wheel and risk buckling it even more.

At the shopping center there was no “Intersport” but there was a “Sport” shop, I left my bike outside and went in and found the shop, they did indeed sale bikes, but when I asked if they did repairs “No, we don’t do that” “Do you know a place that does?” “err, yes. You can go to Westmanns, I will show you where” and I showed me where on my phone.

I jogged then to this shop which was another kilometer or so, I jogged because it was already around 15:00 and wanted to maximise my chances of having it fixed today.

“Do you do repairs? Could you fix my bike?” “err, yes, But not today, we have 20 bike repairs queued” I said it was somewhat of an emergency and he said he would ask the engineer, who came out of the workshop and looked at the bike.

“I have the parts, but I don’t have the time to fix it, but there is another man in town who does bicycle repairs, he has a workshop in his garage” he said he would ring him for me. He rang, and he rang but there was no answer. He then said, “well, you could wait here and we could ring again, or this is his card, he lives only 700m down the road”. I decided to visit his house.

When I got there I knew it was the right place because the house had “Sykelrepairs” (or similar) written above the garage, I rang the door bell and there was some commotion inside and it was answered by an Asian older woman and a young girl and an old girl. “Hi!” “Hello!” “Do you speak English” the woman looked confused and looked towards her youngest daughter (who was maybe 10) for help, she didn’t speak perfect English but communicated enough “She it not here, she at work” (I think she meant He, his name was Tolbörg) but come back after 17:00. “Maybe tomorrow?” “No also work tomorrow”. I thanked them and walked back to the bicycle shop.

As I was walking it struck me that I could perform the repair myself if I had the parts, and I looked at the bike and then at the sprockets then remembered that I would need to transfer the sprockets onto the new wheel, and I had no tool to do that (and I didn’t even know how), but I could probably fit the derailleur myself, so I went back to propose a plan “I don’t know how time-intensive it is, but maybe if you could change the sprocket onto a new wheel I could do the rest myself?”. The mechanic didn’t look like he thought I could and was trying to tell me something, but his English wasn’t to good.

In the end, he said. If you take the wheel off, then I’ll change the sprocket, then you can change the tire and inner tube and mount the wheel on the bike, then call me back.

This done, I went to call him, but there were five customers, the guy was dreadfully busy. When they had left he came out and looked at the bike and noticed that not only was the derailleur broken (we couldn’t tell how) but the frame (or at least the part of the frame holding the derailleur was bent). He had a tool to fix it, and he bent it back into shape, but the derailleur still didn’t act correctly (every time it shifted up, it veneered straight into the spokes again).

He analysed it and tried to figure out how to save it, there was probably some way to bend it back into shape again. I wonder if the initial problem was the bent frame, and if I had broken the derailleur by bending it into position, or if I had bent the frame. But regardless, the guy thought that the derailleur was savable “Could it be fixed?” “Everything can be fixed, it’s just a question of time and money”. We decided to fit a new derailleur. He didn’t have the exact one required, but had something close, he showed it to me and waited. “So, shall I just fix it on there?” “It will be better if I take the bike into my workshop”. So he did, and I stood and watched him as he nimbly fitted the new derailleur, and even removed some links on my stretched chain and did his best to tune the gears: “It’s not great, but it’s OK. You haven’t got all gears, but you have some.”

I was very grateful to him. In the end he probably spent an hour or more of his time helping me. He charged me for the wheel and the derailleur but wouldn’t charge for his labour. If he hadn’t have helped me I’m not sure what I would have done, but it’s likely I would be stuck in the town for at least another day.

I chucked the destroyed wheel into the skip and cycled onto the towns campsite (which was just 1km down the road). My bike still needs some looking at - the mud guards need re-fixing, and the rear break no longer seems to work (though I don’t think it’s serious).

The replacement wheel is just a mountain bike wheel, and the derailleur is not as good as the one it replaced. The back wheel is a slight concern as it has to hold quite a bit of weight (the older one was purposely heavy and strong), but I think it will get me to Gothenburg, though not so sure it would survive a repeat of this tour.

I arrived at the campsite covered in oil. I have no Swedish cash only card, and asked if I could “buy” some cash, he replied “only for the shower”. I needed a shower “How many showers do you need?” I should have said fifty.

Pea Soup Improved Pea Soup

PEA SOUP: Before leaving the campsite I took some of my dried peas and put them in a container with water. They doubled in size and looked like frozen peas. The aim was to make a thick pea soup - but after 45 minutes of cooking they were soft enough to eat, but not mushy, and not a creamy soup. But a big improvement on my last attempt.