The Chain Gang

By Stephen Ewashkiw | September 11, 2013

6447 km so far.

A day of chores.

Today was one of those days that is essential to keep a journey like ours moving, but it also is quite soul-sucking. While in reality we accomplished a lot that will help get us to the next stage of our trip, it feels like we did nothing worthwhile, because the results of our effort won’t be realised for days, or even weeks.

Chain Chain Chain

We rode our bikes today! Admittedly it was only about 3 km to the bike shop, but still, it was nice to be on them instead of Berlin’s underground system. Riding, it took us about a third of time the U would take to get to the shop.

Our bikes are now in for repair. We have worked them hard since they were last in the shop, at Recikli way back in Budapest, some 4,000 km ago. Jane is having a new front wheel built after her accident in Estonia, my front wheel also needs some work, we need new brake pads, and our chains and cassettes need replacing. Plus, I am upgrading my power-generating capabilities while we are in the land of the dynamo.

The bike shop, Radspannerei, is unlike any we encountered in Los Angeles. They specialise in touring bikes, carrying only steel frames, and have several Surly bikes and bike parts in stock. Also, we made an appointment for our repair a few days ago, so they are actually working on our bikes today, and will have them ready, if all goes smoothly, tonight.

Maybe German efficiency is still alive and well?

Screen Burn

We spent the rest of the day staring at our computer screens. It was not exciting, but was necessary work. I would have much rather been doing just about anything else, as was evident by my lack of focus today. Thankfully, Jane is a master at keeping us on track, and she managed the whole process without once, outwardly, yelling at me to stay on task.

Jane’s note: There was lots of under-my-breath swearing, I can assure you.

After hours of looking up hotels, messaging various people, searching through countless reams of information, and compiling our own volume of Here Is How You Get A Chinese Tourist Visa, I am beginning to feel like one of Jesse’s philologist friends.

Jane’s note: We should probably be excited since we booked our plane tickets to Beijing today. We don’t fly for a few weeks though, because we have been told to avoid Chinese National Week, when everyone is off of of work, at all costs. So, the cost for us will be hanging out in Europe for about 10 extra days.

Oops, There Goes Another Gear

We got a call this afternoon to say there were a few setbacks with our bikes, and they won’t actually be ready tonight. So much for German efficiency. It turns out they ordered the wrong cassettes and now have to reorder the correct one, which they won’t get in until Friday. With Jane heading out of town this weekend on a solo trip this is only slightly annoying.

It looks like today was successfully spent, as we are ready to send our Chinese visa applications in tomorrow. However, we will only truly know if it was time well spent if and when we get the visa and they let us into China. We will, obviously, let you know how it goes.  

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