Alas, alas, for Barnaba is dead!
At 10.30 today we left Maastricht for Köln, stopping off in town to pick up some directions via Aachen. Still slightly confused by the bad directions, I resorted to the one thing that invariably leads to disaster whenever I attempt it; multi-tasking. Whilst rolling along in the cycle lane and reading the map, my limited attention was unable to take in the van that would have been filling my field of vision, had I actually been looking ahead. It was a perfect collision; no injuries, no broken spokes, just a bump, before I went to the van driver to apologise... and realised that my front wheel wouldn't turn left to right. Here's why...
Bent, battered and bruised.
After a little chat (the van driver thought this was the funniest thing ever, and will no doubt be telling the story for weeks), we popped the late Barnaba in the back of his conveniently empty van and he agreed to drive me to the local car mechanic, as Tobes and I figured that was our bet bet for a spot of welding. Ed Boosten, the mechanic, stopped his day off to take a couple of hours to fix up the frame and indeed turned out to be, as his colleague said, the 'nicest man in all Maastricht'! He did a pretty good job of putting it all back together, welding the crack in the top tube and cutting out the crumpled section of downtube and replacing it with a bit from another old bike frame. It seems the legend of fixing up steel frames en route turns out to be true, as I am writing this 200 kms further down the road in Bingen-am-Rhein and have had no trouble whatsoever, so far.
The 'nicest man in Maastricht' at work
However, this is not a time for stubbornness. Four mechanics have since told me that this frame will absolutely, no way, never, ever make it to Greece, and so a major headache of the last few days has involved talking to frame-builders and bike shops and trying to get hold of a replacement steel frame (nigh on impossible in Germany it seems, where bikes are sold only complete). Instead, I have decided to keep it simple and get Brixton Cycles in London to send me out a new Cross-Check frame almost the same size; ultimate kudos to those guys for sorting me out! Hopefully it should meet me around Heidelberg where I'll be stopping off for a few days, so I'll have time to rebuild the bike. This is all of course totally in line with the yo-yoing fortunes of the trip so far and anyway, it would just be boring if I didn't have any problems right?
RIP Barnaba, long live Frankenbike!