Having made use of the bathtub, yet again, I headed out looking for a bike shop for my poorly bike. She was not in a good state;

  • The new front panniers which I had bought for this trip had snapped on both sides and were only hanging on by the top clips. 
  • The new rear panniers which I had picked up at Halfords the day before flying turned out not to be at all waterproof and everything inside was soaked. The front were better on this score but still leaked water on the underside for some reason.
  • The rear brake pads were completely shot
  • Front brake pads were almost shot
  • Front wheel not aligned and prone to the odd wobble.
  • Rear cassette on its last legs and the chain slipping with increasing frequency.

Thankfully, after trying a couple of bike shops (The first who looked at my tyres and said “Oh no, we don’t have anything that special here”????) I came across RAD Paradise – One super helpful sales guy who spoke really good English and a German mechanic who didn’t. This led to some interesting three way conversations, but the mechanic filled me with confidence from the first. Some folk just look like they know what they’re doing. 

So whilst he spend two hours on fixing my bike up, I was left free to browse the store (dangerous), drink coffee and consider my options for the next leg of the trip. I knew I was losing half a day, the only half of that day forecast for non rain, so I also knew that I was just going to have to ride in the rain. With this in mind I wanted to make it as comfortable as possible. So on this basis I splashed out €180 on some shiny new 35 litre Ortleib panniers. These are big enough to fit the entire contents of my old front AND rear panniers in, thus loading everything onto the back. I balanced this out a little by cramming a little more of the heavy and dense tech into the handlebar bag.

Something else which caught my eye was a cycling poncho. I’d seen these before, folk wearing them and laughed a little to myself about how ridiculous they look, however there must be a reason that they are prepared to forego style for practicality. As I’ve always been anti the wearing of waterproof trousers (I hate the way they rustle and I like my legs free when I cycle) this was really my only other option I had, so I figured I’d take the plunge.

When I finally left the bike shop around lunchtime I was so much happier. Although it had started to rain lightly almost to the minute that I started riding I was so much happier with the balance on my bike, my preparedness for wet weather and the general feel of the bike. I fact, the German mechanic had done a great job, the bike felt tight and solid. It was so good to get a bit of confidence back in it and once again (about every six months) I resolved to enrol on a mechanics course when I return to the UK.

The 30 or so miles to Schaffhausen would have been a breeze, except for the driving rain and howling head wind. But still, with the bike feeling this good, it wasn’t too bad.

There aren’t too many photos from this leg. For the most part it was head-down, swallowing any sense of fashion (not that I’m allowed any at the age of 42), poncho on and pedalling hard. It did feel good though to breeze into Schaffhausen and check into a hostel. – By the way, cycling poncho? Genius invention.

Now the hostel…hmmm. Where to begin with this one. I decided for this trip that even when I had to use hotels, I wasn’t going to go five star luxury  – just seems wasted on a grubby, tired cyclist alone. So I grabbed a single room in a hostel for the grand price of about £35 for the night.

When I arrived at the bar of the hostel to check in, the owner and the barmaid, who seemed to be in charge, we’re both drunk. As were the 10 or so over 60’s patrons of the bar, shouting at each other over overly loud dance music. The whole scene was a little surreal, added to by the fact that they were all smoking inside the bar (including bar maid smoking behind it!) – something so alien after 10 years of non-smoking pubs in the UK.

But anyway, I checked in and went up to my room – to be fair, for £35, the room was more than adequate and I headed out, feeling hungry, for a small steak;

10 oz of prime fillet, cooked perfectly to rare, not blue or medium. That in itself is a tough ask for such a thick piece of beef. It was delicious.

Feeling full I returned to the hostel to find the owner gone, most of the same patrons still there in much decreased levels of sobriety. Or to put it another way, everyone was smashed. Including the barmaid who was a little amorous when I asked for the WiFi code. Needless to say, I stayed for a beer…

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