Saturday, 26 April 2014

Ride nineteen Celestes operation goes well

There comes a time in every mans life when he has to dig deep into his inner self and his wallet, and fix his bloody bike. Yep, today was the official 'sort celeste out once and for all' day, so it was back to Guloglu Bisiklet in Famagusta once again to see what the damage was.

I sprinted into town on the aero bars overtaking parked cars with ease. The terminal headache I had when I woke up disappeared as soon as I got on the bike, distraction is a powerful medicine.

As always I was greeted like an old friend by Kutret at the bike shop with a warm smile and "welcome welcome sir!" What a difference to the usual stony looks and 'can't do' attitude prevalent in bike shops across the UK I thought.

I took my customary white plastic oils stained seat and instantly felt that Celeste was in good hands. Looking at the wheels we both smiled a knowing smile, its a special smile reserved for use between bike rider and bike mechanic. It's a smile that needs no words to say, " sorry mate but your wheels are f*cked!"

We both knew this was crunch day for Celeste. She had to have the op.

With very little shaking of heads or rolling of eyes, or even the traditional English bike mechanics tutting, we agreed a price of just 120TL (about £34)  to re build both wheels! Not only that but he could do it right there and then while I waited for a couple of hours even though the shop was buzzing with clients, broken bikes and the air resonated to the dulcet tones of dance music mobile phone ring tons every minute. This is a busy workshop.

I settled into my chair and waited. What I got was a master class in how to build a wheel, and re true it right in front of me. I also learnt that to do the job properly it is important to be able to fixed two other bikes, answer the phone and deal with customers in the shop all at the same time with a smile on your face and a can do attitude. British bike shops could do worse that to watch and learn what customer service is actually about.

I will still buy new wheels when I get back to the UK. However I now have a good set of winter and training wheels as a back up to my new wheels set when I get it.

I am confident that I will win the lottery soon and be able to buy a brand new Merida, or Cube full carbon frame dura ace fitted bike. I will also buy a new top of the range Bianchi while I am at it. These are things a man needs. But for now Celeste is rolling again.

Two young boys came into the bike shop. One dressed in a full new green local football team strip, accompanied by his Dad. The other a bit younger with his young parents. The footballer was more interested in bikes than football, much to the obvious inconvenience of his Dad it seemed. The younger lad's eyes lit up with the sight of the new red Cembio Scala bike his parents were keen to splash out on for him. I was sure I had seen Northern Cyprus' first TDF winners starting their new careers today. The football Dad told his son to put down the pump, the water bottles, the tyres, the bell, the saddles, the energy gels, the protein drinks and dragged him outside. The smaller lad took his first ever ride, around the car park in the mid day sun while his parents and the the mechanic who fitted the stabilisers clapped and cheered him on. Cycling history was being made made.

As parents our job should be to make our kids dreams reality, not make our kids achieve the dreams we ourselves never lived.

The spokes were shooting across the room like arrows as they were cut away from the hubs and rims. This was cause for much amusement for those in the firing line, including me. One missed my lower leg by a few millimetres and buried itself deep into a cardboard bike box nearby. I was reminded of a documentary I saw once where 'expert archery nerds' were testing medieval long bows by shooting them at pig carcasses. I wondered if William the Conquerers longbow men had invented the bicycle spoke during their lunch break at the battle of Hastings.

All of this took place to the musical accompaniment of the local church choir located somewhere behind the bike shop. To my ears it sounded similar to the gospel choirs I had heard in the hills surrounding the harbour on the island of St. Thomas USVI. Given this is a Muslim country I suspect this was nothing of the sort, but it sounded like their God would appreciate it. I know Cyclops did.

Leaving the shop floor covered in spoke cuttings, much like at blokes R' us barbers, I said farewell to Kutret and sped off at speed out of Famagusta. The ride was faster, the wheels stiffer and more responsive. Sure, they are not top class Tour quality wheels, but they do the job and for the price I was happy.
So, for any cyclists visiting Northern Cyprus be sure to visit guloglu Bisiklet in Famagusta. It's not as pretty as UK hi tech shops, but the service is much better and it's a lot cheaper. Parts for high end bikes are very thin on the ground because of import restrictions I guess from the Eurozone, but if you accept what is, and run with it, your bike will be happy here.

The sprint back was fun. I had a tailwind and several toots from motorists waving good luck, as if I was on the last stage of Le Tour instead of a quick sprint back from the bike hospital!

The sky has clouded over here as the humidity increases. It's perfect for riding. I hope tomorrow will be similar so I can crack on with the last ride I had to cut short to go on this latest little adventure. Everything happens for good reasons and had my spoke not broke at the bottom of the mountain the day before yesterday I would not now have two newly built wheels for £34!

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