Overall today was a bad day. Without the second bolt holding a metal support of my Rohloff gear system to the frame in the correct way, my gear cables were pulling so tight that changing gears put too much of a strain on them and I thought I’d best disconnect them. This meant being in a single gear for the day. I chose fifth. The rough road continued to make the ride frustratingly slow, but I could be thankful for a gusty tail wind that blew me along at times. Unfortunately, the wind also blew up thick clouds of sand and dust that had me gagging for fresh air. On arrival in Beynou I checked out the prices of four different places to stay. I had all but made up my mind about which one represented the best deal when I came across a fifth place, outside of which were a couple of touring bicycles. I went in and negotiated a price equal to that of the place I was going to stay. I made the mistake of not having a look at the room, which, turned out to be far less nice than the place I had formerly decided to stay. I also made the mistake of not asking if there was a secure place inside I could keep the bike. I was told to keep it out front with the other two, but as I was parking it up I got hounded by a group of annoying little kids who wanted to poke and prod every bit of it and who started getting cheeky when I asked them to leave it alone. They got narky enough that I’m now worried they will do something to it when I’m not around. Overall I think I would have been better off staying at the other place.

The two bicycles already here belong to a pair of ladies, one English and one Italian. As I enjoyed a nice lunch with them at the hotel (which at least has a nice café attached to it) another pair of cyclists turned up. One of these needed to get his front rack welded, so after they settled in we went out in search of a capable welder who might also be able to help me with my ‘stuck bolt’ problem. We found a welder, but was he capable? Absolutely not. Something you can only know in hindsight. The welder did a passable job on the rack, but things became nightmarish when he turned his attention to my problem. I explained that I wanted him to fuse another bolt onto the broken one so I could easily twist the stuck bolt out. He seemed to get the idea, but then he proceeded to blast the shit out of the bolt and frame with his welding torch. What was going through his head I have no idea. By the time I jumped in to stop him, my frame looked like it was on fire and the bolt had melted into a glob. As the guy stepped back. I couldn’t help but start swearing and throwing my arms up in shock and horror. The guy promptly disappeared and I never saw him again. I was left to wait until my bike had cooled down and I could assess the damage. The bolt is still stuck and I am worried it is now fused onto the frame. The narrow part of frame adjacent to the bolt is now even narrower, thanks to the melting action of the welder. In short, my frame is damaged and I don’t know how serious it is. It’s many hours later and I am still fuming over the situation.

I went home, locked up the bike (dealing with the little shits of kids again) and was just about to lock myself in my room and distract myself from thinking about the bike issue. This was when the lady running the hotel asked me how my trip to the welder went. I had a conversation with her through Google Translate about it. She ended up calling her brother Morat who speaks perfect English. I explained to him what happened and he said he will ask around for me and see if there is someone in town who can help. I am hoping to hear more from Morat tomorrow.

After a nice dinner with the other four cyclists, I had just locked myself in my room and was readying for bed when I had a knock on the door. The lady in charge told me I had friends downstairs. Lo and behold, there was Dorothea and Piotrek. Having caught a train to Beynou, they are hanging out until early in the morning when they will be catching another train to Aktau, the town to which I will be riding over about five days, once I get my bike up and running that is. I had a nice chat with them and another farewell. It is now unlikely we will cross paths again, but stranger things have happened. I am now in my ‘not-as-good-as-what-I-know-I-could-get-for-the-same-price’ room, hoping the dribbling sound in my toilet will shut up, wishing my TV was working so I can distract myself with a crappy music channel, and swatting away the mosquitoes that won’t leave me alone. The one good thing about this place is that it has now given me a contact who might be able to help me with my bike. At the same time if it wasn’t for the joker of a welder I met today, there wouldn’t be any need for such help.

Just to finish off my bad day, I received confirmation (symptoms) that Giardia is making a comeback in my system. I’ve been off the meds for a week, expecting to be better, but it seems I still have some cysts left in my system, the spawn of which still need to be exterminated.

Let’s hope for a better day tomorrow.

No good help out here

Accommodation $ Hotel
Distance ridden today 40.07km
Average cycling speed 13.8kph
Total distance ridden 22,572km