- We went looking for koalas,
- cycled through a patch of devil thorns,
- got four flat tyres in rapid succession, and
- struggled to get David's rear wheel seated back into it's cradle.
We had a longish drive ahead of us from Griffith to Mildura, about four and a half hours and we were heartily fed up with dealing with the consequences of our dance with the devil thorns so we decided to put the problem off once more and fix the bikes at our destination - as things turned out this was a serious mistake.
Our route took us across the Hay Plain - hot, dry and monotonous. Usually David drives first on long trips, then I give him a break for a while before he takes the final shift. Today we altered our routine. I drove for the first few hours. While in the passenger's seat I tend to keep an eye on the bikes. I can see them through the side mirror. If they don't look quite right I turn around and check. This habit has saved us from disaster more than once, but generally only when we are overseas and using a less secure bike rack which straps to the back of the car. In Australia we have a rack attached to the towbar and except for one memorable occasion when we forgot to tie down the straps holding my bike we have never had a problem.
David takes a much more 'she'll be right' attitude. Either the position of his seat doesn't give him a view of the bikes or he just doesn't bother to check - I'm not sure which.
|Notice something missing?|
Several hundred kilometres along the road from Griffith we changed drivers. Now in the passenger seat I did a quick check of the bikes. Something didn't look quite right.
"Your rear wheel is missing," I tried to sound calm.
"Pull over. I think your back wheel is gone." I couldn't quite comprehend the obvious.
Safely off the road we confirmed the worst. The rear wheel of David's bike had disappeared.
Do you remember how stressed he was when he couldn't get the wheel seated back in yesterday? (You can click here for the blog post). Do you also remember he had to rush because it was getting late, we had run out of inner tubes and my tyre was going flat at the same time? There is a little nut on the side of the wheel and a lever on the other side. The lever has to be pushed in and the nut tightened once the wheel is in its cradle. It seems that David just forgot to tighten the nut - Ooooppps!
We have no idea when the wheel fell off. Five minutes of panicked discussion about whether it was worth turning around brought us to the conclusion that it could have been hundreds of kilometres back and even if we found the wheel it might be damaged beyond repair.
The funny thing was we had stopped twice in the last few hundred kilometres and neither of us noticed anything wrong. The first time we pulled over to photograph a flock of emus by the side of the road. The second time we both walked around the back of the car past the bikes to change drivers. Maybe the wheel was still there when we stopped for the emus but it must have been gone when we changed drivers because I noticed it was missing almost immediately afterward.
|A flock of emus on the Hay Plain.|
I wasn't too concerned. A new wheel couldn't cost us more than $150. David was less optimistic. His bike, a Giant, had 27.5" wheels, a size peculiar to Giant. In far western New South Wales he thought it unlikely we could find a replacement without ordering it in advance.
By the time we pulled in to Mildura I had googled the location of the local Giant dealer. We drove straight there. No luck! That night we hit the internet looking for Giant dealers anywhere between us and Kangaroo Island. There was no hope of a replacement on the island. We started with Giant's three dealers in Adelaide. Adelaide was a hour out of our way but we thought it was our best chance. Still no luck. We had worked our way south to Victor Harbor where we finally got lucky - really lucky. We had planned a night at Victor Harbor before catching the car ferry to Kangaroo Island. It should have been the first place to check but Victor Harbor is a small town and we were sure they wouldn't have a Giant dealer let alone the wheel we needed.
Spence and Shirley Sunter at Victor Harbor Cycles were fantastic. They had the wheel we needed. They were open the next day, a Saturday, until 3 pm. Google maps said it was almost a five hour drive. All we had to do was get there on time. No stopping to photograph emus this time - we did see several large flocks though as we flashed past.
|We found these guys a week or so later at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve. Weird how the baby's knees are bent forward.|
The bad news was the new wheel would cost $300 by the time we added the gear assembly and inner tube. The good news was we had five hours to reach the conclusion that what David really needed was a new bike. Another phone call to Spence.
'Yes,' he had the 2015 version of David's bike - the cost was $699.
David loved his bike but even though it was only 18 months old it had been damaged not long after we bought it - it just wasn't worth fixing again. (Click here for the sad tale) We arrived at Victor Harbor with an hour to spare, headed straight to the bike shop and bought D a shiny new bicycle. Spence changed over David's much loved seat and handle bars from his old bike and fixed my flat tyres. He also installed a liquid sealant, called Stan's Notubes to keep us puncture free, for a while at least.
|D's shiny new bike.|
If you are ever in Victor Harbor and want to buy or rent a bike call in on Spence and Shirley; they are lovely people. And if you are driving across the Hay Plain and see a lone bicycle wheel sitting by the road now you know how it got there!
Note: Neither Victor Harbor Cycles nor Stan's NoTubes gave us anything in return for mentioning them in this post. I have given links to them both because Stan's NoTubes is a product which would have saved us a lot of grief had we known about it and Spence and Shirley were really helpful and didn't once laugh at us for managing to lose an entire bicycle wheel.