Now that the paperback edition of Follow the Blue Line: Cycling the Algarve is available, I’d really like to make sure a copy gets into the hands of someone who helped save the ride.
Help me find the #SleafordBikeHeroOnTheAlgarve.
Cycling and the Kindness of Strangers
There are some serious hills between Praia da Luz and Sagres. The struggle of climbing (or even pushing) can be quickly forgotten with the joy of a quick downhill. Unfortunately, one of my most spectacular descents was ruined by my front tube exploding causing my tyre to deflate instantaneously.
For a seasoned cyclist like me, a flat tyre isn’t a big issue. I pushed the bike to the bottom of the hill before flipping it on its back to make the repair.
When we collected our bikes from the airport, I remember being handed a spanner but on inspecting my friends’ bikes, which all had quick release wheels, I told the courier we didn’t need it.
This would have been fine if, like all my friends’ bikes, my bike had a quick release wheel. It didn’t and I definitely needed that spanner.
While trying to decide what to do next, Dave produced an envelope he had been presented by the charity we were supporting which had the words, “Only to be opened in times of crisis,” printed on it.
Undoubtedly, this was as near to a crisis as we were ever going to reach on this trip.
Dave handed me the envelope and I removed the floral designed card inside.
The card read, “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go remember how far you’ve come. Remember everything you’ve faced, all the battles you’ve won and all the fears you’ve overcome. The #GetYourBellyOut Community (a fundraising initiative from supporters of Crohns and Colitis UK) is with you, every step of the way. You’ve got this.”
The card had been signed by loads of people, which we all agreed was really nice but as much use to us now, we joked, as a chocolate fire poker. The time for words was over, we needed a spanner.
We didn’t panic and set about trying to fix the puncture without removing the wheel. The self-adhesive patches I had packed from home were next to useless. Next, we tried the puncture repair kits provided by the hire company but the tubes of glue had set like rubber and were no good. I was considering tying a knot in the tube and then trying to re-inflate it or perhaps stuffing the tyre with grass (because there is always a way out of these situations) before I hit on the bright idea of stopping traffic. The only problem being — we were in the middle of nowhere and there was very little traffic on the road.
We waited a couple of minutes before the first car came by. It stopped but had no toolkit. Another couple of minutes later passed before another vehicle came our way and again it stopped. Again the driver had no toolkit — but he did have an apartment 15 minutes away and promised to return with an adjustable spanner — which he duly did.
We replaced the tube, waved our saviour off and started climbing in the direction of Sagres and ultimately Cape St. Vincent.
I didn’t catch the gentleman’s name but he told me that he hailed from the Lincolnshire town of Sleaford which is quite close to my hometown. We had no other way of thanking him other than words. Wouldn’t it be nice if those words could be extended in the form of this book? I wonder if he will ever read it and think — wow that’s about me.
I challenge social media to find the #SleafordBikeHeroOnTheAlgarve and get this book into his hands.