A Rare Sight

I decided to ride my hire bicycle into Alkmaar first thing in the morning to take some photos before getting on the road. We only had a couple of hours motoring to do so I had plenty of time. Just 1 km from the centre of town and there was a bang behind me and the rear wheel jammed solid, skidding left and right before I managed to stop. I alighted to investigate what had happened and saw bits of half inch wide elastic sticking out from the wheel hub. Most hire bikes in The Netherlands are supplied with a parcel rack on the rear mudguard and something for holding luggage in place and prevent it from falling off, in this case elastic. This had somehow got entwined in the rear wheel and caused the trouble. I managed to free most of it, but couldn’t help to mentally draw parallels between bicycles and MG’s!

I eventually remounted the cycle only to find that some of the elastic had jammed in the gear change and the only way I could proceed was to scoot the machine into motion, then jump onto it and pedal wildly just to keep going. I returned to the hotel and retrieved Bridget.

As we drove away from the hotel I put my foot on the brakes and was alarmed to discover the pedal moved almost to the floor before anything happened. I stopped and checked the level of the brake fluid which was fine. I concluded that there must be quite a lot of air in at least one of the brake hoses, but bleeding brakes at the side of the bust road was not something I wanted to do. I drove on a little way and found an industrial estate with a Renault dealership. I asked if one of their mechanics could just bleed Bridget’s brakes which seemed to amuse them. Although they weren’t prepared to take on the task themselves they did re-direct me to another garage on the estate, one Nic Smit, at Fleminstraat 15. Nic specialises in maintaining American cars of which there are apparently quite a few in the area. Colin is the main man at the garage and readily agreed to help me out refusing any consideration for his trouble. Petrol heads sticking together.

The day’s drive up to Niekerk was uneventful and, as the sun made a rare appearance, even pleasant. Bridget and I were on our way to meet up with Jan and Aafke Sol who we had met just over a week earlier at the car club in Kimber House. They invited us to visit and were so enthusiastic I was delighted to take up their offer.

Jan and Aafke, and their lovely daughter, entertained me royally. Their daughter’s name is unusual to English people but I learnt to pronounce it, although unfortunately forgot to find out how to spell it. They were kind enough to show me some of the local culture and fed me a great meal of local food.

The following day we bid our farewells and Bridget and I set off for Neumunster. After some fifty miles I noticed that the speedometer had ceased to work so I pulled up at the next service station to investigate. Everything appeared properly connected so I suspect the cable has snapped. I will need to plan a hotel stay some days ahead and then get Moss to forward a replacement cable to the hotel. It is a nuisance as I use the mileage to check fuel usage, not trusting the fuel gauge. I also discovered that the hazard lights were not working. The inline fuse had been subject to some heat as it had blown the fuse and one of the ends was ‘welded’ to the fuse holder. I replaced the fuse and will try to discover the cause later. Everything else operates correctly.

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