The few weeks before we set out on this journey we were busy preparing everything and saying good bye to all our friends. The winter was unusually cold and one night I rode my bike along the icy cold streets of Göteborg to the yacht harbour to visit my friend and second cousin Greta at her sailing yacht. We had a nice evening and shared a bottle of wine. Greta interviewed me in detail about our coming trip and being an person who really likes outdoor adventures she asked if it was OK if she joined us somewhere along the route.
To be honest, I think neither Greta nor I really believed that it would become a reality for her to visit us. The logistical challenges were simply too difficult but two months ago we started to e-mail each other about the issue. A few days later Greta had bought a ticket, got her vacation approved and yesterday she arrived to Kunming airport. Our plan is to cycle together to Luang Prabang in Laos where she
will catch a flight back home to Göteborg.
When Wej and I arrived to Kunming five days ago it was raining and less than ten degrees. We stayed in a shared apartment with a German cyclist we had met along the way. Since the distance from Kunming to Luang Prabang is too long to be able to cover during the time Greta is here, we will have to start cycling from Mojiang some 250 km south of Kunming.
The elevation profile from Kunming to Mojiang is flat or downhill with only a few not so big climbs. Wej and I thought we could cycle there in two days and I would than catch a bus back to Kunming to meet Greta and then take her to Mojiang.
Before we started to cycle to Mojiang we got a message from another cyclist riding a few days ahead of us that the small road beside the highway south of Kunming was in a bad condition. Since the weather was good we coldn’t wait to get moving again but as soon as we got out of the urban area we ended up on a muddy road full of water filled potholes. Both our bikes and ourselves got completely covered in mud and after a while I could feel a scratching feeling from my bottom bracket. The feeling wouldn’t get away even after I rinsed the chain and the chanrings.
Not knowing what the problem was we decided to return to Kunming, get my bike fixed and wait for Greta’s arrival. The mechanic at one of Kunming’s best bicycle shops told me that my bottom bracket was OK but that my middle chain ring was completely worn out and my bearings and cone in my rear hub needed to be changed.
The components on my bicycle seem to have unusual sizes and the bicycle shop we visited had no bottom bracket and chain ring of the right size. Greta was going to make a short stopover in Bangkok to borrow a bike from our friend Mah who also happens to be the owner of BokBokBike which is Bangkok’s best touring bike shop. Since the shop in Kunming didn’t have the parts we sent a mail to Mah to include two new tyres, two bottom brackets, new chainrings and some other minor parts in the box with Greta’s bike.
This long journey has taken its toll on our bikes but now we hope they are ready for the remaining +2000 km to Bangkok.
We are so happy to have Greta here and we will try to do our best to introduce her to bicycle touring. We just hope the weather in Yunnan and Laos will cooperate…..