'Bent Miles, An Online Bike Touring Magazine
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April 2008 Volume 6 Issue 7
Some years ago while looking on the internet, I stumbled across the most beautiful bike my eyes had ever beheld. I was infatuated; I was mesmerized; I was spellbound. Are you clear on this? I loved that bike. I wanted one. I even did a bit of a write-up on it right here in one of our early issues in volume one. I posted a picture of it. I linked to their site. When I asked them to reciprocate, I was turned down. So, I took their link off.
At some point, about four years ago, I contacted them and they agreed to reduce the price of the bike because it would be seen on our site which has recorded in excess of 300,000 hits in one month. I was ready to buy. Then, I got sick. Any new bike would have to be put on the back burner. Even my bike rides got more sparse. My tax advisor told me I could not claim tax deductions from our site. My writings fell away. My interest waned. While I still had an interest in writing, it was not so much about biking; it was towards more controversial topics such as medical and political issues.
At some point, I,once again, started looking at this work of art. I yearned in my innermost being for this bike. It's lines just screamed out "COMFORT" and beauty. "I'll write them and see if they will still honor their reduced price promise", I thought. When I received their reply, I was not surprised to hear that they could not honor such an old price arrangement. Knowing and believing with all that is in me that any and everything is negotiable, I conceded they may not be able to honor the original deal, but I wanted to know what was the bottom dollar they would take for such a marvelous bike. Now remember, you are hearing this from the same fellow who negotiated for a reduced price on the very computer on which this article is currently being typed. The salesman said there was no such thing as reducing the price. I said, "call your boss." When the boss came, he said he couldn't do it. However, I walked out with a new computer at a somewhat reduced price.
When I next heard from the folks at Easy Racers, I was told they would indeed honor the original agreement. I told them they would not regret it because I'd just turn around and buy enough extras to more than make up of the reduction. Besides that, the "Blue Beauty" would be shown in front of castles, outdoor cafés situated along European cobble stoned streets and along European rivers all across Germany and other European countries.
So, I told the folks at Easy Racers what I wanted on the bike and they, of course, wanted my credit card number. Once we worked out all the details, they started on the bike. I asked them to send me pictures at the different stages of development so I could share them with you, our readers. So, take a look at them.
From the time I placed the order until it arrived, I did not get a good night's sleep. I'd finally get to sleep; then, I'd wake up thinking about the bike and lay there till my alarm went off at 0500. After a few days of looking at the pictures and putting one on my computer as wallpaper, I started trying to track the shipment. They used an overseas carrier DAX Global. It seems the bike went from Freedom California to San Francisco and had to wait for a container to fill. For whatever reason it went into the Netherlands, then into Dresden, former East Germany, with a company called Schenker. It stayed there over the Easter break.
I contacted the Wuerzburg customs office here on post. I was told I didn't need to fill out any customs forms and it would come directly to my door. I knew this was not correct; so, I contacted the customs on post in Schweinfurt. I was told that I needed an AE FORM 550-175A and would have to get it from the Wuerzburg office or drive to Schweinfurt. It could not be faxed or emailed to me. Why???
I went back to the office here on post and filled out the form and had it sealed and signed. I then went to the German customs office in Dettelbach that serves our area. They told me that they had no way of knowing where it was or where it would be sent and mentioned that I should tell Dresden to send it with a T-1 customs form so it could be delivered to my door. In the mean time, I'm corresponding with some folks who work for Shenker shipping. Then I received word from their warehouse in Schweinfurt when it would arrive and that I would have to pick it up in Schweinfurt. I tried to explain that I had paid for it to be shipped to my door. I was told that they didn't have something they needed to deal with the Customs office in Wuerzburg, and I'd have to go to Schweinfurt. I wanted to know, since my address is in Wuerzburg why did it get sent to Schweinfurt. I explained that I had already filled out the custom form and paid for the product to be delivered to my door. I was told to fax him a copy of the form.
I tried to take time on Saturday to go to Graf. to look at a house for our upcoming move. I couldn't get anyone to handle my sports duties; so, I took off on Friday. While in Graf. the warehouse called me and informed me that I would have to make the trip to Schweinfurt to get my bike. I asked the fellow to email me instructions on how to get there. On Saturday while ordering sports buses, I read my email from the warehouse and was livid when I read that I was going to have to pay an additional 303.30 Euro for the shipment from Dresden to Schweinfurt. "Here, I had paid for door to door delivery and now these idiots are trying to MAKE me pick up my bike and pay them again!", I steamed. I told them my address was nowhere close to Schweinfurt and why should I be expected to drive there and pick it up?
Going through my messages from Easy Racers, I found the shipping document that stated I had paid in advance for door to door delivery. The shipping company finally conceded that I did not owe any more fees, but insisted that I had to go to Schweinfurt to clear customs. Owing to the fact that we have a customs office right here it has never, even reflecting upon the situation, made any since why I should be forced to drive an hour to clear customs. However, since I was going to drive there anyway, I decided to pickup the bike while there.
Customs was easy enough to find but the shipping company was another story. When I finally arrived, I was in no mood for bureaucrats and red tape. I had been given the name of the man with whom I was to speak. Arriving at the proper floor, I was met with five or six sliding glass windows designed to protect the non working group of 12 or so incompetents that lounged on the other side. I asked where the man I was to speak was. Finding his window, he turned his back to me. I steamed. When he finally turned around, I presented him with my custom papers and declared who I was and why I was there. He had no clue as to what I was talking about. He referred me to a younger fellow two rows behind him. I came to his window, he ignored me.
I went to the door and entered their sacred bureaucratic sanctum sanctorum and asked the original man just to whom I was to speak. He indicated the young fellow who had ignored me. I approached him and, with a smirk on his face, he motioned for me to go out and to the window. Loud enough for them all to hear, I told him he would do well to remember I was the customer and he was there to service me. I held up my cell to the first fellow and told him I was one phone call away from his boss.
I went to the window and handed the young fellow my customs form. He sat and stared at it. I called the boss. He said go back to the other window. Using some very special language I acquired in the army, I made it very clear I had no intentions of going any danged place and I wanted my sdfd;kjsd bike NOW! The first gentleman started to get up and put on his coat. I hollered at him and told him, "Don't put on your coat! You are not going anywhere. You have a phone call coming. I looked at the young fellow who was pretending he knew what he was doing. I said, "Give me my paper back, you don't have clue what you are doing!" Finally, I was introduced to the warehouse Forman who had my bike delivered to the dock and loaded onto my truck.
After school that evening my friend and I, mostly he, assembled the bike as indicated in the pictures below.
The only thing we had a problem with was the rear finder. With the added disk brake, the rear rack and finder mounting is very close. I've asked the folks at Easy Racers to send us a close up picture of how it is supposed to be mounted.
April 4, 2008 Break-Down on Blue Beauty's Maiden Voyage:
By: Archie L. Tucker
'Bent Miles Publisher
On Friday, I had a doctor's appointment. However, I did have a few hours outside the appointment and guess what I did. Oh, yes; I took Blue Beauty our for her very first ride. At 0900, the morning was overcast; and at 50 degrees F., the wind was cold. I zipped down the hill and across the main street onto a secondary street that led to a biking trail. Following this path along fenced in garden spots on my right, I soon turned left and went through the underpass. At the junction of this trail and the Main River bike trail, I baptized Blue Beauty's brand new tires and rims. Water was standing on the trail from the night before.
Hitting dry pavement, I started swapping gears, I could see walkers coming towards me. A biker passed them and cut between us. I continued to gear up. Passing the soccer field on the right, I swung right and back left just past the yacht club. I was already thinking about beer gardens. Would they be open this early in the spring? Arriving at the next little village down river, I planned on getting a cup of coffee in their little bakery. I resolved that I would not even stop at the Turk who had treated Nolan and me so badly back when the Turks refused to allow our planes to fly over their airspace. He treated us so badly, I've never been back to his inbiss.
I parked my bike in front of the bakery. Going inside, I ordered a cup of coffee. She asked if I wanted anything to eat and I declined. I took up a seat where I could watch my bike. After a lady parked near, I decided it was too far out into the street and moved it back to the window near where I was seated. Soon I was hit with a coughing attack. I took off my coat and that helped a great deal. I sat back to enjoy the view--of my bike parked on a cobblestone street--and a good cup of German coffee.
Finishing my coffee, I hit the saddle. When we were assembling the bike, my friend, Ralph Henson-Lukas was unable to get the new computer to work properly. So, I'm guessing that I was doing about 10 miles per hour along the Main River. As I pedaled, I warmed and had to loosen my coat zipper. After stopping several times to take pictures I came to Zellingan. None of the three or four beer gardens were open. So, I pedaled on. While I was sure enjoying the ride, taking pictures on a two wheel platform is not nearly as easy as taking them from a three wheel platform. With each turn of the pedals, I marveled at the smooth cadence I was able to keep. The Shamano rapid fire shifters sure did live up to their names. I was passing others instead of them passing me.
Nearing Heaven Town, Himmelstadt, I started gearing down. Pulling up to the town spring/well I pulled down the kickstand and pulled the bike up onto it. After taking pictures from every conceivable angle, it was on to the large willow tree just past the town sign of Himmelstadt. It used to be that one had to ride through a very small section of the town when biking. However, last year they added more biking path and brought it along the river which bypassed all motorized traffic.
Pulling up to the beer garden it was clear that it was not yet open. I looked at my watch. It was now almost 1100 hours and I had a doctor's appointment at 1300. I took a few pictures and turned the bike around to start my return trip home. Something was wrong. I looked down and saw that the rubber hose that acts as the chain tensioner, had rode the chain up to my small front cog and derailed the chain.
The screw that had held it to the bike frame had vibrated loose. Where was I to find a screw out here on the bike trail ten miles from home? Then came out the Arkansas country boy. Lord, help me find some wire, I prayed. Knowing this part of the trial, I knew where there was an electrical fence; and where there was farm equipment and fencing, there was likely spare or discarded wire laying around. Just prior to leaving the house, I had checked the day box on my trike for tools. Those tools had all been American and this bike had all metric. I was barely able to get the lose mirror off with the Allan wrench that was just a bit too big. So, I had left all tools in the garage. As a last minute thought, I had thrown in the pliers combination wrenches Dolores had once bought for me. Those pliers now were life savers. I used them to cut the wire I found.
Once the chain was re-railed and the tensioner was secured to the frame it was about 1100. I saw the folks from the beer garden bringing in supplies. I started to ask if they were going to open, but decided I would barely have time to make my 1300 doctor's appointment if I hurried. Once home, I took a bath and snatched an apple for the fruit bowl. I prayed to get to my appointment on time. I met Dolores and Nolan returning just as I came out of the house. On the way I prayed for a parking spot near where I always park. No sooner than I rounded the corner, I found loads of parking spots.
I hurried to the hospital. On the ward where I was to go, the office was un-manned. It was two minutes past 1300. I waited in the waiting room till I saw a nurse go into the office. I asked about my appointment. She looked puzzled. She said that I couldn't have an appointment today because my doctor was on vacation all that week. She then checked the appointment book. My schedule was for June 4; not April 4.
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