Bicycle Bits – or “Bites!”

There were 2 main reasons that necessitated travel by bike – bikes using pedal-power or bikes using motor-power. The first was when the roads were flooded and the swamps impassable and, secondly, when trying to visit otherwise inaccessible villages. I guess I could add a third reason – that is when going with a group of church leaders in which a bicycle would be used to be part of the group. After all, if I used my motor-“bike”, I would leave them far behind!
Both type of bike conveyances had their own pluses and minuses. But there was one characteristic/problem that plagued both – village dogs seemed always to be enemies of spinning wheels and, plunging out of a village, would attack the bike’s wheels trying to bite them. It didn’t matter, front or back, but they always attacked with fury. As I kept on riding, and when they found they could not “catch” a wheel, they often turned on me – on my ankles, flapping trousers or legs that were moving in the pedaling or on the footrests on the motor bike. I soon learned that when I went somewhere by bike I had to take a stick with me to fend off those angry brutes! That makes for interesting riding – as one USA pastor said, “One hand on the throttle, the other on the club!” Good thing a motorbike had a foot brake!
Another difficulty, especially when using pedal-power, was that African paths are often loaded with thorns and you know what thorns do to bicycle tires. This was always a problem (to say nothing of the hot sun, tall [I mean 5+ ft.!] grass loaded with grass seed, sand, slippery clay after a rain shower plus a lot more!) and an anticipated hour’s trip could end up taking all morning. Repairing punctures (using spit to find the tube puncture if there was no water around) and using up the repair solution and patches or the “gun-powder” vulcanizing patches. I learned that, in order to be able to make forward progress after a myriad of repairs, to find a water source, take out the tube valve stem, suck up water and expel it into the tube then pump in some air. Fill it about half full of water. I guess the water molecules, sticking together, reduced the size of the puncture and slowed down the loss of air so that you could get at least a couple more miles before you would have to do it all over again.
Then, again, (I only had to do this once!) when all else fails – remove the tube leaving only the tire. Then pack firmly the tire full of grass, reseat the tire and put the tube around your neck and continue on your way.
Or, if all else fails, walk. And push the bicycle and hope to get hope to get home before sundown!!
Some of my motorcycle travails will follow possibly in next week’s post. Keep looking.

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