160523 – It wouldn’t be the same

I packed early for this trip; by Thursday most everything scattered about the living room floor found its way into a bag or box. I re-used the bike box from my last return from Ireland, although I had forgotten just how small the box was. I spent  several hours disassebling the bicycle and packing it into the box. Because of my American Airlines flight the box had to weight less than 50 pounds or there would be an additional surcharge (above and beyond their $150 bicycle fee!). I repacked everything with the items with the largest volume and lowest weight packed in with the bicycle, leaving me with 25 pounds of carry-on luggage. Still, when all was said and done, I had the pedals off and everything packed three day before the flight, with no last-minute drama.

Ok, so I was still missing rain pants. I previously decided I could live without them, but at the very last minute I decided to at least try to replace them, so Marnie and I stopped by REI on the way to the airport (also using my 20% discount for the Memorial Sale).

Even then, still on schedule we arrived at the airport over three hours before the flight. The usual confusion ensued when checking in the bicycle, but after summoning two supervisors everything was straightened out, and they parted me from my $150. After my careful weighing and repacking of everything, they didn’t bother to weigh the bicycle.

As I handed the bicycle over to Oversized Luggage Wayne arrived and packed his pocket knife in with the bicycle. I kissed Marnie goodbye, and Wayne and I proceeded through Security. I wondered what would get me pulled from the line this time? The bicycle lock (carried because its weight put the bicycle box over the weight limit? The pedals (because they look strange on a security scanner)? This trip’s winner? Pasta in a plastic jar.

Settled into the airport waiting area, I visited my favorite used book store, grabbed lunch, and settled in to wait. As we waited for Charlotte, I noticed Mike Aiken, a co-worker from my days at ITIC sitting in a seat across from us. The best time to meet an ex-coworker? When they’re flying to Kansas City for business and you’re flying to Lisbon for the 5+ week bicycle tour.

Charlotte arrived and we uneventfully flew to Philadelphia. With a four-hour layover (carefully planned to provide enough time for flight delays but hopefully not enough time for my bicycle box to get lost), we searched the airport for electrical outlets, ate dinner, and waited for our 8:45 pm flight. And waited. And waited. Mechanical problems meant a change of plane, and then we learned our airplane needed an additional check (of 100 minutes) as the certification for flyng over water hadn’t been completed. Even so, we left with one of the lavatories closed for repairs.

Upon landing without further incident, we played a brief game of “Where’s the box?” but eventually the bicycle arrived, apparently none the worse for wear. While waiting, we’d decided that all three of us would take a taxi (bicycle still enboxed) to the bicycle rental place where Wayne and Charlotte were to pick up their rental bikes.

Wayne and Charlotte had both upgraded the cell plans for Europe travel, but my $15 plan doesn’t provide any international support. I purchased a SIM card at an arport kiosk. Wayne and Charlotte found an ATM in the interim, and we all withdrew some starting cash.

While standing in a long taxi line, a driver approached us and offered a van into town, which could carry a bicycle. Dire warnings surround such an offer in Eastern Europe, but I hadn’t heard anything for Lisbon. We gave him the address and agreed upon a fixed rate. After a wild ride through the streets of Lisbon and we arrived at Iberia Bikes.

While recent reviews for Iberia Bikes showed declining performance, their service was friendly, and even helped finish assembling my bicycle. They couldn’t store my box, but did let me know that two of the large malls in Lisbon had a SportsCenter store that could provide a box. Everyone packed and ready to go, we cycled off onto the streets of Lisbon. Less that two kilometers later, we arrived at the ferry across the Tare River to our next destination of Seixal. After our ferry crossing, we headed south on large roads, eventually routing ourselves onto smaller and smaller roads, where Wayne’s pedal fell off.

Careful examination shows that the pedal froze. After working lubrication into the pedal, everything seemed ok. Wayne touched base with the rental place, with a response along the line of, “If everything’s working now, why did you call”. Everything fixed, we continued onwards. Shortly thereafter, Wayne’s pedal again lept free.

At this point we were still 20+ km from our intended destination for the day, in the middle of nowhere, at 6:00 pm. The map indicated major climbs remained ahead. While Wayne reengaged the bicycle shop, a local walked up offered his help. He took the pedal, and reeturned with tools and an oil can. After working with it for a while he pronounced it fixed and reattached it to the bicycle. As we pedaled out of sight, Wayne’s pedal locked up.

While those repairs were underway, Wayne’s conversation with the rental store proceeded with the same level of success. They recommended Wayne proceed to the shop in Setubal and purchase new pedals. The town we were indeed headed for, but 20 km away. Time to make some changes to the plan.

We’d passed a sign for a campground 4 km back. Making sure we all knew where we were going, Charlotte and I headed back to the campground, with Wayne following on foot. As Charlotte and I got everything unpacked, Wayne arrived none the worse for wear (although having been delayed by sheep). Not quite where we expected to be, we ate a fabulous fresh fish dinner at the restaurant associated with the campground, and settled ito our tents for the night.

The forecast calls for rain tomorrow. Were we in Setubal as intended, we’d be settled into a town to visit. Instead  we’re camped at a small out-of-the-way campground. Tomorrow Wayne will take a taxi to pick up replacement pedals, and we’ll continue on our way, weather dependent. That’s the plan – for now.

More than a little glad I stopped for the rain pants.


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