I spent a couple of days at the Golden Park Hotel and Resort. On the first day, I got a lift into town and bought a new data plan for my modem since my old one had almost run out. The staff at the Airtel office wanted me to come back when I had about 50 mb left on my plan, not the 300 mb that was my current balance but getting to and from town was not that easy so I found a download of around 250 mb to use up the data. (I went to eclipse.org for a download of one of their development environments; I know they have reasonably quick servers.) For the second day, I remained pretty much locked to my computer, completing my next course assignment, working on some photos and uploading them to this site.
I had planned a short day riding for today: an excursion to the ruins in Gaur, then on to Farakka Barrage, a dam on the Ganges. About 55 km. With hopefully a place to stay at the end of it. But barely a mile from my hotel, the rear rack supporting my panniers failed. The bar that connects to the rear axle part of the frame just snapped above the attachment bolt. So I started to push to Malda (the hotel I’d just left is about 5 km north of the centre of Malda).
After a couple of kilometres, I came to a bicycle tube repair centre (actually, just a wooden shack, like all the rest, at the side of the road). I showed the problem to the young man in charge. I stripped the bike of valuables (panniers, handlebar bag, computer) and he rode off, apparently confident he could get it welded. (Or maybe just to have a ride on a ‘gear-cycle.’) I was less optimistic about the chances of this happening and, if it did happen, the likelihood of the fix being permanent.
He arrived back half-an-hour later with my bike and the not altogether surprising news that the aluminium could not be welded. With communication pretty much a matter of sign language, I pointed at the rack on a nearby Indian bike. They all have them and these carriers are sturdy, and often support a full-size passenger.
I wasn’t actually trying to obtain someone’s rack but indicate an interest in that type of rack and I’m not sure how much of my intention was understood; there was something about the idea or the communication that wasn’t going to work. A neighbouring stall owner pointed towards Malda, indicated a left turn before a bridge and said something that sounded like ‘bicycle shop.’ ‘Closed Sunday,’ he added.
After a failed attempt to bind the two ends of the broken bar together with inner tube rubber, I showed how the broken rod could rest on the bolt attaching the end of the broken bar to the frame and indicated wrapping the rods together with a one cm overlap. The neighbour produced some wire and my cycle-mechanic-cum-puncture-patcher bound them together. All this had taken surprisingly little time, about an hour. There were hand-shakes and smiles all round, and I gingerly continued into town. I made it without further mishap, checked into the Hotel Kalinga where I had dined a couple of days ago and prepared to wait for Monday. Which is what I am doing now…
A thoroughly Indian day! With lots of help from lots of people.