It all went a bit Pete Tong today, if I’m honest. It started out so well, too.
When we got into Strasbourg last night, we knew that Claire’s bike was going to need a little attention. Her exhaust heat shield and mudguard were hanging on by little more than sheer will alone and we wanted to make some repairs before we pressed on to Lucerne.
Our plan was to hit up a scooter shop on the way out of town and although the first one we tried was shut on Mondays, on our second attempt, we struck 24 karat monkey bike gold. Strasbike is a little bicycle and scooter shop that sells and services Skyteam Dax motorcycles. Not just monkey bikes, but the actual brand and model that we both have! It was too good to be true – there’s not a single shop in London that carries the same bike.
We explained what we needed and the manager, Sabri and his awesome colleague sorted Claire’s bike out better than we could have done in our workshop back home. Better than that, they did it while we waited, topped up our air and oil, made us coffee and *gave* me a handful of bulbs for my shonky back light!
We were back out on the road for about half ten and it was looking likely that we’d have no problem making Zurich or even Lucerne by the evening. A plan had come together, the weather had sorted itself out and life was good. Yeah, not so fast – these are monkey bikes we’re talking about and the slightest hint of complacency or hubris and you’ll be sorry…
So it was that about six or seven miles out of Strasbourg on some anonym our dual carriageway, my bike started to sputter. I assumed I’d got through more petrol than I thought and we stopped to go onto reserve. Nothing. The bike had fuel, air and a spark (our go-to method of checking this is a whiff of Easy Start from Claire’s magic can of joy).
We tried everything we could to get the bugger going again, right down to an impromptu roadside carb stripdown to make sure that the jets weren’t jammed and the floats were floating. Nothing seemed out of place, not a sausage. So, reluctantly, I got on to my breakdown cover and we waited for the big yellow lorry of shame to arrive.
During this time, a refuse lorry stopped and two guys jumped out to come and see what the problem was. The one who spoke better English was a bloke called Lagraine – who it transpired is a Proper Biker and a seriously lovely bloke. He said that he was two hours away from clocking off, but if we weren’t up and running by that stage, we should WhatsApp him and he would come and recover me to his garage and help me get the bike going again. He meant it, too – just as the reovery driver was loading my bike on board, he pulled up on his own bike to check we were okay.
We later caught up with him on Instagram (he’s @lagraine97) and he even sent us dashcam video of him pulling up on the other side of the road. What an awesome guy!
Sabri and his mate back at Strasbike were a bit surprised to see us again, but they got my bike straight onto the ramp and sorted it out for me. Turns out, it wasn’t one thing that was wrong, just some bad luck. It needed a whole lot of stuff doing to get it running, including an air filter clean, fresh fuel, a new spark plug and a whole lot of lurve.
By the time it was done, we were never going to get any appreciable distance done, so we made the best of it, booked back into the apartment hotel we’d just left and got dinner in an amazing vegan restaurant that Claire had found online. Seitan tartare and roast potatoes so good that you couldn’t be sure it wasn’t actual beef.
We learned a bunch about our bikes today and we’re incredibly grateful for the kindness of several really lovely people. Hopefully, we’re still more or less on track for Trieste by the weekend, but we’re on monkey bikes so who the hell knows?