Thursday was not a fun day. As we were unlocking the bikes to leave Amberg, I noticed my father's rear tire was almost flat. This is the one we had the problems with earlier. We had another spare tube, but this surely means there is something wrong with tire. We asked the hotel desk manager where the nearest bike shop was and he said "I'll drive you to the one we use" (The hotel has bikes for guests to use).
So we folded the bike, put it in the car and off we went. The shop was about 4km, which is farther than we thought. The owner there had a tube that would fit and replaced the tube and said he looked at the tire very closely and found nothing. I asked were the hole was and he inflated the tube and it was fine. ???? Maybe gremlins let air out of the tire as we slept.
Back at the hotel, we loaded up and rode out. On the way to the city, Sulzbach-Rosenberg, we passed by the bike shop but all was well.
Just outside of Sulzbach-Rosenberg the hills started. Bamberg (and Rome) where build on seven hills, but Sulzbach-Rosenberg must have at least five. In the middle of the city was Brauerei Sperber. So we stopped for a bowl of delicious mushroom soup and beer. They had a Pils and Helles and draft. Both were good, but nothing exceptional.
Outside of S-R was another long (for us hill). There was also a stiff headwind so we didn't get much speed on the downhill side. My father's tire was a bit lower than he liked -- the guy at the bike shop probably didn't realize they go up to 100psi (or 7 bar). At the highest point we where about 130 meter over are starting point, which doesn't sound like much but we did 100 m of that about 5 times.
At one point we were resting at an intersection and another (younger) cyclist stopped and asked if everything was OK. We said we were just catching our breath before the next hill. He asked where we were going and we said Nürnberg, but we'd probably stop short of it. He said that the next hill was the last and then it was all downhill to Nürnberg. Welcome news!
Shortly after that, in the village of Hartmannhof, we rounding a corner and there was a bike shop. The owner was putting out some bike for display and I ask if he had air. He pointed to a handpump chained to the side of the building and said "help yourself." My Dad brought his bike over and we pumped up his rear tire. I thought mine might be a tad low as well, so I though I'd do the same. The valve wasn't in the right place, so I lifted the rear of the bike and tried to rotate the tire. Tried is the operative word -- the tire was hard to move! The rear brake was seriously dragging -- not enough to stop movement, but enough to slow you down. No wonder those hills seemed so long and the downhills so slow!
Nothing looked obviously wrong, but since we were at a bike shop I took it inside to the owner, rather than embarrass myself with my lack of mechanical skills (hey, I'm a software guy, this is hardware). The bike shop owner put it up on the rack he he could find nothing wrong. He went out an looked at my Dad's and looked an mine and finally pointed out a bent piece. The little little flange that holds the spring tension screw on the right side brake was bent 90°!
He said that couldn't (or shouldn't be fixed) but he had a good Shimano brake that was compatible, only 10 Euros. He said it would take 10 minutes to install but he futzed with it for about 25 and then we were back on the road. He didn't even charge me any labor.
Two other quick things about this shop: that hand pump is outside all the time, even when he is closed. He says he puts out a new one every couple years. None has ever been stolen. Also, on the side of the shop was a vending machine that sells bicycle tubes. At first I thought it was cigarette machine but then realized it was tubes in a number of different sizes and valves. I like this bike shop -- Radsport Müller & Wagner. I don't know if we where dealing with Herr Müller or Herr Wagner, but if you are ever in Hartmannhof and need bike work, I highly recommend them.
Back on the trail it felt like I had a new bike. I am not sure how long I'd had this problem -- not more than a few days and probably didn't notice it since we mostly riding on the flats. Anyway, even though it was downhill, it was clear after two, one hour delays, we weren't going make our original destination of Schwaig. I called a few hotels in Lauf and they were all full. One of the bike maps had an add for the Gasthof zur Grünen Eiche ("The Green Oak") and they had rooms so I booked one.
It turns out the village is a little bit off the bike trail, which isn't a problem, but it is somewhat up the side of the hills along the river valley. So I was really ready for a beer when we pulled up to the Gasthof. I was dismayed to see a big "Veldensteiner" sign. This means beers from Brauerei Kaiser in Neuhaus an der Pegntiz, whose beers I've always found to be very bland. I went in and said I was the person who and called but we wanted a beer first. She said sit down outside and she'd come see us. We ordered a Helles and a Landbier. I was surprised that the Landbier was quite nice. The Helles was OK, on range with the ones we'd had the past few days. The menu also listed a Zwickel and Rauchbier from them and I had both with dinner. I think the Zwickel was just the Helles but unfiltered. The Rauchbier had a small but decent amount of smoke and was fairly decent.
Tomorrow we make the short ride in to Nürnberg and then we'll catch a train to Bamberg. I'm pressing to get off the train early (like Hirschaid) and ride in to Bamberg, but we'll see how my Dad feels.
Distance traveled: 51 km