After our triumphal tandem repair, we spent a lovely morning in Caen, checking out William the Conquerer’s castle and all the pedestrian streets and public spaces downtown.
At 3 we were ready to fetch our bikes from the hotel garage and continue to Juno Beach and the other landing beaches.
But less than a kilometre into the 10 km route, the tandem wheel started wobbling. We pulled over in the grass beside the canal. It quickly became clear that the fix wasn’t going to take us anywhere as ball bearings were slipping everywhere.
The day before I had sent some Warm Showers emails to perspective hosts in Caen in case we had to wait for parts for several days. Warm Showers is a network of bike travellers who offer fellow bike travellers a place to pitch a tent or a bed. Before we left we had hosted a cyclist from France on the tail end of a two year journey around the world. It was fun chatting with him and sharing a meal.
Just that morning I had responded to the two hosts saying that all was well and we were back en route. So I sent another note and called Hélène.
In less than an hour, Hélène called back, confirmed that we were welcome to stay and sent her husband Fred and older son Oscar to pick us up. While Fred and Derek attached the tandem to Fred’s back bike rack, Oscar escorted Anna Sierra and I to their home on his slick fixie.
Soon we were all settled, hearing about Oscar’s 400km bike trip with his friend (and no parents!) on the last school holiday, meeting Jules, Hélène and Fred’s younger son.
Turns out that Fred is a dedicated volunteer at La Maison du Vélo and he and Derek had lots of ideas for possible hub repairs.
In the end we spent two wonderful days with our new friends. Some of the highlights were the kids visiting the school across the street and meeting a grade 4 class – the school director was Oscar’s basketball coach, so he and Fred made all the arrangements. On the second evening we shared a big burrito dinner and played rowdy card games until after everyone’s bedtime, laughing like old friends.
We were overwhelmed with kindness and look forward to reciprocating when we have the opportunity. Once again a broken bike might have slowed down the trip, but it also led to one of our favourite experiences yet.
P.S. It’s now about a week later and the bike is still working, so I think it is safe to say it really is fixed.