If you've ever visited a place where there is a strong bicycle culture (Japan, Scandinavia, Munich), people seem to leave there unwanted bikes to rust in the bike racks around train stations and parks. I was walking with Emrah, the Turkish guy I've stayed with here with, and I made a throw away comment about how you could probably build a bike out of all the bits of left over bikes. we continued on our walk and I thought nothing more of it.
The friendly man at the disabled mobility store (who owned the BMW Z8 sitting out the front), gave me directions to a place that would be closed, but he assured me that someone there who could help me out. His directions were simple: "up the street, over the square, around the corner and over the road from Circus Krone. Look for the big yellow shed with a workshop next to it". I thanked him, and walked in the heat, got lost 3 times, bought an ice cream and eventually found my way to the place. I really must go back and take some pictures, but I'll try and describe it. Circus Krone looks like what would happen if the Adelaide Fringe Festival permanently set up shop somewhere. A huge gaudy building with a big old fashion light bulb sign saying "Circus Krone" and thousands of posters plastered over older posters battling it out for your attention. And over the road was the promised big yellow shed, looking as closed as a closed business could be. A large sign swung in the breeze and mockingly proclaiming the opening hours, which didn't include my arrival time.
I pulled out the frame with the most stuff still attached, and hunted for a few more spares. I found a suitable replacement for the rear wheel, which was bent and missing a cog from the gear cluster. I found new break handles, as the one on the frame were bent. The breaks themselves are the older V style and require planning to stop the bike. The running gear on the frame worked well, and is an older style Deore LX, which I'm told is pretty good, regardless of it's age. Using my Leatherman and an alan key and spanner I borrowed from Jason, I was able to dismantle the good bits from the bikes and combine them all on the one frame. I thanked Jason for his help and wheeled my creation to a bike shop about 1km away. I bought the new tube, walked to a petrol station and changed it over. Even though I was covered in grease from finger tip to elbow, for the first time in a while I was enjoying life. I got on to the bike and rode off. I can't really remember where I rode, but I just rode.
And yesterday, while riding around, I found lying in the middle of the bike lane a combination bike chain that was undone. I now have security.
I am going to give riding this bike around Europe a serious go. I owe it to me as much as I do to it. I need to fix the forks, breaks and get pannier bags (or a trailer), to carry my stuff in. I have a place here in Munich I can store my backpack, so things are looking up.