Home > Uncategorized > A Shortcut to…Lübeck?

A Shortcut to…Lübeck?

Written 13/6/10-Posting delayed, no internet yesterday.

I should have guessed something was wrong this morning. The chain on my bike had slipped between the gears and the pedal, and it took some time to fish it out. I put it back on and, feeling rather proud of myself, started out for Priwall. The gears weren’t working quite right at first, but I was only having problems with one setting, so I kept going. As I hoped, the gears worked themselves out by the time I got out of town. Everything else was fine. It was a cool morning; rain threatened but the clouds never opened, and the roads were beautiful and quiet. Three windturbines churned away on my left. The ocean was too far to see, but I could smell its salty tang from where I was.

I made it to Travemünde and found the ferry to Priwall. I bought a ticket, and then, along with several other cyclists and a few cars, I crossed the river to the peninsula. Then, everything got a little stranger. Things were different on the other side of the canal, from the architecture, to the old men who wore scowls. Maybe it was just because I was hyperaware of having crossed the former border, but it really felt different somehow.

So, I started to bike. Again, the gears were acting oddly, but I thought it was because I had accidentally shifted on the ferry. I biked slowly, watching the chain. Then, as before, things seemed to be functioning normally. I downshifted to accommodate a slope. KACHUNK KACHINK BOOM. Suddenly, I was spinning uselessly and off balance. The gears had stopped working entirely. I braked, hopped off, and, full of apprehension, leaned the bike over to inspect the situation. The metal piece holding the shifter to the gears had broken off and lay limp, completely ineffective. I knew this was beyond my ability to repair. I have a feeling that it must have been jostled too much on the plane or in travel. Angry at myself, I assessed the situation. It was 10:30. It was Sunday. The best bet for repairs was in Lübeck, across the canal, and then 20 minutes by train.

However, I was determined to explore the Priwall beach. I pushed my bike (thank goodness I could wheel it) down into the sand and walked around, taking pictures. There used to be a clear, armed border here, complete with the GDR standard red-gold-black striped post and watchtowers. Today, the beach was windy and desolate, riddled with broken seashells, a few people plodded along, largely ignoring this abandoned tower. I don’t know right now if this was used as a watchtower. There are similar structures that still serve some function today (lifeguard stands, I figure). But its boarded windows lent an eerie feeling to the Priwall beach.

Anyway, back to my misfortune. I departed to Travemünde via ferry, and then caught a 1:30 train to Lübeck. Of course, Sunday means the bike shops were closed. I expected this and planned to stay the night here. But little did I know that EVERYTHING is closed on Sunday, including hotels. I had a hell of a time finding a room, but eventually got a nice place at a youth hostel in old town.

I also arrived at an important realization today, pushing my bike around Lübeck. One of my primary rules for travel, and life in general is: Don’t wait to do something you can do now. This is applied perhaps most practically to visiting the bathroom. It’s a bad idea to count on being able to use the bathroom later when you’re in an unknown location, so you should do it now. (I firmly believed in this when I was younger, too, which my parents could never understand on roadtrips.) But, I realized that this rule can be distilled to a larger rule about understanding when you can and cannot control situations. If you can do something you need to do in the present, you are in control of that situation and should take advantage of it. But, when you are prevented from doing something, you are less in control of that situation and should recognize this, accept it, and move on. Despite my frustration for breaking down a mere 15k into the trip, I know that I cannot control that my bike is not working right now. I CAN control my attitude, be proud of myself for figuring things out so far, and find something good for dinner. I don’t anticipate that this will be a difficult repair, and I hope to be on the road to Zarrentin tomorrow, as scheduled.

Spirits are high in Lübeck; I wanted to come here anyway.

Update: I could not find a bike shop that has the correct part, but one is being ordered and should be here tomorrow. I expect to be on the road tomorrow afternoon and hopefully on back on track! In the meantime, I’m meeting some people around here, and trying to figure out how Lübeck fared during the Cold War.

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