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Fresh from the bike shop, where we have had to buy a new hub for me and a new bottom bracket for Tom, we head to an Outdoors shop. I lean my bike against a pole outside and empty out the frame bag, thinking to myself, If someone nicked my iPod and passport while I was in the shop, that would really suck….

I find a nice water bottle in the shop and ask the girl if I can try it in my bottle cage for size. I return to the door – and stop, stunned to see the Big Dummy standing in solitary splendour.

I spend several moments just staring. Maybe if I look harder the scene will change. Nope. Just a big empty space. I feel sick.

“Tom. We have a problem. I’m so sorry”.

In many ways, I feel worse about this for him than for myself. It was the first bike he built up himself from the frame up, using a combination of components from our mountain bikes at home, and carefully selected new ones. He has maintained, nursed and cared for her since Canada, noticing problems before I do, replacing parts as needed. He knows every last nut and bolt on that bike. She was my much loved companion and faithful steed for over 24,000km – but she was Tom’s baby.

What does a cycle tourist do, without a bike? The obvious answer: buy a new one, is difficult to accept while still deeply mourning. Feels a bit like buying a new kitten the day after your cat dies. Or maybe getting married again the day after your husband dies.

I have thoughts of changing the trip entirely, maybe find kayaks instead, or go hiking. Look on it as a trigger for a different kind of adventure. But Tom isn’t ready to give up on cycling yet, and this is our trip. So we start researching what it would cost to get a decent bike shipped, and we check out the local bike shops for a steed that will get me through the next 2 months. Maybe if it isn’t something I would want to keep I can sell it at the end.

It’s a work in progress. We’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime, the love and support of friends and the entire cycling community begins to flood in. We find out that people we met or stayed with along the way still follow our adventures. We hear from strangers, people who have been where we are and truly understand.

Thank you all.

Bare bones

half a bike – a week before leaving for Canada