Pino Miracles

We’re looking for a bike we can both ride, called a Pino, which we saw at the alpaca place in Dec 2016 when we started planning our second half (more on that another day). They’re REALLY hard to find and it’s been a frustrating battle. Not helped by language barriers. It’s difficult to explain how frustrating this has been and how many dead ends we’ve come to.

I eventually joined a Pino Facebook group but many on there are Americans & Brits. So I asked on the two nights ago if anyone knows where we can hire one in the south of France. I didn’t like my chances. There’re only 140 people in the worldwide group, so it wasn’t looking good. They answered by morning, were wonderful and friendly but we’d already tried the offered sites. In hindsight, I think we’re looking to late in the “season”, somewhere we’ve never quite gotten our heads around coming from the Southern Hemisphere where such seasons don’t really exist.

I felt frustrated, I can barely walk at all right now and I feel so strongly this could be my only opportunity at getting my muscles strong again. But, as I said before, we’ve hit dead end after dead end.

The further we got from western France, the harder it’s been getting and we feel pushed to give up finding the bike on this trip. We could just order one online, but they’re awfully expensive and if I find I can’t use it then it’s a huge waste. So we really need to hire one for a few days and not for an arm and a leg either.

On a totally different topic, we struggled to find a place to stay yesterday. The weather is terrible & the campsite we planned on was so creepy we barely slowed to a stop before driving onwards in the hope of finding something else. I was sore and tired.

With no Pino’s available there’s no point in going to the places we’d hoped to ride it and we were beginning to feel like we’re starting to meander around France somewhat aimlessly. Frustration is well and truly setting in.

We eventually found a mostly deserted but gorgeous campground. We settled down by the river and I realised I need to stay a few days to regroup. I’m feeling fragile. I asked if we could stay here in this random little town for a while till we find our bearings again. He felt the same and agreed quickly. We’re both fragile right now, in different ways.

But I also wanted to give finding the Pino one more shot. He responded in exasperation: Well, I’ve tried everything so unless God pulls out a miracle we aren’t going to try the Pino this trip, so we’ll have to make some new plans.

I checked the Facebook Pino group again, and this time there was a comment on my post from a man named Claude. If you’re anywhere near me I’ll rent you mine for a few days... I assumed he’d also be forever away, but checked anyway. I looked up his town up on the map… and he’s less than 5km away!

There’s the miracle!!! It’s hard to explain how amazing this is, what went into us being right here, right now, how many, many little things have come together for this…

Claude and I had a great conversation, but when we arrived at his house this morning, we realised immediately he barely speaks a word of English. How crazy is it that we can speak on Facebook in our own languages and not even know that. I assumed his English was pretty good and boy was I wrong. The two men compared notes, bike-riding international jargon, and a mix of each of their handful of the other’s language and it was fun to watch faces of confusion so often turn to faces of recognition and laughter.

So today we went on our very first ride. Forty-five minutes along the coast to a small town where we had lunch, then rode forty-five minutes back again. The fastest we rode was thirty-seven km per hour whizzing downhill!! I won’t lie, it’s a little scary sitting on the front of a bike with nothing else in front of you and not much to hold on, no seat belt, and flying at thirty-seven km per hour down the road with the cars!

We rode all along that red line and back again!

I can’t do stairs, but it turns out I can ride a bike! I knew I could and I was so determined to find one. The vital pieces of information about the Pino are these:

Firstly, riding the Pino, I don’t put any weight at all on my legs. I can pedal (when and if I want to) but because my feet are straight out in front of me (and slightly raised), I can do all the movements of pedalling, without putting any weight on Bertha, Frank, or my bad knee. So I’m exercising again! (as well as very much contributing to the riding of the bike). You can see where the Captain (in yellow) sits, in a totally normal bike riding position. The stoker (me), in blue sits totally recumbent on the front of the bike. I even lean back, much like I do in my bean bag!!

The second thing is, because my body lies rather flat on the front of the bike, my blood and bodily fluids don’t build up in my legs. Much of my bed-time is about keeping my legs up high. This does that.

Thirdly, because I don’t sit upright, I’m not sitting on Bertha.

And last but by no means least, if I have nothing to give, I run out of puff, my legs won’t cooperate at any point in time, ….I can leave my feet in the pedales and do nothing but go along for the ride instead of staying stuck at home.

But I’m still just as hopeless at taking selfies!! (Though you can see how close our heads are together which means unlike “normal” tandems, we can communicate and chat and so on without any bother). (And I’ll need a decent helmet!)

I’ll try and get better photos tomorrow (I need someone else to take the pics of me).

PS: The book’s never going to happen if I don’t finish it! Or if I don’t have a support team So I’ll keep these links at the bottom of my posts for the next month 🙂 They’re the easy, no-spam emails I’ll send out no more than weekly (and believe me, I miss sending half of those) till the book launches and you can get your free copy!

Main email group:
Team Tortoise:
Team Hare:

Where you can find and follow Jennifer:

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@JPeaSmith

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