After a bad day for Christine yesterday things got worse today (Friday).
The last section of the route into Belgrade was described as especially busy in the guidebook and people we met yesterday confirmed it wasn’t nice. Christine had spotted what looked like an alternative route on the map so we decided to give it a try. For the first 5 km or so it was looking like a brilliant choice.
Then it started to rain and the soil turned to glutinous mud almost instantly. This stuck to the tyres and proceeded to jam up the small gap between the wheel and the mudguard. Christine’s front wheel jammed sold and she was deposited on the ground falling heavily on her left shoulder/upper arm. When Stephen came back to see what had happened he found her holding her arm as though she had suffered the classic cyclist’s injury of a broken collarbone. However, she was pretty sure that nothing was broken – just badly bruised.
As she was in no state to ride we made our way back 2 km to a made up road off to the side with Stephen pushing one bike for a 100 metres or so and then going back for the other one while Christine made her way slowly and gingerly clutching her damaged arm. Once on the road she was able to push her bike and so we made our way slowly into the town at the start of the busy stretch of road which was about 25 km from the centre of Belgrade.
As we made our way towards the station to catch a train into the city a family stopped their car as they reversed out of their drive to ask if they could help. Eventually it was decided that Sanja and Aleksandar would take Christine to the station in their car while their son (we didn’t catch his name) would ride her bike and lead Stephen there.
At the station Aleksandar helped Stephen load the bikes into the train – up 4 really steep steps – and they roped in a friend who happened to be catching the same train into helping us at the other end.
It really was so kind of them to help us and it restores one’s faith in the goodness of people. What a contrast to the car that had driven around her bike when it lay in the middle of the track while she sat on the side and Stephen walked back towards her!
The train didn’t go into the main station so we were faced with the prospect of a further walk! But first Stephen had to carry the bikes down to street level. We again benefited from the goodness of human nature as one of our fellow passengers offered to lend a hand by taking Christine’s bike.
We had reason to curse Serbian traffic engineers as the road we were walking beside had to cross the motorway. This was achieved by an enormous roundabout at which there was no provision for pedestrians other than negotiating four sets of stairs. This was not fun!
On the other side of the roundabout there was a smart hotel for which we made a beeline. Thankfully the cost was not extortionate and, in view of the fact that we were both approaching the end of our tethers, we were more than happy to pay €70 for bed & breakfast plus (much to Stephen’s chagrin) €5 to park the bikes in the underground garage. The staff were extremely anxious to get the bikes moved from outside the main door to reception!
Once in the room and connected to WiFi, Christine consulted our physiotherapist daughter in law, Tamsin, who, as far as she could tell over facetime, agreed that it didn’t sound like anythtimg was broken. Christine is now religiously doing exercises every half hour and we will see how things are in the morning.