Day 21 – Monday 15th of July – Astrakhan (0km)
First of all, the bad news – Today my parents found out that it is not possible to send parcels into Russia, only documents. Fed Ex does send parcels, but with severe weight and value restrictions, and at astronomical prices. So it seemed that it was not possible to get a replacement rim sent from Spain. Plan B it was then.
On Saturday, me and Lex had been looking for bikers in the center, as they are always good help, and had found a contact. A guy named Arkan, a real badass by the looks of it, the kind of big Russian guy that never smiled. We got his number and this morning I got Valentin, my host, to call him. He said he would come and have a look, and at lunchtime he turned up in his big black car. He drove us over to the car park where the bike was, barked at the guard to let him drive in and examined the wheel. He said that it could be fixed, and that he would come back the following days with the tools to remove it from the bike. I said I had the tools and could get it out in five minutes, so I did it. Later Valentin told me that they were a bit impressed, as they had thought I was some kind of amateur who had no idea what to do. He put the wheel into the boot and we went off to a really dodgy part of town to find a tire workshop to remove the tire from the rim. After a couple of stops we got it done and then we went to an even rougher part of town in search of a shop were they could repair it, as the one he knew was apparently not able to do it until Wednesday. We eventually found one, but he was not happy about the price they asked nor about the fact that they did not have the equipment to have the wheel balanced once the job was done. I said that I did not mind waiting a bit longer as long as it was done properly, so he took the wheel with him and said that in a couple of days he would have it fixed. So there is the good news. I hope.