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Peter Snow Cao
Tales of Cycling in China
Copyright © Peter Snow Cao, 2002.
Today, I Met a Chinese Bicycle Master
The following is one of several a short articles about my experiences bicycling in China. Enjoy.
For those of you who have been unfortunate enough to have seen your wheel become a potato chip, I thought you might enjoy this story.
I was checking out a route north of Chengdu, China for a club ride today, and on the way back I decided to try to find a less traveled way. I turned off the main rode and was heading through a village. A city bus was just passing me when he pulled toward the curb and my handlebars caught the flange to rear door. Then life became slow-mo as I watched the my wheel jammed into the curb, the front of the bike thrown down and the bike's rear wheel start to slid under bus, soon to be crushed. Somehow I popped off the bike and on to the sidewalk, while the bus passengers were screaming for the driver to stop. Fortunately he did so before the rear wheel became a pancake. I grabbed the bike and surveying the damage took it to show the driver. He motioned for me to get on the bus with the bike. We went a few blocks and stopped at a hole in the wall shack.
The driver and I took the wounded bike to a stooped old man about four feet tall. I surveyed the shop and was distressed to note that there were no new wheels, just a couple of rusted tricycle work truck wheels that could no way work on my bike. My heart sank as I thought I would have to lug my bike to another shop or another town to get a new wheel.
The old guy took a look at it and told his assistant to get the wheel and tire off. I couldn't figure out what he was going to do with it. After all, once a potato chip, never a wheel again, or so I thought. He brought out a long steel bar with a four-inch bend at the end, and using
it with a wrench placed between the rims, he started taking the bends out of the wheel. I watched in amazement as the Master worked my wheel back into normalcy. As I watched, I thought, "Great, now I will have a shimmying wreck, there is no way he can make it true again."
But I was wrong. In less than twenty minutes, that old guy un-potato-chipped my wheel and made it as true as it was when it was new. The bus driver paid the bill of $1.20 and I left having felt I had been in the presence of a true master.
Bicycling in China Aug 1999
Bike Trip from Chengdu to Xi'an, China October 1999
Cycling in Chengdu, China May 2000
Tonight, I Met Another Chinese Bicycle Master July 20, 2002
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