This touring lark has turned out to be harder work than we both envisaged. That doesn't mean we aren't enjoying it, but Donna did ask about a month ago for a good rest at some point in the near future - two or three weeks off the bike (and not climbing mountains instead). To put things into perspective I usually cycle around 5000 miles a year (with lots of rides over 100 miles and very hilly), Donna used to cycle 600 flattish miles a year but has clocked up 1000 hillier miles both in 2015 and 2016 on Titty the Tandem. Now we have arrived in Zadar we have ridden 2931 miles with 138,000 feet of ascent since we set off mid-August. The days off the bike haven't been sit around relaxing days either, so I think Donna is justified in needing a break to recharge. The problem though is the seasons, We have had to keep going to get through Albania before the snow arrives. So the plan was to rest up in Greece say around mid -December. We have considered how much it will cost us to have 3 weeks off and how much it would cost us to get a return flight home, stay in our own house and come back in January. Leaving Titty somewhere secure and coming home for a bit seemed the more sensible option. We have learnt a lot in the last 3 months and there is kit we would like to offload, change for other kit at home or upgrade, so a brief home visit looks very meaningful. On day 102 our plans for pushing on hard southwards went off the rails. We left Novalja under a dark and foreboding sky, the scenery most of the day was un-inspirational, all our food stops were standing by the side of the road, we never found one bench. The ride seemed to go on for ever and we were really looking forward to just getting it over, neither of us were enjoying this day. Finally on the last climb of the day the sun came out, we descended into Zadar and joined the rush hour traffic. We were stationary in a tailback awaiting the lights to turn green, they did and we rolled forward half a dozen car lengths then it all came to a halt again. Another light change and we crept further down the road and were soon stationary again. We were less than a mile away from our destination when there was an almighty bang as the driver behind hit us before stopping. We were horizontal on the deck shocked at what had just happened. Donna took one look at our mangled rear wheel and was in floods of tears and trembling all over, she was also angry, very angry. The Croatian driver seemed to think it was our fault that he had driven into the back of us! He wanted our bike out the way so he could proceed on his journey. I quickly photographed him, his reg plate and Titty under his front end and told him we were calling the police. Then he realised he couldn't just drive off. Some bystanders were very helpful, a girl of about 16 phoned the police for us. We couldn't wheel Titty off the road as the rear wheel was so badly damaged, so it was a difficult drag. The police arrived, their main concern was proof that we owned the tandem!! They wanted documents to demonstrate this. Nothing was going to happen without this. Donna phoned Ruth at JD Tandems in Gargrave, North Yorkshire. As the frame was built specially for us we didn't expect it to have a frame number but Ruth confirmed it does hidden under the cable guide on the rear bottom bracket. Ruth emailed Donna confirmation that we were the owners of tandem with ……….. frame number. I turned Titty upside down, undid all the cable splitters and removed the cable guide so the police could photograph the frame number! Next, we were all breathalysed and gave statements. We were handed a police report and the drivers insurance details,told we were not guilty and then everyone went and we were left by the side of the road in the dark! By that time I was in tears, we were both unhurt but emotions were running high when we consider all the effort we have put in to get this far and in seconds our plans had been destroyed. Donna contacted Anita the owner of the apartment we had booked and she was golden, she drove out to us and collected all our bags. She left her daughter with us who guided us to the apartment. We took turns in holding up the rear end off the ground as you couldn't even drag Titty along, whilst the other pushed and steered. So, what now, the rear wheel, rear pannier frame and mudguard are scrap, the frame looks okay but after consulting JD tandems we will only know if the frame is still true is by putting a new rear wheel in. The frame certainly doesn't look cracked but then it's so filthy it's difficult to say for certain. The next day Anita took us to a bike shop, the first thing they said was no repairs for 5 days! Then of course they don't have the right rim or spokes and would have to order them specially. We could get a new wheel from JD Tandems but with the weekend looming that would also probably be 5 days, this is time that we can ill afford (thinking of Albanian snow). What if we wait for a new wheel then find on fitting it that the frame is twisted - we certainly won't get that rectified here. We have decided we would take that 3 week rest at home earlier than planned, bring Titty back and get her checked out at JD Tandems. The bike shop in Zadar gave us two empty cardboard bike boxes, Anita drove us around to buy bubble wrap, tape and a holdall to put our panniers in. Flights are booked for Monday 27th November and Anita has booked us a taxi minibus to get us, bags and Titty (in two pieces - yes she comes apart) to Zadar airport very early on Monday. Thanks Les for offering to pick us up from the airport, do you want your special pen back now it's had a tour of Europe? We are flying Zadar to Zagreb to Istanbul to Birmingham! A big thanks also to everyone who has offered transport, shopping services, etc. I guess our visit home will actually be longer than 3 weeks but we intend to fly back out in January, probably to Greece to continue our tour. Another thankyou to Anita, without you getting home would have been a lot more difficult and stressful. The tour blog will continue in 2018.
Stephanie Harris Hi Ant, Donna Thank goodness you are both safe and sound. It is probably a good idea to come home! A recharge is needed. Hopefully we can catch up with you sometime in December? Safe journey home both. Xx
Mike Stevenson That’s bad luck guys after all your valiant efforts, I will give you a call in December
Oddy Safe journey home you two xx
Carl, Jenny & Juke xx Thank goodness you are both ok. Safe journey home & hope you both get some well deserved rest & Titty can be repaired xx
Amanda Oh no what a traumatic event ! Good to hear you are both safe and well though. The break at home will do you both lots of good and you will be able to get everything repaired ready for a new start in the new year. Keep on peddling ! xx
Terri Wheatley Glad you are both ok. We are heading to Birmingham on December 19, for a holiday. Hopefully we can get together and have a drink.