Here’s why we worry - In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies - CycleBlaze

March 27, 2019

Here’s why we worry

Other than the madness of navigating JFK, our entire flight went very smoothly.  We had a 2-3 hour layover in both JFK and Rome, and arrived in Palermo right before noon.  We caught a taxi to our lodging, La Pomelie B&B.  It’s a lovely place, on the fourth floor of an old palace in the heart of the historic district.  There’s no elevator, but the young couple running the place helped us carry our luggage up the stairs.  It reminded us of how impressed we were with the woman who almost ran up her steep stairs with one of our bike suitcases last fall in Dubrovnik.    We’ll be staying here for two nights, and then for another two nights at the end of the tour.

The Rome airport is a much more comfortable place to hang out than JFK. I’m feeling insecure though - in the country a half hour, and already some Italian hunk is giving Rocky the eye.
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We were very excited by the landscape as we rode from the airport to our lodging. Beautiful, dramatic. Why so green though, we wondered? I wonder what that means.
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The flights all went smoothly, but we were still pretty wiped out when we arrived in Palermo.  We made it through about fifteen minutes of a warm and friendly introduction from our hosts (including a woman whom I assume is the mother of one of them, and who seems like the owner of the place), but then immediately crashed.

After about a two hour nap, we both felt surprisingly refreshed and went out for a short exploration.  We headed immediately to Piazza Bellini, only about two blocks from our room, because it is the site of two great Arab-Norman religious sites, both UNESCO protected: San Cataldo Church and the Martorana.  We didn’t go in either of them though, because the lines were long and because I was a bit confused.  Instead we went into a third site, Byzantine Saint Catherine Church, which faces the other two on the opposite side of the square.  The line to enter Saint Catherine was much smaller, so we decided to go there now and pick up one of the others on the way back from the room when it would presumably be quieter.

This wasn’t to happen though.  Leaving Saint Catherine, we walked a few blocks down to the waterfront for a look around but quickly turned back because it began to rain.  We headed back to Bellini Plaza and walked up to the Martorana, pleased by our timing as a large group was just leaving.    They were leaving though because the site was just closing - it’s only open for two hours in the morning and two more in the afternoon.

We plan on returning in the morning, hopefully before taking a bike ride up into the hills and back along the coast.  I’ll assemble the bikes tonight, and if we get lucky with the weather (rain is in the forecast again tomorrow), we’ll get out for our shakedown ride.

Looking across Piazza Bellini to San Cataldo Church (on the right) and the Martorana. Both date to roughly 1150, and are included in the newly designated UNESCO heratige site that covers seven sites in Arab-Norman Palermo as well as the cathedrals at Cefalu and Monreale.
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Oh. Here’s why it’s so green here now. A good afternoon for indoor pursuits.
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The nave of baroque Saint Catherine Church, also facing on Piazza Bellini. We dashed in here to get out of the rain, when the lines entering the Arab-Norman masterpieces across the square seemed too long. We’ll go back and visit them tomorrow.
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In Saint Catherine Church
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The ceiling in Saint Catherine Church
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After leaving Bellini Plaza we walked down to the waterfront for a very brief look, but were quickly turned back by the rain.
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Back at the room, we have about an hour and a half before the restaurants open so I set right at the bikes.  Reassembly goes smoothly, although I have a scare when my folded frame won’t reassemble correctly.  It looks like one of the forks at the back of the triangle has gotten bent inward slightly, and won’t fit into its slot.  It’s close though, and I try forcing it back into shape using the rear rack as a lever.  Thankfully this works, so it looks like we don’t need to find a bike mechanic with a magic mallet again.

The rest of reassembly goes uneventfully, until I test out the gears on my bike.  The drive train locks up almost immediately, because my derailleur has been caved in at about a 45 degree angle.  Disaster.  This is why I worry about departures.

I broke Rachael’s derailleur two years back on another packing fiasco, which we discovered when we started out from Bilbao.  I’m pretty sure of how I did that one, by packing things too tightly in underneath the bike around the derailleur.  This one mystifies me though.  I didn’t put anything under there this time, and the bike really packed pretty neatly.  I went back and looked at the photo I took when I packed this bike, and I don’t see any obvious cause.  

Taking the two problems together though - the bent fork and bent derailleur - I suspect there’s a relationship somehow.  I don’t think they sit close together in the suitcase, so I don’t think one crushed the other.  I really wonder what happened.  One theory is that TSA unpacked the bike   on a security check and then cobbled it on repacking, but I really don’t know.  I’ll have to give it some thought when we pack them up to fly home in three months.

We’re the only guests tonight at La Pomolie B&B, so we have plenty of room to spread out.
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I don’t really have a good theory of how this happened, but it’s not good. I wonder if TSA unpacked and mis-repacked it. It didn’t occur to me to look at how things were packed before removing the bike.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesThis was always our biggest nightmare when travelling with the bikes. Now that we leave ours with various European friends it is one less worry to start out with.
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2 months ago
Anne MathersScott, I suspect your derailleur hanger is bent which is part of the frame. A good bike shop should easily be able to realign the hanger. For what it’s worth I always remove the derailleur when packing the bikes. Something to think about 3 months from now. Enjoy Sicily! Davida
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Anne MathersHopefully we can find a competent mechanic, and hopefully it will be such an easy fix. And thanks for the suggestion about removing the derailleur. That has never occurred to me.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesThat’s an interesting solution, alright. Sort of like maintaining a pied a terre.
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Scott AndersonInteresting you should say that,we have been half seriously daydreaming of a small place somewhere. Maybe along the southern Rhine?.
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2 months ago

So, no bike ride tomorrow it looks like, come rain or come shine.  We’ll have to find a bike shop and hope we get lucky.  Conceivably the derailleur can be bent back into proper shape, but I’m assuming I’ll be buying a new one if it can be found.

Nothing else to be done tonight though, but eat and drown our sorrows in a glass of wine.  We find a nice, fairly elegant place, Caponada, and sit snugly inside by the window watching the downpour and a small river gush down the street outside.

The Pretoria Fountain
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The view from our window-side table at dinner. There was a fair sized stream cascading down the street, strong and deep enough so that it washed a floating orange down the block as we watched.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesNice to watch from inside, not so great when out in it.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/GrampiesRight. Looks like we should have stayed in sunny Portland after all.
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2 months ago
The rain was just easing off when we left the restaurant and headed back to our room. Not too wet, but still we appreciated the protection of the tiny overhang.
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Sue PriceHope it all works out! What a bummer right at the start!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Sue PriceThanks, Sue. This is why we always stay two nights at our arrival town now, and arrive at a time of week when things are open. Of course, if we just didn’t book everything up front, we’d have all the time we want to resolve this.
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2 months ago