Day 138 Harrisonburg, West Virginia

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Before setting off I adjust the wheel to tighten the chain, again. It’s pretty bad now. Not long later I stop for gas and notice that the chain is once again very slack. It’s badly stretched and the rear sprocket is almost totally worn away. I do my best to stabilise it, and ask in a petrol station for a bike shop. There’s one 25 miles up the interstate.

Gingerly I ride there, mulling over my options. I have a spare at home, so worst case I’ll be stuck here a few days waiting for it. It’s annoying after thinking I’d pretty much made it to the end. There are some loud noises from the rear as some sprocket teeth meet their demise and I slow even more.

I make it to the dealer, despite being almost eaten by several big rigs as I dawdle along. With the help of advice from Dave Lambeth by phone, we discover they have a suitable sprocket in stock at their wharehouse, so I could be out of here tomorrow. Then, incredibly, they announce that they’ve measured up and found a sprocket in the shop that will fit. I could be out of here today! Even more amazingly, they have a new rear sprocket, my spare front, and a new chain, fitted within the hour, and I’m on my way with almost no delay. Amazing! Suddenly I’m very glad I carried a spare front sprocket almost all the way round the world.

The bike rides perfectly until the sun gets low and I stop at a motel. With 340 miles to go, I’ll be in new york in another one or two days. It’s hard to believe I’m so close! I’m really grateful and impressed by the guys at Mark 4. It was almost as good as the service and desire to help that you find in Russia!

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