Another email I’ve just got to share:
From: Primo Huesepole
Subject: Re: cailifony gum show
There is a certain Zen to riding with under inflated bicycle tires. Avoiding obstacles that might give one a pinche flat or dent one’s rims is somehow not an obvious occupation for the bike riding localers in Berlin . They cruise around on flat tires like it ain’t no thang. However, anyone who knows me well tell you that I am about as Zen as a car crash. Semi flat tires are not my bag man. Paranoia set in and every bump in the road would raise an eyebrow and force me to take my eyes off of the heavy Berlin traffic to steal a glance at my bike tires. Not the best scenario, considering that I was going toe to toe with cab drivers and tour busses inches from my handlebars. Faced the prospect of backtracking to the gas station as the sun was setting, I began asking passerbys about the prospect of getting some air down town. No such luck. Finally, I asked one of the many cycle taxis pilots. They were more than happy to help out!
A bear of a human that I will refer to as a Human SUV, dug through his pack of tools and found a pump. He grinned and told me the air was free and should I need a flat tire fixed the price would be 5e (I flipped him a 2e coin and thanked him profusely for the help). Good to know the professional riders are also a great cycling resource. He gave me a few “atmospheres” of pressure and frowned. The old tire had never seen this kind of pressure and the tread was threatening to split. FUCK IT! I am riding as God intended, with properly inflated tires! Pistol Pete told me that the folks in Osaka Japan ride their tires half flat as well. I guess we are just not that cool.
The streets of Berlin are a mix of asphalt and cobble stone. Reds light mean nothing more than to look both ways and the well marked bike paths are numerous. Both car traffic and pedestrians give bikes the right of way with the slightest ringing of ones bell. You can throw a leg over and put on some miles like you mean it. Also, tall graceful women ride elegantly through the streets and snub you with a euro indifference that is absolutely charming.
The popular consensus among the folks at our hotel for authentic Berlin dining was a place ironically named “Budweiser”. We rode over to the Budweiser and locked our bike frames to a pole. Not surprisingly, bicycle component theft is almost unheard of in Berlin. Thieves steal wholes bikes as most of the components they use here are worth $5 or less in my opinion. The Budweiser is an ancient place in the basement of a hotel. Pictures of old German movie starts line the dark wooden walls. Cigarette smoke hung so heavy in the air that I actually gagged as I sat down and picked up a menu. I am not a smoker, nor am I an anti smoke advocate. However, the atmosphere was absolutely punishing. Everyone was smoking including the waitresses. I wasn’t going to puss out, so I order a few cold beers to dull the olfactory glands. Beer takes several minutes to serve in Berlin as they are very careful about the way that the beers are poured.
Some giant localer dude sitting in the corner recognized that I was a tourist, smiled at me and said “be careful they have real beer here”.
“Why do you say that”, I asked.
He laughed and said, “American beer isn’t even suitable to wash windows with because it is too weak!”
That sounded like a challenge, however, at the moment my green complexion was probably speaking volumes about my diminished stoicism. He was correct, after three tall beers I stood up to use the head, only to discover that I was quite buzzed. The food ended up being pretty damn good despite having been marinated in cigarette smoke. The ride home was all the more sweet in the cool fresh evening air.