Livin’ the dream…
From: Primo Huesepole
Subject: Re: cailifony gum show
Hind sight is 20/20. Yesterday evening I decided to play hooky from work the next day and see the city. I saw an add for “Fat Tire Bicycle Tours”. Normally I tend to shy away from touristy shit like the plague, but these cats were offering Laundry Service which was really compelling considering I was low on clean socks and what not. When we woke up on our hooky morning, the sky looked extremely unhappy. Berlin can be very cool this time of year and rain clouds move by like freight trains. We borrowed some umbrellas from the hotel and rode our bikes real slow through moderate downpour to the Fat Tire bike shop East. We were really considering calling the trip off as the temperature was dipping into the 50’s and the rain was intensifying. We finally got to the Shop and the kids running the place were happy to see us. The 1st thing that I noticed was that they had a well stocked fridge brimming with beer! I guess they must have saw me licking my chops because boss man said “rainy days special, beers for 1e each (less than a buck fitty)! I looked at him suspiciously and asked “how about the talls (half liter)?” Same price! On that note the day was looking sunny despite the crappy weather. We popped our laundry into their machine and sipped beers while we waited for the tour to begin. A couple of boys err young men from England showed up for the Berlin Wall tour, since they had made their reservation the day prior, they seemed determined to ride despite the rain. Henry and his brother Nick looked at the sky and said, “We’re used to this”. As it turned out, there were only 4 of us for the tour. Our tour guide Blakely, or “Bakery” as some people call him supplied us with rain gear. I looked and Bakery, and asked so, are you up for this? He said “are you kidding? Anyone cool enough to ride with me in the rain is a real friend”. Enough said!
I won’t bore you with the amazing history lesson that followed, but I will share with you my second pinche flat. So there we were, on an abandoned rail road tracks that had been converted into a very narrow park (this tour takes you off the beaten path and through some AMAZING back routes). I went over a rock and instantly lost all pressure in my back tire again. FUCK ME RUNNING! I was really regretting not using one of Fat Tire’s beach cruisers with equipped with 26×2.125 KEVLAR tires instead of the skinny euro trash I was riding. Bakery explained to me that his theory about folks running semi flat tires comes from the large amount of broken glass flats caused by that fact that you can carry an open bottle of beer with you LEGALLY anywhere and some individuals drop the bottles wherever they please. That sounded like a reasonable theory, but that didn’t change the fact that we were miles from the shop and my rig needed more tools than we had on us to change a tube. Bakery being THE MAN, said “no problem”, smiled, gave me his bike and with my permission threw a leg over my POS and continued the tour on a flat (at that point I couldn’t give a rats ass about the tire or rim!). Coasting is a pernicious habit anyway. Lunch time rolled around and we were getting hungry, so Bakery dropped us off at a really cool place that used to be a train station that is now a bar/restaurant/club. Bakery took my POS with him to get a new tube or a new bike. Once inside the bar, we found out that our tour mate Henry (18 years old and incurably good natured) was a top notch student in German language, so we had no problems in Bakeries absence. Lunch was probably the best meal that we had eaten so far, we took turns buying rounds of delicious beers until Bakery came back with a new bike to replace mine. (We bought him a well deserved beer as well!)
By now the weather gave us a break. We continued touring through the more populated areas near “Check Point Charley”. I had heard that bicycles have the right of way, but I was stunned when Bakery pulled in front of a moving car, showed the driver his palm and the car driver calmly stopped and let us by. After he had done this several times I was still shocked, I could only imagine the melee that would ensue if you attempted that maneuver in the States! 5 hours after the tour began; we were back at the shop just before a brief squall dumped a ton of rain. My laundry was fresh from the dryer, jeans perfectly dry and the beers were still 1e! I bought beers for all of my new friends, while they changed the tube on my euro trash for a mere 5e. The guys and gals at the shop were so damn cheery, it was contagious. Henry and his brother had signed up for the “Pub Crawl” tour, which sounded really cool, too cool for a work night. However, since I did have to work the next day, we sadly had to part ways. As we sat there sipping our beers, the weather cleared up again. Since I had such a great time and nothing else to do, I inquired about other night tours. Bakery said that he ad a city tour coming up in 45 minutes and that he would love to have us. We went across to the Potsdammerplatz train station and ate Currywurst (curry flavored wieners) potato salad and more beer. We met up with Bakery at the meeting point and no other people had signed up for the Night time City Tour. We were afraid that they would cancel the tour; instead we ended up getting a private tour of the city. This time I used one of Fat Tire’s cruisers. What a fucking difference! You would have to be a fool (like me) to ride anything but a cruiser in Berlin. The upright geometry is perfect for dodging in and out of traffic and the fat tires eat up miles in comfort without worrying about pinche flats. We rode down to the river and hopped on a boat, drank FREE beer for a little while, and then threw our legs over our bikes and check out the Red Light District. I didn’t make any purchases there but the quality was outstanding. Lots of Eastern European beauties hawking their wares. You can always pick out the working girls as they mostly always wear a fanny pack around their wastes. We passed by British Embassy, I thought the place looked as if it were on lock down till I saw the American Embassy. Fucking armed guards, barbed wire and barricades by the truck load. I get the impression that we are not liked?? We stopped and drank beers at a few places while Bakery unloaded a colorful and insightful encyclopedia with of Berlin history on us. I think I stumped him once with a good question, but he had cleverly pulled ahead and went on to the next attraction. The tour ended at a little after 11:00. It is my opinion that the Fat Tire shop is the Cyclist’s Embassy of Berlin. If you need laundry, internet, bike repairs, insightful advice, amazing tours or simply want to hang out and drink cheap beer (price wise) with some cool cats, one cannot go wrong at Fat Tire. I wish I would have known all of this from the get go. But as I always say, “The worse the trip the better the story”….