...And Allah said unto Muhammad, “One day a man will come out of the West, seeking transportation. Sell him your finest 3-speed...”

Now Muhammad’s 3-speed was pretty old and decrepit by the time I came along. Still, Muhammad claimed it was the country’s finest one, even though Afghanistan has never possessed a documented bicycle manufacturer. He pointed to the head badge, which read “ACE,” and stated that it was an acronym for Afghani Cycling Equipment. Later, when I happened to be cleaning the bike, I discovered a blackened out “M” (as in ACME). It turned out to be a Kazakhstan knock-off of a popular 1940’s Sears & Roebuck model.

Afghanistan, like Iran, shares a very conservative, fundamentalist climate and, wanting to respect such cultural traditions, I always kept my ankles covered while pedaling through these lands. It’s a curious irony that the Dance of the Seven Veils, should come from this part of the world. But to be a good stripper, I guess you need some build-up, and the layered look affords some lengthy drama. And so this would also become the scenario with my new friend, ACE.

Not long outside of Farah, the chainguard was caught by the spinning crank arm, and torn off. About 145km later, on some particularly rough pavement, the kick-stand flew off in a jaunty, come what may manner. About 205km later, when crossing the Helmand River, the mudguards were swept away in the torrid waters. About 180km from the Pakistani border, the searing heat of the road pealed the tyres right off their rims. Another 55km and the rim strips snapped off, like the undergarments they purport to be. 100km more and the spoke nipples began to unwind. Finally, 5km from the Pakistani border, the bicycle collapsed in a state of exhaustion, unable to shimmy, bump, or grind another meter. I stuffed a few bills under her seat cover, and bid ACE adieu.

See you next month when I’ll resume my pedaling into Pakistan, and the Indian subcontinent.   Until then, beware of loose bicycles -Global Freddie.

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Criterium Corner with Euro Freddie