Monday, October 26, 2015

Crashing Hard in Venezuela

I open my eyes. I am sliding on my chest. I quickly close them again.
What's happening?!? Something tells me to keep my eyes closed and wait out whatever it is that is happening. It all goes so fast. I'm tumbling now. Is this ever going to stop! I'm on my chest again. My head is sideways. It takes a second for it to sink in that I'm not moving anymore. Wow! What just happened?!? I open my eyes. I can see dry grass and some bushes around me. I've crashed... How???

I am trying to think of what happened but there is a black hole in my memory. Not a clue! Am I hurt? I don't feel any pain. Ok, calm down. What to do? If I were in a western country now I would not move a muscle. I am not in a western country. I'm in Venezuela. Far away from a big city with a hospital. Well, let's see how bad it is. I move my fingers. No problem there! That's a relief! I try to move my toes. Fully functional! Great! My arms, my legs. All in one piece! I slowly move my head. OW! That hurts! I can move it but it hurts my neck. Moving my shoulders is very painful too. I should stay down and not move at all. I am in Venezuela. These people don't have much. They might take everything from me while I'm down here. It is a terrible thought and I know it's not true, but there is a lot going through my mind.

OK. Let's get up. I slowly get on my knees. So far so good. I put my feet down. Slowly, slowly I stand up. I'm dizzy. Apart from my shoulders and neck I don't feel any pain. This can't be right. Not after rolling and sliding for what seemed like forever. I check myself from top to bottom. I feel my bones. I feel my joints. It all seems to be ok. Again. I apply more pressure to my body this time. Nothing. No way! I check myself at least a dozen times. My KLiM pants are badly damaged on the side of my upper leg. I check for bleeding. None. I check my jacket and my chest. My chest is a bit sore but nothing is broken. I see the chest protection in my jacket. Thank you! I check my knees and legs yet again. Thank you! My arms, elbows and shoulders. All good. Thank you. Thank you guardian angels and thank you KLiM. I look at my hands. They work perfectly. The Racer Gloves have done their job! The slider blocks on the palms of my hands wore down quite a bit but they did what they are supposed to do. My right pink-finger is a bit shaky. Shock? Thank god it was attached to the ring-finger, otherwise I'm betting it would be broken. Thank you!

I turn my head and see my bike tucked under a bush. I look away. A terrible thought goes through my mind. I wrecked my bike. I wrecked my buddy. I wrecked my first bike that has taken me all over the world. A tear roles down my cheek. I can't look at him again and walk away. I walk towards the road through what looks like a yard sale of all my belongings. My Gobi cases, my big Zarges box, the Mosko's. There is stuff everywhere. I can't look at it. I slowly walk to the road. My vision is a bit blurred. A truck and some cars have pulled over. People are walking towards me. They look like they see a dead man walking. A man asks me if I am OK. With tears in my eyes I tell him I'm alright. They just stand there looking at me. I walk down the road. I want to know what happened. 150 Feet down the road there is a big scratch in the tar. I walk to the middle of the lane. My right foot slips. Damn! An oil slick! It is not visible at all but it feels like I'm skating on ice. That explains a lot! I still can't recall what happened. I'm just missing a few seconds of my life.

[​IMG] This is some seriously slippery tar! (picture taken later that day) Sorry, no pictures of the crashed bike as I did not feel like taking out a camera.
[​IMG]
Is that sun reflecting off the tar or... The twin left his signature on the road before getting off the beaten path.

I walk back towards the bike. I start picking up some stuff. My GoPro is one of the first things I find. It must have snapped off the helmet. The people that have been staring at me start helping me collect my stuff. What if... Whatever. They are helping me. A army vehicle arrives on the scene. The guards from the checkpoint a mile down the road. How do they know? Did they hear the crash? I realize that I have no memory of any sounds during the crash. It must have been loud. They ask me if I need an ambulance. I tell them no as I don't want to leave my bike and my stuff here. They too start helping to gather my stuff. Everything is being put in a big pile on the side of the road. Then it's time to face reality. My Africa Twin.

There he is, tucked under the bush. The soldiers push the bushes to the side and then help me lift my bike. My neck hurts. But I stopped caring. The bike is a mess. The handle bar is completely bent, the mirrors are gone, the windscreen has broken off, the indicators snapped off, the pannier frame is cracked and bent, the riding lights are broken. We push the bike out of the bush. At least the wheels and the forks are ok! The soldiers start pushing the bike towards the road but I stop them. I want to know if he is still alive. I put the gears in neutral and push the start button. The starter is working. And then... Vrooooom! The V Twin is alive and kicking! What a relief! On engine power we walk the bike up to the tar. The soldiers offer to take me and my stuff back to the checkpoint. We load up the truck and I insist riding my bike there. I quickly check the bike and with the steering positioned at a 45 degree angle to go straight forward, I think I am ready to do this. I thank everyone for their help as two boys come over with some plastic parts and a lip balm. Literally everything came out of these bushes and was given back to me. I doubt any of them will ever read this but I want to thank everyone there for showing me yet again how much good there is in this world and I hope they can forgive me for some of the thoughts that flashed through my mind earlier.

The throttle is stuck. Whatever. Just go slow. The bike starts moving. No wobble. That's great! Within the solitude of my helmet the tears start flowing freely. I don't know if it is sadness, about the state of my bike, or happiness because I am riding. Back at the checkpoint they ask me again if I need to see a doctor. I tell them no but after we unload the truck and get everything in a shady spot, I lay down. After 10 minutes I get up again and start assessing the damage. The bike needs a lot of welding and bending. The Hepco & Becker Gobi Cases did their job again. They took the initial impact and then the locks snapped off, as they are supposed to do in case of a big crash so as not to bend the frame. Everything inside the cases is perfectly intact. The Twin seems to have flipped over a few times during the crash. The broken windscreen and my Zarges case tell me this. The back of the Zarges case looks like an accordion. I open the box and check my stuff. My laptop was right under the "retractable part" of the instrument. I hit the power button and a familiar sound tells me it is still working and it was well protected. The Mosko Moto Scouts are damaged. They took a beating and came off during the accident but the mounts are still perfect and the bags slide back on without a problem. The inner bag is still waterproof. Great work Pete!

[​IMG] Not so straight anymore... Racks bent and indicators broken.
[​IMG]
The impact was so hard, the USA was completely wiped off the face of... my map.

[​IMG]
Find the 3 problems with this picture! ... Bent handlebar, cracked windscreen, no mirror.

[​IMG]
The new handlebar setup makes for an interesting riding experience. The stuck throttle makes for some real adventure riding.

[​IMG] And then there was... no light.
[​IMG] The Mosko's took the first impact. Although badly damaged from sliding over the road, they are still operational and the inner bag is still waterproof.
[​IMG]
Why you always wear a helmet...

[​IMG]
Shattered memories.

[​IMG]
Libby, the black dog from Black Dog Cycle Works, puts a smile back on my face.

[​IMG]
The pants are damaged but my leg is not. Thanks KLiM!

[​IMG]
The abrasion resistant fabric did it's job.

[​IMG]
The Gobi's are slightly damaged as well but an aluminum box would have had an entirely new shape after a crash like this. Love these cases!

[​IMG] What's left of the slider blogs on the Racer Gloves.
[​IMG]
Behind a building I find a metal rod and I start bending back my handlebar. I put some force into it and all of a sudden my vision blurs completely. I can't see sharp at all. I blink my eyes but nothing changes. I get dizzy again. I lay down and close my eyes. Take your time man. 20 minutes later my vision is back for 90%. I don't want to spend the night here. I need to be in a bed tonight and I need someone to come and check on me now and then. I get up and start strapping everything to the bike. I get in my gear and get on the bike. The soldiers wish me good luck and I am on my way.

I want to take this opportunity to thank a few people for supporting us with some of the best gear in the world. I always heard about how good KLiM gear is but walking away without a scratch from a 50/60 mile/hour crash, sliding over tar and off the road into the dirt, seriously attests to the safety features of my Badlands riding gear. I'm especially thankful for the chest protection and the D3O armor for keeping me in one piece. The abrasion resistant panels hardly show a scratch. A big thank you to Lee from Racer Gloves USA for insisting that I ride in the High Racer Glove. The palm sliders and the built-in bridge from pinky-finger to ring-finger kept my most important tools intact. Thank you to Hepco & Becker for my engine guards and my Gobi cases that act like a roll cage and take the initial impact in crashes like this. I also want to thank Honda for creating the perfect travel bike for me. After 160.000 Miles and many smaller and bigger crashes it is still going strong. I am incredibly thankful for walking and riding away from a crash like this. I guess guardian angels do exist...

19 comments:

  1. Roel,
    You scared the s**** out of me.... I am VERY happy you were properly equiped and I am sure the tears are for being alive and having a working engine. Metal can be repaired... You? we just can't replace and I know Azure is dead worried about You!!!
    Sending my thoughts to You!!
    Phil

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  2. Yes indeed I know the feeling... went down in Poland in the same circumstances.....spilt diesel fuel in the roundabout....looks like water....woke up in the bushes not knowing what happened...!

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  3. Find the paving contractor and make him eat a shit sandwich at gunpoint !

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  7. I am so sorry we didn't talk about this more last night . . . I had no idea this had happened though I did sense some tension but had no idea what was behind it. I thank your lucky stars that you are okay after all that . . . Good luck with the reassembly and continued travels. I'm keeping Skype open should you wish to talk. love you guys

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  8. I am from venezuela, if you need any help let me know. gonzalo g.romer.roche@gmail.com. i know many people with africa twins.

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  9. Glad to hear you're OK. I know it's a very trivial thing in the scheme of things, but can I post you a new Kangaroos warning sticker for your new screen? Cheers from down under, Simon.

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  10. Sometime you need Luck - and you had it. Go on - good Luck! Warm Greetings from a Africa Twin Driver!

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  11. Wow Azure, be careful! Close call but a great story you will always have tucked away. Best of luck on your trip. One Scorpio to another, your passion will drive you to your destination. Just don't let it tear you apart ;-)

    ~Andy

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  12. Wow Azure, be careful! Close call but a great story you will always have tucked away. Best of luck on your trip. One Scorpio to another, your passion will drive you to your destination. Just don't let it tear you apart ;-)

    ~Andy

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