(6.8.2012) I hear a loud bang behind me. I know it is Paul’s bike for I have just overtaken him. I turn arround within a second and what I see let’s thousands of thoughts rush trough my head.
We should have been more carefully, why, what can I do, will he get hurt….
I see Paul hanging over the steer at nearly 40km/h, his front wheel slipps to the side and he crashes on the rough asphalt, his bike on top of him. Like this he slides about 5 meters over the street. He immediatelly gets up, pulls himself out under the bike and says as if he could read my mind:” everything allright, I was lucky”. But he wasn’t.
As he turns round and try’s to lift his bike I see his t-shirt getting wet and blood running down his back. Suddenly he seems to realize that his knee is bleeding as well. He swears and carefully walks to the side of the road.
At further examination we notice his right hand, his hip, his elbow, his shoulder and his knee are seriously scratched. The stones of the asphalt have cut deep wounds in to his joints.
The pain starts.
He screams at me to get the first aid pack, get him painkillers and disinfection spray. He wants to clean out the wounds before the numbness of the shock stops and the wounds start to burn.
Luckily he and the bike don’t have any fractions, only scratches and bruises. The damage on the bike is repairable.
The fork is bent back a little, the steer is scratched, the bags are partly ripped and some holders are broken off. The worst damage is on our front mounted camera. The display is completely scratched and gives a beautiful mixture of all colors it can display, but no picture. Like a dying star that once more gives all he can. It will probably go black the next days. Luckily it still can take pictures. We checked it bye making pictures and then looking at them in another camera.
I spent the following 5 hours helping Paul, repairing the bike and researching the accident and it’s cause while Paul is sleeping.
The cause: (to understand it better, look at the picture)
We had gotten up real early to start riding before the wind would start blowing against us. To make the best of the day we had been sprinting the whole morning and were about to break our tour record: nearly 70 km in two hours. Like this we could stop riding in the midday-heat and find a place to sleep real early.
To save power we rode close behind each other to be more aerodynamic and maximize our efficiency.
It appears to have happened like this:
I overtake Paul for it is my turn sprinting against the wind so he can go close behind me to use my lee-side. We switch every 10 km.
To be able to ride even closer behind me Paul leans over the steer to grab the front mounted camera and pull it up to his steer. We both have performed this action thousands of times before. There never has been a problem.
This time the camera slipped out of Paul’s hand. The spring that suspends the camera falls out of its hook and gives the camera the opportunity to make use of the security rope which is supposed to keep the camera from getting into the wheel in such a case.
But, the security rope let loose as well. We still don’t know why it was not knotted to the camera properly, but it wasn’t. Maybe the knot opened through all the vibrations, or the tension was to much.
Anyway, the rest of the accident could have been worse. Instead of catapulting Paul over the steer like a blocked front wheel usually does at 40 km/h, the camera luckily gets under the wheel, on its slippery display the tire looses grip and slips away sidewards. This probably saves Paul from getting fractures and lets him go down smoothly on the rough asphalt. Well, if you can call it smoothly when you slide over a cheese-grater-like asphalt for 5 meters in shorts and t-shirt.
All in all he was very lucky.
The previous day (4.8.2012) we had left Qiemo. The place we had slept there was one of the ugliest we ever camped at. Muddy ground, thousands of strange insects, hot and steamy and directly next to the main road, the real G 315, so allot of traffic, even at night.
At least we had delicious dinner. We had bought a whole dug, grilled and spiced, which we ate pure without anything with it.
We stood up in the rain and left for the desert again.
After 50 km we gave up. The wind was so strong that day, we felt like having cycled hundreds of kilometers.
At the end of a small side road we found the perfect place to camp between low trees growing in the sand. Right next to us was a huge and extremely fast river which was definitely to dangerous to swim in. Huge trunks from trees out of the mountains rolled down in it and would have smashed everything in their way. Luckily there was a small sandbank that we could use for washing and laundry.
The sandbank got flooded in a periodic rhythm, a little like very fast changing low and high tide. When the water rushed back we went in, dipped our clothes in the muddy water and hurried back as soon as the river came swapping to words us again. A trunk passing me by nearly took my shorts with it. Luckily the shorts are cheap quality so the textile broke before the trunk could tare it out of my hands and make it disappear for ever.
As soon as the sun is about to set and we creep into our sleepingbags, the wind changes to tailwind. We both hope that it will stay like this until the morning.
We get up at five o’clock to make use of the tailwinds. And indeed. We travel far, we travel fast, until a unforeseeable
event suddenly ends our sprint.
The consequences are that we look for the next best place to camp. It is about fife kilometers further. Paul had trampled to there with one leg only. He spreads the other, hurt one away from the bike to avoid painful contact. It looks kind of funny, I can’t avoid laughing and Paul joins me. He reminds me of the black knight from the movie ” the holy grail” by Monty pythons (see this link). Even when defeated completely he doesn’t give up and sees himself as the winner.
We camp on sandy ground. I finish the oven by building the oven door, cook dinner and prepare everything for an early night. We again want to get up early for four reasons. First, if paul is magically better in the morning we can go on. Second, if it gets worse we don’t want to wait until the heat of the midday to get him to hospital. Third, most of the trucks pass by in the morning. And last but not least, we noticed that in the desert the morning is the most beautiful time.
And it indeed is again. As we see the sun rise between the old trees we slept under, we both know again why we do this trip. I pack all the stuff, and we leave to the street. After giving up on the attempt to tow Paul behind me we hitchhike to the next town with a coal transporter. Good roads get us 90 km further within one and a half hour. We ask for a pharmacy to get Paul new bandages and find a little store that is supposed to have what we need. Lots of medicine but nothing we can use. So the friendly boy from the pharmacy brings Paul to the local doctor, who takes care professionally of Paul’s wounds. While I wait, a curious crowd gathers around our bikes.
It is this kind of situation when I would rather be alone than tell people again and again please not to touch the cameras lens and not to bent the solar panel. But I have no choice.
As always, these people can not admit that they don’t know something. They hardly ever ask questions. They only look, touch and smell on things to explain it to each other afterwards. How often have I heard weird explanations over our stuff. Some point at the camera and say ” gps, navigator” with certainty in their voice, or they point at the solar panel and then to the telephone, saying “antenna”, then looking everyone around them in the eye , nodding, to make sure they all understood it. One time I attempted to correct the superficial knowledge of one elder man who had just explained the whole system of our bikes to his companions, including the engine in the hub of the rear wheel and the there for needed petrol tanks ( what he meant was our rohloff-gear an our waterbottle refilling system). When I was ready with explaining, he looked at me angrily and said something I did not understand. Then he took of, offended. I never corrected anyone again, I now let them run free in their fantasies about our bikes, in the end it doesn’t matter if it is wrong or right.
Like this, the people are at least very friendly.
I got offered a chair to sit while waiting for Paul, got chunks from a watermelon and got invited by an old Chinese man to drink ” schnaps” with him. I kindly rejected the offer in the heat of the midday.
Paul comes back to the bikes, smiling, he looks relieved. ” the doctor said that nothing got infected so far, we can maybe go on again in two days”
Well that’s really good news considering that I thought of weeks for Paul’s complete rehabilitation.
The doctor comes running after Paul with two watermelons in his hands. He forgot to say that Paul should change the bandages every two days. He gives us the watermelons and as far as I understand, wishes us good luck.
By the way Paul’s treatment was completely free of charge, he paid no cent. What a friendly town.
We take of. Heavy as never before with two watermelons that weight about 15 kilos in my low riders (frontwheelbags) and fully refilled water reserves, we find a place to sleep only a few kilometers further. A perfect place to stay the rest of the day. A small river brings cool air to the shadow under a tree, Paul lies down immediately and I start writing this monster of a blogpost. Now I am finished an will go for a refreshing swim in the river. Dive in.
Powered by Facebook Comments