Accidents and Incidents

Day 32 – Who’s That Trip Trapping on my Bridge?

So today we have to leave Hickatee Cottages.  This has been our favourite place to stay in Belize so far, and we’ll miss Ian and Kate, and their wonderful humour, opinions, and hospitality.

I’m up early to photograph some of their plants, and to take a hike in the jungle on the trails around their property.  We have a light breakfast, and we’re off with hugs and handshakes to see the Chocolate Plantation.

Familiar with the route, we head back on the gravel roads towards the Butterfly Farm.  On and off it has been raining, but never heavy enough to get our rain gear out.  Even the heavy moments pass quickly.  We ask locals a few times for directions and realise that we’ve passed it.  I gingerly turn the bike around on the wet, loose gravel.  I think we now know exactly where it is.

Up ahead is a narrow wooden bridge.  The boards are uneven, and slick from the rain.  About halfway across I feel the bike slipping, and then the front tire drops into a groove between two boards.  I can’t wrestle it back out and I feel the bike tipping to the left.  The bridge has no railing, and if we tip now we’re falling 20 feet into the rocky creek below.  I can tell I’ve lost control.

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I didn’t want to go down the middle b/c of rotten boards…

In an instant I make the decision that I’d rather crash on the other side of the bridge than over the edge.  I twist the throttle and yell to Rebecca that we’re crashing!

We almost make the other side before the bike goes off the bridge.  The front wheel hits the bank and I’m in the air.  I can tell this is going to be a bad one.  At one point I can see the bike in the air above me doing a pirouette.  I can hear Rebecca screaming, but don’t know where she is.  As things start to slow down I realise that we’re in the creek bed, and the bike is above us, hanging on the bridge.  Still not sure where Rebecca is I’m yelling for her to get under the bridge because I’m sure the bike isn’t quite done its acrobatics.

Safely under the bridge I try to assess if Rebecca is okay.  She’s really shaken up, and not making sense yet.  The bike is above us, in shambles, but still running.  I grab Rebecca and firmly say, “I need to know if you’re okay?!  Is there anything that hurts or won’t move?”  Holding back tears she tells me she thinks she’s okay.  I rush back over to the bike to look for the kill switch amidst all the pieces and tangles of vegetation.  Above us I can hear people running to the scene.  That’s when I notice my right thigh doesn’t feel good.  I can tell something bad has happened to it, but I can put weight on it and walk, so I’ll deal with it later.

We clamour up the embankment to find the entire village out to see if we’re okay.  Before long lots of men show up with ropes, and together we haul the bike off the edge of the bridge and back onto the road.  All in all, it doesn’t look too bad.

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Oops

Now to look at my leg.  I step off the roadway and unzip my riding pants.  Most of my thigh has swollen up almost an inch, and half my leg is turning colour already.  I know what already hurts is going to hurt even more tomorrow.

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The aftermath

The next couple of hours are spent assessing the damage, and putting things back together.

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Roadside repairs with an audience

  1. Windshield destroyed (and cut my riding pants)
  2. Handlebars bent forward (courtesy of my thigh)
  3. Cell phone mount broken (and 4 matching bruises just below my groin)
  4. Left Side Jesse Pannier punctured in 2 spots
  5. Left Side Jesse bracket bent badly (1 hour bending it gets it close enough to ride with a bungee cord for added security)
  6. Left Side Jesse Lid bent – no longer water proof – cooking gear in that side, so okay
  7. Left side Throttle Body dislodged
  8. Left side Throttle Cable unseated
  9. Left side Engine Cover Guard sheared off (now held in place with bailing wire)
  10. Engine not running well.  Stuttering and sputtering.

Still shaken, we decide that the Chocolate Plantation will have to wait until another trip to Belize.  We limp the bike north 2 hours to Placencia to see if Jacki still has a room at Casa Placencia for us, and see if we can get in touch with a guy in Maya Beach who knows BMW’s.  We were given his number last week in San Ignacio by a fellow GS rider “just in case”.

Fuel mileage is way off, so we barely get to Placencia on the tank.  Safe and sound in our hotel room, we ice my leg and head to RumFish for Rebecca’s Fish Tacos, and some ice cream at Tutti Frutti’s.  Scary day.

Discovered later…

Throttle Position Switch broken (low idle stall, 4000 RPM engine stutters)

Left Front Fork Seal shot

Categories: Accidents and Incidents, Belize | 2 Comments

Day 17 – The Road Warrior

The big goal today is to make it to my friend Alicia’s house in Merida.  It’s almost 800 kilometers away, so I’m up early and down the road.  As I pass through Paraiso I wish I had more time.  I looks like a quiet little beach town.  I do stop for lunch, though, at La Posta on recommendations from someone in the Mexio City BMW club.  What a great place!  A wonderful salad buffet with too many offerings,  Soups, breads, and lots of fresh seafood,  Then comes the tableside offerings of 17 different meats.  I tried 3 different styles of chicken, a bacon wrapped filet mignon, and some excellent salted roast beef. I wish I was feeling 100% because there was so much more I would have liked to have tried.  All that, with a waterfront view, for less than $25.

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Seaside Restaurant (La Posta)

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Amazing Seaside buffet lunch

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My first Iguana sighting!

But time is getting tight and I don’t want to drive into Merida at night, so back to blasting some more miles.

Not long into the ride my GPS flashes and I’m getting a low rear tire pressure warning.  I switch the screen to see the situation and tire that is supposed to be at 50psi is at 32.  Then 30.  Then 28,  I have a rapid leak, and I’m at 140kmph.  My new Garmin 390LM just saved my life,  I drop down to 80 kmph and start looking for somewhere to pull off.  There is a little pueblo coming up.  22lbs.  I’m off the highway 18 lbs… and in every little pueblo there always seems to be a vulcanizadora; tire mechanic,  And there’s his shop.  15 lbs.  Phew!

I know the routine at this point.  We remove the rear wheel and he finds a puncture, but no nail or screw.  It’s patched, and back on the bike in less than 40 minutes.  Some of his friends drop by to check out the bike, and we all have a few laughs about my trip so far.  Before long his younger sister is posing on the bike, and he’s suggesting that she’s really pretty, and should take her back to Canada with me.  I smile, agree she’s adorable, but that I need to pick my wife up in 2 days in Cancun, and there isn’t enough room for both of them on the bike.  We all laugh, and I’m back on the highway.

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2nd Flat Tire!

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The Tire Mechanic`s sister posing on the bike

Now the highway is paralleling the ocean, and flocks of pelicans are flying in formations along side me.  Every now and then an entire formation dives one at a time into the ocean, getting dinner.  Very cool.  Soon the sun sets in reds and yellows over the ocean in my rearview mirrors, and although I’m concerned about riding at night, I’ve already passed Campeche, and Merida is the next big city.  I’ll be there in less than 2 hours, and the highway has been smooth so far.

Before long I’m graced with a huge full moon in front of me, and my PIAA driving lights are keeping the road illuminated quite well.   Next thing I know I’m in front of Alicia’s house.  Mission accomplished.

Categories: Accidents and Incidents, Mexico | Leave a comment

Day 14 – Sucked

Well there had to be a day that would suck.  Today was it.

Left my awesome hotel in Mexico City and headed south for Cuernovaca and Oaxaca.  In my morning check of the bike I notice that the rear tire pressure is only 30 PSI.  It should be 50.  I stop at the next Pemex for gas and get them to pump the tire up.  I’ll have to keep an eye on it today.

The traffic leaving the city was horrid, but that was to be expected.  I took the free road rather than the toll highway on the recommendation of the BMW guys.  It’s far more interesting, but once I got on it I kept getting caught behind cars and trucks.  The road is VERY winding, so there were very few places to pass, and I spent most of it under 40 kmph.  Then I got into Cuernovaca.  What a traffic jam.  Over an hour of crawling along, most of the time in neutral.  My GPS took me to the wrong garden, and then after several confused directions from locals, I final arrive at the Ethnobotanical Garden.

It’s nice, and I got a few ideas and pictures of plants, but somehow I wasn’t in the mood for gardens today.  There was something nagging me in the back of my mind all day.  Just a sense of dread.  Like knowing a storm is coming.

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Cuernovaca Ethnobotanical Gardens

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So, I head out to see the next garden, hoping I can get through the rest of Cuernovaca’s traffic as quick as possible and be back on the open roads.

Finally on a highway, I check my tire pressures again.  The rear is back down to 30.  I pull off at the next Pemex, get a splash of fuel (I don’t really need any), and get them to pump the tire back up.  Tonight I’ll have to look for the leak.  Just as I’m about to leave I hear the rear tire dramatically deflate.  The valve stem has blown out.  To make matters worse, that’s the only part of the tire I don’t have a spare for … they’re sitting forgotten on my work bench at home, along with a mental note forgotten a few days ago that I should grab some spares at the next auto shop I see.

Now what to do?

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Broken Valve Stem

After 30 minutes of back and forth in jibberish Spanish from me, and confused and dismayed looks from the attendants, they finally summon Jorge, who speaks some English.  He gets permission to borrow his boss’s car so he can take me to a tire shop in town.  Meanwhile, I struggle to get the rear tire off.  The ‘other’ thing I forgot to get before the trip was a large Torx wrench to remove the rear brake caliper.  That’s the only tool missing in my kit, and it’s the one I need today.

Using an allen key that sort of fits I manage to get one of the 2 bolts out of the caliper, but I almost strip the 2nd one trying.  I wonder if the tire will come off with the caliper loosened?  The ‘strong man’ of the gas station, Ricardo, lifts the back of the bike up while I shake the wheel loose.  It works!  We stuff my tail bags under the swing arm to keep the bike in the air, and off I go with Jorge.

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My “Bike Shop”

A few miles down a side road we find a lady at a roadside tire shop.  She has valve stems, and quickly dismounts the tire, replaces the stem, and checks the tire over for other damage.  I buy a 2nd valve stem from her just in case.  75 pesos later I’m back to the Pemex with Ricardo lifting the bike while I reinstall the wheel.  With some cheers, handshakes, pats on the backs, and some Canadian flag gifts I’m back on the road.  4 hours has passed, and I probably won’t have time to visit Jardines de Mexico.  Another hour farting around on the highway back and forth without finding it and I know it’s time to look for accommodations.

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Olivia working on my tire

I was going to camp tonight, but I just don’t have it in me.  I’ve only seen one mediocre garden today, put less than 200 km behind me, and never stopped for breakfast or lunch.  It’s 8pm, I grabbed some tacitos at a stand in Taxco, and am bunkered down in a horrid, cheap motel for the night with no AC, internet, or water pressure, and a squeaky ceiling fan.  I feel like I’m in the opening hotel scene of Apocalypse Now, minus the alcohol.  Maybe that’s what I’m missing?!

At the least the bike is safely locked behind a gate.

I’m going to bed.  Tomorrow will be better.

Categories: Accidents and Incidents, Mexico | 2 Comments

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