Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Accident (Not Rio Mayo)

First let me apologize for not having any photos.  In retrospect I should have been more diligent in my picture taking, but hopefully you will understand why maybe my priorities changed.

Well, we didn’t exactly make it to Rio Mayo, Argentina.  On the way, I had decided to stop and take a couple pictures of the very scenic area we were riding through.  In order to do this I have to remove my rain gear.  When I stopped, Chuck went on and I was going to catch up with him after I took my pictures.

The city El Bolson was about 6 miles ahead. We were planning on getting gas there. I was looking at my speedometer at MPH and gas usage odometer, also trying to gauge with my GPS how far it was and the speed in KPH to El Bolson, the time and when I looked up I had wandered into the center of the lane, which was also occupied by … a tour bus. I was traveling at least at 70 mph south bound and knowing these buses he was probably doing about the same north bound. So our combined speed was somewhere around 140mph.

I glanced off the side of the bus with a loud whooomp sound.  The back of bike came around to my right and just flung me off.  I hit the road looking at my bike leaving me on the left side and all my stuff from my left side case being flung everywhere.  As I came to a stop I watched the bike enter the left shoulder in a cloud of dust and flinging rocks.  I stood up, not exactly knowing what to expect in terms of pain. 

But I felt nothing, no pain, it was almost like I had ended up just standing in the road watching all this happen.  But I looked down at my rain gear and it was shredded.  The bus had stopped and slowly the drivers emerged, one at a time.  I looked at the road and saw all my stuff behind me.  So I started walking back towards the bus, flinging everything in the road to the shoulder.  Eventually I walked all the way to the bus.

Still no pain, but now I could tell much of my protective gear had done what it should have.  My pants knees had holes, the elbow of my jacket had a big hole, my glove had one of the protective pads pulled out, almost everything I was wearing had something damaged, and my rain suit was damaged beyond repair.  Because it was shredded, I looked like a scarecrow, with all the pieces flapping. 

As I greeted the bus drivers all they could say ask was “estas bien???”  Are you ok?  I think maybe they were more shocked then I was, that I was actually standing and walking around and not laying on the roadway.  I told them I had to go check “mi moto”.  They followed as I picked up my stuff from the shoulder on my way back to the bike, probably 150 yards down the road. 

When I got to the bike, it was laying on its left side on the gravel shoulder.  I started to pick it up, but it was too much and someone from a vehicle that had stopped came over and helped.  We got it stood up and I was surprised at how little damage there was.  Sure, the crash bar on the left side was broke, there were some cosmetic blemishes, but the bike looked very rideable. 

So I tried to crank it, and it didn’t do anything.  Chuck reminded me later that I probably had the kickstand down with it in gear and it won’t start like that.  Eventually I kicked it down to neutral and it started right up.  More people stopped and asked “estas bien?”  “Si, si … bien!”

The bus drivers turned the bus around and came back to where I was.  I also noticed at this time that not only had my left case come off and was mutilated but my right case was nowhere to be seen.  About then another driver came from be the bus carrying the other case that had apparently ended up on the right side of the road.

At first I thought the bus drivers were just going to say, ciao and go about their business, but eventually they said “policia!” in El Bolson.  I said si, no problema.  I managed to fix the right case back onto the bike, but the left case was missing all the latches that held it on and held it closed.  The bus drivers offered to carry it for me in the bus.  I agreed to follow them.  I got on the bike and just like the bus was gone. 

I finished putting on my gloves as fast as I could and I was off.  About this time, Chuck came from the other direction.  I just waved him back to El Bolson.  We followed the bus into El Bolson, where he stopped at a policia guard house on the side of the road.  Fortunately the police officer there spoke some English.

The bus drivers had already gotten off the bus and to the police officer when I arrived.  There was a lot of discussion before and what seemed like an indication that we would need to go somewhere else to file a report or something.  Then the officer turned to me and asked me if I was ok.  I said, yes, I was ok.  He asked me for my documentation; passport and motorcycle title, for their report?   He asked me what I happened and I told him. 

At no time was there any finger pointing, yelling or accusatory behavior on the part of the police man or the bus drivers.  After all you hear about how the gringo is always at fault, I was very surprised.  Everyone seemed mostly to be earnestly concerned with my health.   Eventually, after all the information was written down, the policeman turned to me and said “what do you want to do?”  I was shocked, what do I want to do, “nothing!”  and that is the way we left it.

The bus drivers had left me my broken case, got back on the bus and left.  Chuck had waited at the bikes to keep an eye out and he did not want to induce a request for ‘suguros’; insurance, which we didn’t have.  I went back to the bikes and we started figuring out how to re-attached the broken case with cords and straps. 

The police officer came back and we asked about a welder for the crash bar.  He said he knew one but could not tell us how to get there.  Then he stopped a passing police truck and asked them to guides us.  They took us to Marcus and Juan who, looked at the bike, then Marcus had us follow him to his shop.  On the way he stopped for some necessary bolts for reassembly. 

Marcus worked on the bike for probably two hours, getting the welds just right, figuring out the bolts needed and eventually getting it back to functional condition.  In the meantime, I adjusted the chain tension and found a small drain screw in the radiator that had loosened and was leaking. 

After all this, I asked Marcus how much and he said “nada!”  I said, no I would not and left him something for his time and effort.  By now it was proabably 3:30p and we needed to be on the road again, this time only to Esquel, about another 80 miles, to find a place to stay.

Esquel (Es quell)
As we went to Esquel, I was reminded just how bad this could have been.  While we were El Bolson finding Marcus, we were passed by three touring bikes, I believe they are something like Vasqerous or such.  They beeped and waved.  As we drove to Esquel, we passed one of these bikes that had obviously hit something very hard.  The front end and wheel were completely collapsed, there was a helmet on the road, but rider of the bike and the other two riders were nowhere in sight.  That outcome had to be much worse than mine.

Here are a couple pictures I have taken after the fact of the damage and repair work done on the bike.  
Crash bar welded below the bag by Marcus.
Strapped on Luggage bag that will due until I get a new one.
Fortunately my stupidity is all something that can be taken care off by that little green thing under the gas tanks in the second picture ... my wallet. 

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