Spontaneous Crash Giggles

The pools are open. When will that toenail fall off?

It’s never a case of if but when, and if you ride long enough, far enough and hard enough it’s inevitable that at some point it will happen. No matter how hard you try to mitigate the circumstances or how much you try to protect yourself from the consequences, sooner or later you’ll crash. I was roughly 10,000 miles into my adventure, crossed fourteen countries and had more than half a dozen punctures when I had my crash. No just any crash but a high side.

Day 1: my elbow, yes that’s my elbow, not my knee, a few hours after the crash.

It was a miserable wet day as I rolled into Irkutsk, much like it was when I left this place over a week ago when I headed down into Mongolia. I had become accustomed to the terrible condition of the Russian roads, and this stretch of Irkutsk was no different. Only a mile from my hostel I crossed the bridge and successfully negotiated the myriad of tram tracks that weaved their way through the city. On this particular section of road the triple set of wet tram tracks were bordered by wide and deep holes. As I rounded the corner, my lane suddenly, and without warning, ended, and the traffic was expected to merge with the adjoining lane.

Day 2: most of the swelling subsided, thank you ibuprofen, just a dirty looking bruise.

As I approached the tracks I had already slowed down considerably and traversed the first set of tracks without difficulty but as my rear tyre crossed this ribbon of wet steel I felt the rear of the bike squirm like a snake. My arse puckered, but I managed to recover enough to keep the bike two wheels down, but the next set of tracks was a different story. Already travelling sideways the bike lost traction completely on the second set of tracks and the canyon sized pothole didn’t help. When the bike finally found its grip the resultant bite flipped the bike and threw me over the bars.

Mashed Twalcom auxiliary spot light… but it still works. Nothing a vice and a hammer can’t fix.

Flying through the air, time seemed to slow, and I had a fleeting flash of the bike behind me momentarily become airborne, until suddenly normal time was restored just as if someone had hit lifes play button. Next thing I know I’m making unwelcome contact with the ground, landing head first, I hear the thud of the helmet and the clank of the bike hitting the deck at the same time. I immediately pull myself up onto all fours and fleetingly took stock of the situation, my body on full alert for any pain that might indicate a potentially serious injury. No pain was forthcoming, but I certainly had the wind knocked out of me, so I briefly rolled over onto my back to pause for a long hard breath of air when I saw silver stars swimming gayly in my field of vision. I sat up onto my knees and felt two guys, one under each arm, about to heave me to my feet… “Nyet, Nyet, Nyet, leave me a minute”, I proclaimed, I still needed to get my breath. I started to remove my helmet just as the fireworks in my head slowly began to fade and the guys heaved the bike right side up.

It took me a while to notice this, but you can just see that the right pannier is lower, you can tell by looking at the gap above the indicator and the horizontal support brace of the pannier frame.

I slowly got to my feet just as the bike was being put on the side stand. Shit the bike, I thought, I went straight over and had a cursory glance. It looked fine, not a single thing bent out of shape. I must still have had some mental fog because I completely didn’t see the mashed auxiliary spot light for another 5 minutes. I pushed the bike to the side of the road just as the adrenalin was wearing off and I suddenly felt the throbbing in my right toe. It felt wet inside my boot, but having injured my toe previously I recognised the feeling as the toe swelling and bruising. Next, I felt some pain in my elbow and some discomfort just above my left knee, but luckily nothing felt broken. As I started to take full stock of the situation I spontaneously began to giggle, appreciating how lucky I was not to be more seriously hurt and that the bike was so relatively undamaged. I can’t explain the feeling, perhaps elation is as close an approximation as I can make but it honestly felt like I had achieved some kind of victory, but over who or what I didn’t know.


4 thoughts on “Spontaneous Crash Giggles

  1. Wow Steve, I guess you were very lucky not to sustain a more serious injury.
    Let’s just hope it’s your first and last crash considering you are on your own
    out there.
    I follow you each day and marvell at your progress so far.
    I think you deserve a hero’s welcome when you finally arrive home, but it’s a
    Long way off yet.
    Just keep safe and well, we all send our love & fondest regards.
    Ride on cowboy, Tonythefish. X

    1. Thanks Tony. I’m okay, think i cracked a rib and aggravated it yesterday cos it was painful last night. Yeah, still lots more miles to cover. Probably 3-4 more weeks. Looking forward to getting home though. I put the bike on the train yesterday from Irkutsk to Moscow… not because of the crash, I was gonna do it anyway. I’m getting the TranSiberian train 2mora night, really looking forward to the journey and a few days in Moscow before meandering my way through the Baltics back to old blighty. Heard a lot about the train from other travellers I’ve met. Say hello to everyone. X

  2. Stay safe Steve and enjoy the relaxation of the train ride.. As the other Tony said we have been amazed by your journey and your splendid blogs. Great reading.. Judge Tony

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