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Offline BlueBull2007

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Solo Jungle Diving
« on: July 22, 2018, 08:24:12 am »
Sorry no pics, so I will tell you a story and show you some maps instead.

For those of you who don't know, I live in Honduras in Central America. It's in the squiggly bit between North and South America, near Panama, that no-one pays any attention to.

Here is a map showing all the little bits in and around the Caribbean. Look at all those countries. If you really want you can use this impress others with your knowledge at your next braai.


Here is another map of Honduras; I live near the CA5 to the left of the "H" for Honduras. As you can see the country is quite mountainous. Who would have thought?



Anyway the riding in Honduras is good. Very good. Some pretty amazing tar twisties, lots of dirt roads, and -if you like- plenty of jeep tracks, or single-track mule routes which can be gnarly, squirrelly, steep, overgrown, muddy, nobbly, and sometimes smooth jungle pathways. In the two rainy seasons these single tracks become that much more challenging.

For various reasons I end up doing more solo trips. I also go out with some guys at the mine at times, but these two boys are way beyond my league having both been multiple national enduro champions. I get to see my ass every time I go with them.  My weapon of choice this time round is a 2018 KTM 350 EXC. A very nice, light, capable bike, albeit quite a beast even when compared to the heavier, rally-modified 450's I have been used to.  The power to weight ratio of these newer bikes are phenomenal.


So far I have been limiting my exploration to day trips from my house and getting to find my own gnarly stuff so I can get fitter and better to be able ride more with the "hard men". Yonger, fitter, faster right? Instead of being what I should be: Older, slower, and wiser....

Anyway, this Tuesday past I had the day off and mixed up my solo trip with some muddy dirt roads, and then some steep jeep track climbs which narrowed into horse trails up the Santa Barabara mountain range.

To give you a sense of scale here in the pic below, you can see the nearest town (Las Vegas) which is at an elevation of around 900m above sea level, and the peaks top out at 2,380m. So high and cool.



Seen in the middle of the image above is roughly rectangular dark-green patch of untouched jungle above Las Vegas.
Yeah, Las Vegas.

I was riding a track along the top of that green patch. It wasn't a bad dirt road really, but then I turned left and aimed up a gorge striking up the mountain for the gap between the two peaks. After about a kilometer, the single track was cut away by the river, but a steep, rocky mule track continues along the edge and straight up the mountain. I bounced up the rocky route which obviously became steeper with some tight switchbacks in places, and also crossed the stream a few times as well.

I thought I did pretty well, and got perhaps half way between the green rectangle and then neck between the two peaks. By this stage the step ups were becoming pretty significant and large, slippery rocks made it to much for me on my own. So I had a little rest before cruising back down the way I had come. I was already a little tired having completed a number of other routes and hill climbs earlier and it was getting close to about 4 pm. Besides it starts to rain at about five or six pretty much everyday.

One of the stream crossings on the way down happened to be right above a small cascade, the water flowing down left to right in front of me. After the muddy crossing, the mule track curved sharply up to the right, forming a mild relief from the steep downhill route so far. The mule track nevertheless climbed only very briefly before leveling off, contouring above the cascade, and at this point it was also quite narrow.

I did not think it to be particularly difficult although the stream crossing did for a bit of a where the water was. Second gear through the stream, then gun it a bit coming out, cutting to the right. Easy peasy.  I was relaxed, maybe too relaxed gunning the rear wheel through the dip perhaps a tad to hard. This whipped the bike around more the right than I liked as I went through it. No biggie really, except I was already leaning the whole bike over to the right in anticipation of the right hand the corner, so no I had over compensated. There was no place or moment to put my right foot out and prevent the lean and I was a trifle annoyed that I had let this happen.

Right then at that moment, I new it was all over. Time slowed down as it always seems to in these moments.  We know this is not the case, though. More likely we are simply thinking much faster. A lot of stuff. Our brains and bodies go into overdrive as the horror adrenaline boost kicks in but even so, everything becomes detached and dreamy at the same time.

I found that I had this most beautiful birds-eye view of where I was going to fall. I recall accelerating a bit, trying vainly to keep her upright and shift my weight as much as I could to the left but to no avail. I was going down, now traveling little faster than I would have preferred and I had a front row seat. Hell, I was participant in the game! As the stream was dropping away fast it was a good three to five vertical meters down depending on where I would ultimately land. A mossy, boulder strewn cascade, filled with ferns, and menacing, sharp edges of eroded limestone poking out between the foliage and spray. Oh SHIT!

As I say, it was happening really fast but I still had time to yell "OH SHIT" and increase my leftward lunge a little it more, away from the horror unfolding on my right. I supposed. I figured at worst I would go vertically up and land perhaps either on my upside down bike or somewhere on the near slope now directly beneath me. Initially my plan seemed to be working. I could feel the bike flip down under me as I jumped but the something on the bike hooked on my right boot and ripped me back over. It pulled really hard, like an unseen hand lifting me up, and flicking me to the right.

After that everything went really fast.

Rocks and water zooming towards me, out of focus and with great speed.
I saw moss up close and my head went "RINNNGGG!" and that was that.

At some point, not long after, perhaps only an instant, I felt the cold water rushing over my body, also into my face. Woof. My chest, oh my chest. I could not breathe. I was lying face down, half upside down.

My foot was tangled under the bike behind me somewhere, unsure, definitely dazed and unable to breathe. My brain and the pain in my chest screamed move. Survive. I was going to drown. I bench pressed myself up and jiggled and pulled, and wriggled, and twisted. Somehow, after what seemed like ages I found myself on my elbows and knees in the steep and rocky stream, moaning with each breath as people do when they come off and clobber their chests on something. Each gasp was agony but the fresh air was good.

The bike was upside down in the stream with its wheels in the air just behind me. I climbed up next to it and sat there for a while smelling the strong smell of fuel, trying to catch my breath. Wishing my chest to stop hurting. I knew I needed to turn the bike it over, the fuel was running out, but I also knew one needs to take stock before going crazy after a crash. So I rested and took stock.

I was feeling pretty bad given what I just been through but really I was remarkably unscathed. Apart from what was clearly a concussion and maybe some cracked ribs. I knew they weren't broken because I would not have been able to extricate myself from under my bike if they were broken. Well that is what I told myself.  Thank God for chest protectors folks! And for gloves, and for my knee braces and boots. But mostly for my helmet. I took it off. There was no mark on it. Strange. Maybe I hit my head on a mossy rock, and it might have whacked my goggles strap. Who knows? I felt a bit like vomiting, so knew it was concussion. But I seemed to be thinking rationally, and I did not feel sleepy, so I hoped it would wear off and set about righting the bike. My back hurt but I don't know how that could have happened. And my guts hurt too. I think I landed on them! Serve me right for being such a lard-ass. I considered calling someone for help but instantly dismissed it. Apart from the difficulty of having to explain where I was along with the wait for ages before having helping hands arrived, would rain soon and the stream would become a raging torrent. It just seemed like the easy way out. I had messed up - I needed to get myself out. So I struggled on alone, sucking up the pain in penitence for my stupidity.

Its a plastic so I just pulled it over onto its side. It was another thing getting it up but I managed. I noticed I had broken the entire clutch housing off the bars. It still worked, but was just not attached. Nothing else seemed wrong. Wow, great. Now I would just have to pull the bike up out of the cascade. What a bloody job! A good eight metres up a very steep gully filled with rocks and rushing water. Lovely. I thought of the guys struggling up steep slopes on the Redbull Romaniacs challenge. Something like that but except no slings, no spectators to help and couple of extra difficulties! Like lifting the bike over jolly great, big, ugly, facking boulders. 

It must taken me about an hour, pushing, and pulling and lifting and cursing, in between stumbling and falling around soaking wet in the stream. First the front, then the rear in big steps. With lots of rest stops. A real nightmare when you don't feel like breathing, but it was starting to rain and the rivers in these parts can swell quickly so I just kept at it.

The last bit was the hardest because the damn thing kept sliding back down. Just then a guy came past with two horses loaded with firewood and I begged him to help me. It was getting dark so I was pretty pleased to get this last chance.  He grudgingly did and seemed amazed at the weight of the bike. Okay, we were dragging it up a small waterfall. Man, such a pity no.one was following me with a GoPro camera. the whole event must have been spectacular to watch. 

I took another long pull on my re hydrate, picked the bike up and and pushed it past where I fell off so I could start it on the down slope beyond and not do something stupid again and fall back into the same place. In the end I made it off okay, down the steepest parts of the mountain with my engine off. I took it easy going home too, anyway by that time the rain was driving.

I decided not tell the Mrs. Why let her stress?  She is worried enough when I go out as it is. Nor did I check in with the doc or anything - what could he possibly do? Anyway, I have had a splitting headache which finally ended today despite pain pills. No doubt about it a case of concussion of some sort. Not the first time either! I have been walking round like an old man. Definitely cracked or badly bruised ribs. My kidneys are hurting like hell. Maybe they were bruised as well? Anyway I should be okay in a few more days.

Cannot believe how I got away without more serious injuries. I have faith in God. No doubt about He looked after me this week. Again. But it still made me think about this solo riding thing too. I could have drowned. Or broken my neck. I was not wearing a neck brace. or hit my too hard, helmet or no helmet. Man, it happened so, so quickly.  Will it stop me from solo riding? No. There is a phrase "you ride alone, you die alone," which is true I guess. But as Xpat said in his recent Koakoland report, you die alone anyway, even if you have people standing around your bedside in a cosy hospital.

I love the liberty of a solo ride, as much as I enjoy riding with groups. But groups are.....well they're limiting. Not necessarily in any way technically but sometimes people get tired, or hurt or want to go somewhere else or want to go slow or want to do something harder or easier. While its also cool to be in groups and have a good laugh, there is something equally fun and about riding alone in a country or place you don't know well. Making all the decisions as you go. Stopping when you want to or not stopping when you don't want to. Riding wherever you like. Irresponsible? Yes it is I suppose. To a point. At the same time there is a place where living in fear of what could go wrong is enslavement to no purpose either.

Your life is literally in your own control, and this is where I need to take stock: Maybe take it a bit easier. I felt I was riding quite within my limits in this case; so how would I do that?

I'm not sure. I'm going to have to think about that.
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Offline MoJo JoJo

Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 09:37:16 am »
love reading about your adventures in a far away land.

glad all worked out ok. AMEN

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Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2018, 10:04:49 am »
Glad it turned out OK, but it could have gone pear shaped.  :sip: :thumleft:
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Offline Coxwain

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Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2018, 10:46:06 am »
You should have gone to the doc .....concussions can turn nasty.
Glad you got out ok ...
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Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2018, 05:22:51 pm »
Glad you are ok.
Do we need to slow down? Really?
My father always said he will never be an oxygen thief or a living dead.
We need to accept that we have limitations, but we also need to live!
Heal well and fast. :thumleft:
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Offline Splash

Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2018, 06:35:34 pm »
Well done for getting yourself out of a horrible situation. These things happen.  :)
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Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2018, 06:11:30 am »
Thanks guys.

Coxswain, I thought about the doc but what could he do anyway? We have a hospital at the mine, but we are two hours away from an operating theater I would be comfortable with, by which time...and  besides, if they need to open me up or whatever then there wouldn't be much point at that stage anyway. :dontknow:

Glad you are ok.
Do we need to slow down? Really?
My father always said he will never be an oxygen thief or a living dead.
We need to accept that we have limitations, but we also need to live!
Heal well and fast. :thumleft:

Slow down....I don't think so ;D

But seriously, after watching Graham Jarvis' POV camera in Ertzberg, and then training guys on the basics, I have decided that I need to do more basics and get that right. I'm not one of these Wilddog riding Gods who learnt how to ride at age 4 either. I was and pretty much always have been a weekend warrior who learnt to ride just before he hit middle aged. :P

So Its back to school for me. Lots more home schooling in my case. But first a new clutch housing. ;D
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Offline alwyn_gs

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Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2018, 09:01:44 am »
Your Line was not yet drawn in the sand, or this time a muddy incline somewhere between nowwhere...

If you are more prone doing solo trips, what about a tracking device, like a GSpot or something?

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Offline 0012

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Re: Solo Jungle Diving
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2018, 09:55:11 am »
Wow BB, definitely had the guardian angels flying close by on this one!!!
glad you made it out okay, and the experience and solo ride philosophical debate thereafter, very interesting thoughts to ponder.

to me, this is the essence of it:

There is a phrase "you ride alone, you die alone," which is true I guess. But as Xpat said in his recent Koakoland report, you die alone anyway, even if you have people standing around your bedside in a cosy hospital.


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Offline Osadabwa

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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2018, 07:26:21 am »
Bluebull! How DARE you go out and almost kill yourself and not take a camera with you? What, I have to use my imagination now?  :lol8:

Glad you didn't die. Keep riding solo. Take a camera next time fafaksake.