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Desert Rider

- fact? or fiction? - You decide

by anonymous...

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A long time ago, and far away, I was riding alone through a wilderness the like of which I had never seen before. The wind seemed to almost scream and the noise - it was like an animal in great pain.

All around me was nothing but desert and the deeper I travelled into it, the more uncomfortable I became. I felt an urge to stop and take a close inspection of the desolation around me - the oddly shaped rocks, the twirling dust devils, the dunes that had such peculiar shapes. But I pressed on and I tried to concentrate only on the road ahead. I looked at the odometer on my machine and once again calculated the distance I would make with the fuel I carried.

This time I knew that I was cutting it too fine. I had 600 km's left on the ride and my calculations gave me a range of 610 km's. But I could not have taken on board any more fuel without overloading the machine. The rear suspension was already too low and not handling the rough surface very well, sometimes bottoming-out.

I felt the wind increase but on looking at the odometer, I saw that my speed had crept to 100kms per hour. I tried to slow down but as soon as my eyes went back to the road, my right hand would act on its own and gradually wind open the throttle. Eventually, I surrendered to my subconscious action and enjoyed the coolness of the wind. I was soon travelling in excess of 120kms per hour.

The engine suddenly kicked and then backfired. The fuel tank had emptied and I had to reach down and switch to reserve before pulling in to the side of the road to top off the tank from one of my reserve 'Jerry-cans'.

This was bad. I looked at the odometer. My calculations had been upset by my increased speed. My fuel consumption had increased by 20% and I realised that I could not now make it to the next fuel stop.

I sat down and attempted fresh calculations but they would not give me the answer I needed. I looked at the road ahead. There was no traffic and I knew there could be no traffic for days maybe weeks for this road had long ago been made obsolete by a new highway that made this route the long way around to a place that few would bother going to anyway - except the military, who had a garrison and training area in the region. And this was a place that no civilian would dare approach without immediate arrest and then god only knows what else.

It was late afternoon. It would be dark in two hours. Even if I rode the rest of the way at 20kms per hour, I would still be left with twenty kilometres to walk, In an area that had been plagued with terrorist groups and bandits for two generations. Even honest locals would stone a foreigner to death at the smallest opportunity.

I continued on my way, all the time trying to think of a way out of my predicament but could do little more than curse my stupidity, at times shouting it out aloud, "You fool, you bloody fool"!

 

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I thought about riding off into the desert and stashing the bike before walking to the village where I may buy fuel. I would have to travel at night though and even then I might easily be spotted by a sharp eyed local out looking for one of his straying animals.

The dusk drew in and I would normally have stopped for camp and a good sleep, but not here, not in this place of dark shapes and crying wind. Instead, I once again increased my speed to get even more of this terror behind me and I squinted into the horizon hoping to catch sight of the snow-capped peaks that would mark the beginning of the end of this awful place. But I knew they were one whole day away.

I was flying now. My machine sometimes lifted clear of the ground at a good lump in the road. I ran into small rocks, the front wheel skipping away at the impact, but I began not to care at the prospect of an accident adding to my problems - after all, didn't I deserve to suffer for my stupidity and what did anything matter now? - now that I would soon be bait for the vultures - or worse -a plaything for the locals to torture.

But what was that?! - up ahead in the dimming light. I was approaching it fast. Too fast, my god, my speed was 160kms per hour now!

I slowed quickly without looking again at the road ahead and the object lying in it. I stopped and dismounted and pulling my binoculars from their case, peered ahead. My god! - it was a motorcycle! - lying on its side close to the road's edge. But where was the rider or riders? There was no sign.

I looked around into the desert. I saw nothing. I sat down and concentrated for the slightest movement, the dimmest flash of steel. Nothing! I could not go back. I had only one way - and it was forward. I would not under any circumstances return into the darkness of that that I had already passed through with dread.

So I approached the fallen machine all the while looking keenly around me for the slightest movement that might betray a man laying in ambush. I knew I would have the surprise if I had the luck to pr-empt any such attack and I would be able to speed away, weaving from side to side in order to avoid the bullets that fly after me like furious wasps. My imagination was working overtime for I had heard all the terror that these desert people will wreak upon an unsuspecting foreigner.

The stoning, the slow cutting, the burning, the women and their howling for blood.

I came up alongside the machine. It had been crashed and had suffered some considerable damage to its left side. The engine casing was smashed. The exhaust was torn apart. Oil lay spattered over the road's surface - but no sign of blood. No sign of injury, no shed clothing, no first aid kit, no personal possessions - nothing.

 

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The rising heat of the late afternoon started me sweating and I lifted off my heavy leather jacket and helmet and lay them both on the san at the side of the road and then began to look around for the owners of the fallen machine.

My heart skipped as I saw the blood. It had congealed and soaked into the sand, the flies enjoying an unexpected feast.

I came closer and studied the black patch that spread over two square metres. It was a lot of blood.

Footprints led away from the bloody stain and off into the desert and following the footprints were a succession of blood droplets, sometimes the drops formed a trail, but then formed themselves into drops again and I realised what had occurred in this place.

The rider of the machine had been forced into a crash through some form of trap. He had, In other words, been waylaid.

His attackers then dragged him from the wreckage some metres into the desert before putting him to the knife and it was there, above that blood stain in the sand that the rider had died, before being carried off into the desert proper, and probably concealed beneath the shifting sand.

There had been only one rider of the machine for the pillion position had been occupied by luggage and the rear footrests had been removed.

I was now almost numb with fear and the darkness was drawing down quickly. I walked back to the fallen machine and inspected it before lifting from the ground and placing it back on its centerstand. As I did so, I heard the unmistakable sloshing of fuel in the gasoline tank. I quickly removed the cap. The tank was three-quarters full even though the right-hand side had been badly dented and scraped.

I moved with the speed of a lion, quickly fetching a piece of hose and a 'jerry-can' and immediately siphoning the crashed machine's tank. It held almost fourteen litres - more than enough for me to successfully complete my journey.

I quickly topped-off my own tank, the remainder staying in the 'jerry-can' and I very carefully strapped the can into its holder - it was my life' reserve!

Without further delay, I continued on my journey and made my fuel stop by the afternoon of the following day. I had ridden all night.

 

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I reported the crashed motorcycle to the authorities only after I had left this particular country and although you will call me a coward and perhaps a thief, you must understand that, had I made a thorough search of the area around the crashed machine for the rider, who you say, may have been hiding out of fear, let me assure you that the only footprints that led away from the machine were the ones I saw, and the footprints I saw leading away from the blood-stained sand, were deep and stumbling and were of at least four people.

I heard nothing from the authorities of that particular country about that particular incident despite my providing them with an accurate position of the site of the incident and I provided them with my full home address.

Who the rider was I will never know. I am even today unsure of his - or her- nationality as the machine bore a registration I did not recognise. No personal possessions remained either on the machine or in the immediate area for me to inspect.

What remains to be said?

This was all a very long time ago in a place far, far away. I am old now but I still remember that day and that terrible place and that fallen motorcycle that lay on an empty road, shining in the dwindling light of a dusk that I believed, would be my last, so now, as I enjoy the opening days of the third millennium, I will here, for the first time tell anyone who cares to listen, of my actions on that day - the memory of which still blights my sleep with a re-enactment that is forever played out to the accompaniment of that ghastly crying wind.

Anon

Story copyright IMC(International Motorcycle Club), specifically Neil Rogers.

Fact or fiction unknown - but it's a good tale!

 

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

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