November 04, 2006 GMT
Part V - Letters From The Road

We have just pulled off this dark desert highway and have arrived upon a place that the engineering gurus who built these bikes must have dreamt about - Mexicoīs Baja Peninsula. A place that even I have dreamt about since listening to Chris Isaakīs classic Baja Sessions. We have arrived upon a quaint little town and are staying at none other than the legendary Hotel California in Todos Santos. I could not think of a better place but here to write this our most perilous chapter yet

It happened about five days ago. We were winding our way through a very curvaceous section of highway in the coastal Mexican mountains. It was a riderīs endless section of sharp corners without a single straight stretch to be had for miles. At times my dad will need to pull over to take care of whatever business need be. When I donīt see his headlight behind me, I typically slow down until I come to a hault. I will wait for a minute and if he still doesnīt come, I turn around and make the frightening trip back towards him, always with a pit in my stomach for fearing the worst that could happen. On this day, our worst nightmare came true.

He was not to be seen so I rode back about a kilometre and came to the spot. There were about six policemen staring at me intensely. The first thing I saw was my dadīs rear suitcase. It was completely obliterated. I then noticed smashed plastic and tools strewn all over the pavement. A policeman was holding his mangled bike upright. In behind this man, I caught my first glimpse of him. There he was, lying on the side of the road with blood running down both arms and obviously in pain. I frantically took off my helmet and ran over to him on the verge of losing all sanity.

Apparently, my dad was coming out of a sharp, uphill left-hander...a riderīs most vulnerable position to on-coming traffic. All of a sudden a white Volkswagen Bug came barreling towards him far too fast for its own good. Half of the car veered into his lane and smashed into him with his side pannier taking the brunt of the force. Instantly, my dad slammed down to the asphalt while he and bike slid about 20 feet across the pavement and ending up in the ditch. The driver of the Volkswagen didnīt even stop leaving my dad lying there in agony. I asked him if he had broken any bones and he wasnīt sure. He slowly stood up and was able to move all of his limbs. Other than being obviously shaken up with a severe case of road rash, he was doing well considering he was just hit by a car. The bike looked done but upon closer inspection, the only things broken were his blinkers and a clutch clamp.

The policemen just happened to be a minute or so behind him when the accident happened. I asked them what we could do but they just shrugged their shoulders. We were in the middle of nowhere. They told me that the nearest town was Maruata, about 30 kms. away. We were in need of a hospital, a truck and a mechanic, badly.

I hopped on my bike and headed into Maruata and lo and behold the first thing I came across was about five guys standing around a pickup doing nothing. I explained to them what happened and asked if they could help and they seemed rather excited about the mission. I grabbed a couple planks and bought some rope and we were off. We drove back through those now dreaded mountains and loaded up the bike and my dad into the truck. The nearest town that had a mechanic was about 60 kms from there but unfortunately, he was not in. We would have to drive another 60 kms to the next biggest center, Tecoman. It was the worst ride ever being out there by myself and knowing my dad was sitting in that truck with open wounds and obviously in pain.

The boys of Maruata went beyond the call of duty in saving our sorry asses on that day. My dad said they all seemed so happy, laughing and joking the whole way with one another. They drove over 200 kms in total and dropped us off at this greasy little mechanicīs abode. He was like the Yoda of the Motorcycle World. I knew we were in good hands. We tipped the boys very well and they really seemed to be happy about that. While Yoda did his magic on the bike, my dad and I cabbed to the emergency ward at the hospital. The nurses cleaned the gravel and asphalt out of his arms and got him some painkillers. For whatever reason, they didnīt even charge us anything. By that time, Yoda had the bike back in action. We loaded up and ventured into Tecoman in search of a much needed hotel.

It was nothing short of a miracle. Four hours prior my dad lay in a ditch after getting smoked by a speeding car and now he was behind me riding again. My dad is a road warrior. Why this trip isnīt over is beyond me.

Itīs difficult for me to see him in so much pain as we continue our journey. I hear him struggle to get out of bed in the morning. I see him wince every time he puts on his helmet. Ironically enough, his riding position actually is the one thing that does not give him any discomfort. Itīs anytime when he pulls our lifts something that he has a severe sharp pain underneath his shoulder blade. Despite this, he persists on riding. īLetīs Ride!ī, he exclaims.

The very next day we headed towards Mazatlan. Within an hour he was pulled over again. Flat tire. He pulled out his lilī repair kit and we McGyvered it up real good and we were back in action, again. This has been an adventure by every sense of the word. It has certainly been a lot more difficult than the 1998 ride we ventured on with Clive Jackson to the Arctic Circle. My brotherīs bike had been as far south as possible and we wanted to take it as far north as possible. We also ventured to Chile, SA in 2000 where we visited some of his favorites - La Serena, Pucon and Vina Del Mar. Other than me getting the flat tire on that trip, it was fairly smooth sailing...not like this one!

As we tackle the last 1000 kms of Baja, the most dangerous country of them all remains looming - The United States of America.


Posted by Ryan Martin at November 04, 2006 10:08 PM GMT

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