April 2009 12
I’ll be back in Baja in 3 days – this time by sea. . . . .
In the morning I was painfully sore all over. My joints were stiff and bloody. In the mirror I was like a leopard, with black and blue spots covering my body from head to toe. My knee was huge.
I only got 3 hours of sleep, but had to get to work.
I worked a while in town with short fits of narcolepsy, then got back on the bike and kept on going.
I stayed in Guerro Negro for two nights. Lack of energy and pain in my joints had caught up with me. I relaxed at the taco stands and slept late.
The bike and I had faired similarly during this ride, and neither of us wanted to venture too far off-road for the remainder of the trek north.
I psyched myself up – Gave my face a series of slaps, ripped off my shirt in a very animalistic fashion, and let out a giant bellow. At this moment there was no pain, no thirst, no desert – just me, the bike, and the hill.
I screamed manically as I put one hand on the bars and one on the rear grab rail. My face flush and every muscle poised. I yelled out a countdown from five to one. On one my mind tunneled to only the task at hand. Everything else was ancillary and meaningless. I had no focus except getting out. The sand slipped below me, the front wheel dug in. The rear of the bike lifted off the ground and I carried that damn Honda pressed to my chest foot by foot up the entire slope – screaming psychotic the whole way. I had never focused more.
…. The sun had now set and it was nearly dark. My body wanted nothing more than to pull out the sleeping bag and fall asleep. I had lost my sleeping pad off the back of the bike at some point in the river beds, and it was gone for good.
If I know anything about the desert, it’s to move at night. The sun will kill you.
I rested a bit and decided to give an attempt at the hill.
I pushed, and flailed, and fell and failed. The bike moved nowhere. I took in enormous breathes.
I pulled out the green water.
Glared at it long and hard.
And put it back down.
. . . . The fear building was now palatable. I had to get the fuck out of here.
My mouth was so dry it felt crunchy. My throat was dry. My stomach was dry. I knew I was quickly approaching a dangerous level of dehydration.
I dropped the bike and climbed up the hill on all fours to where I left my saddlebags. I fished out my empty water bottle. Down the hill up against a rock cliff there was a small pool which was the only remains of the dried up river. The water had been stagnant and evaporating for years and certainly drove the local inhabitants out of the area. A rudimentary plumbing pipe ran down from the shack to the water, but it stopped far short of where the water now lied.
The edge was surrounded by donkey patties.
I knelled down and dipped in my bottle. The water was green and surely teaming with bacteria.
I had a powerful debate with myself on the walk back to the bike. It seemed to smell ok. I’d never been so thirsty in all my life. It felt like my bones would soon turn to dust.
I took in a gulp and swished it around my mouth. Tasted fair. I spit it out. I repeated this several times. Each time I wanted so badly to guzzle the whole bottle.
I packed it away and laid down looking back at the hill. There was no way I’d get back up. Too steep, too loose, too tired.. . . . . I yelled out for help – “HOLA?”, “ALQUIEN?”, “AYUDA?” Nothing but echoes off the rocks. I repeated this for quite a while.
….. I was back in motion. I tried riding with my left leg hanging off the side of the bike, but the ground was too rough so I just had to deal with the pain of bending my knee and keeping my foot on the peg. I kept it slow. Mouth of flour, arms like noodles, tired and weary, but making progress.
Another hour later of winding all over the sun began to set. I passed a couple abandoned shacks and wished I would see someone so I could ask where to go. I eventually came to a T in the road, I chose to go east and head back out towards the highway. However, the road did not go east. The road wound up and down zig zagging back and forth. It was rutted and sandy. I crossed dried up river beds endlessly. In many places the trail split in several directions to maneuver around obstacles. This was difficult riding in any physical condition.
….. I rolled around for a while and went through the normal physical inspection checklist for a crash (I crash a lot).
Once the pain subsided enough to move around I got to my feet and limped over to look at the rock.
…… I rode on panting wildly due to a combination of exhaustion, thirst, and difficult terrain. What I wouldn’t give for a nice cold glass of water and a sandwich.
After another hour or so the road started to smooth out a bit and I picked up the pace.
While humming along in 4th gear my front end suddenly took a bad bounce off a rock and I rocketed towards the shoulder. My front end collided with a large rock – the bike immediately flipped and I was catapulted over the bars, violently tumbling end over end into the rocks along the edge of the road. It all happened in slow motion. Everything went black for a moment, then my vision came back blurred, just in time to feel the bike land on top of me.
…. I sat in the dirt a few to catch my breath and regain composure. I had to push the bike up the hill or I’d be stuck. So up hill I went. The bike was heavy and the ground was soft. I heaved and pushed and strained and grunted. Foot by foot I forced the bike upwards. Another half hour and I laid in the dirt shielding my face from the sun to catch my breath. I was near the top of the hill.
When the countdown hit one I used every bit of strength I had to push the bike down through the rocks. At top speed I jumped on and dumped the clutch. The rear end hopped around and the bike sputtered and dragged to a halt. I knew I was close. There was space for one more good run before I’d have to go back up. My body was exhausted, my mouth was dry, and it was hot.
. . . . the road began to get rough and it was a lot of work to manhandle the bike. The road deteriorated more and more, progress in second gear was slow. After 20 tedious miles I was getting tired and knew I had made a mistake somewhere, but had no idea where.
Another 10 miles of winding first gear mountain roads and I began to become concerned that the road would not improve and might dead-end. I stopped several times to consult my map but it did not reveal any paths I may possibly be on. Soon the road really turned to hell, was very steep, loose, and rocky and winding all over the place. Not knowing where I was I decided to backtrack to the last fork and hope it would be a bit smoother. Back through the mountain passes I was breathing heavy and beginning to be upset – I wanted to get to San Juanico and it was still a long long ways.