DATE: 17 November 2005
CURRENT LOCATION: Khartoum, Sudan - at my dearest friend Karen's place!!
GPS COORDINATES: N 15 degrees 34.740'' / E 32 degrees 32.280'
Alive and well, but as the score sits, it's Sudan: 3, Lach: 0.
After dragging my ass across the roads of stones and tracks of deep sands of northern Sudan's deserts, held captive to Nubian hospitality, weaving through the potted highway to Khartoum, and arriving with a bent bike and a ragged hand I'm going to have to make a dramatic change to my original travel plans.
I had a small crash about 300km from Khartoum, which I was entirely responsible for. A very silly fall. After a week of the toughest riding I've ever experienced (ok, ok - I haven't experienced a lot let's say, some of the toughest riding in Africa..?), I finally reached paved road on the last stretch to Khartoum. It was early afternoon and I thought now that I'm on pavement, I should probably take a quick break, eat my apples and banana to keep my energy and focus up - be responsible riding and not be hard on myself. Big mistake. Pulled over to the side of the road, but misread the rough shoulder as hard when in fact it was asphalt gravel. At about 30km/h it caught me completely by surprise, grabbed my front wheel and dragged me right down. At first, I didn't realize I was plummeting sideways to the earth. Instead, the ground just came swooping up and went instantly from horizontal to vertical - very peculiar for my brain to process that quickly. The sliding along the ground quickly made me realize what was happening. And the shredding of the palm of my right hand. Yes, really could have used those gloves I lost earlier in the trip. Note: always bring two pairs of gloves.
So there I was, on a road in the middle of the desert, stuck under a fallen bike, which was still running and spilling gasoline everywhere, and bleeding.
Turn off bike.
Look at hand - not structural, mainly just a lot of hanging shredded skin and surface blood.
Wriggle pinned right foot out from under my side pannier without snapping it. This was actually quite difficult as I later found out my bike fully loaded probably weights 250kgs. Unload all the gear.
Get bike up.
Get everything properly off the road.
Roadside first aid and wrap the hand up.
Check the bike out. The wheel is bent out of alignment with the handlebars - when the wheel is straight the handlebars are off by about 20 degrees The headstand is also bent back and sideways and I have to manhandle some bits so they don't block the steering.
Test ride the bike for a minute, seems like nothing is going to fall off and it rides straight. Seems I don't have to set a match to poor Mario.
Eat my apples and bananas.
Ride 300km to Khartoum.
Thank god for my wonderful friend Karen in Khartoum!!! And her wonderful friends!!! I arrived later that night with 1 litre of gas, filthy, and sore. Luckily, there's a farewell party on at the UN Mission (where Karen works, striving to save further generations of humanity from the scourge of war - it's a good line of work these days, you'll never be out of business) with a BBQ and RUM!!
The bike is not in shape for some further rough road ahead en route to Ethiopia. I'm behind schedule and am due to see Mandy in Tanzania next week (yay!) for her birthday and a bit of a holiday. Have scraped a third of the palm off my right hand. And maybe, just maybe I'm not entirely up to the challenge of some of the road ahead. Fixing and shipping the bike forward will cost an arm and a leg. I nearly decided to just ship the bike straight home to London, buuuuut when the HELL am I ever going to get a chance to motorcycle around Africa again?!
After much contemplation and incredible bureaucracy, I've managed to arrange to ship the bike straight on to Johannesburg. After Tanzania I'll have 4 weeks and I'll do a loop through southern Africa to get to Cape Town for Xmas, what was my previous goal.
I have to thank Karen! for her incredible hospitality (not to mention satellite TV, real food, RUM!, laundry, RUM!, and air conditioning), and Fish! for his help in getting me around to get the bike shipped and my hand properly looked at.
I've also mercilessly missed my Great Aunty March's birthday again =( This amazing woman (the Matriarch of the Fergusson-Brown clan and virtually my grandmother!) has seen it all and is a great inspiration to me. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUNTY MARCH!!!
I'm extremely sad that my great plan has fallen apart. One stupid, silly fall and I've ruined it. I'm missing out on incredible riding and wonders in Ethiopia, the plains and jungles and cultures of central/east Africa. Boo.
But. But!! Getting to Khartoum is pretty amazing. Some bit of me was skeptical that I'd even get this far. Part of the purpose of my trip was to ride to the middles of nowhere; see places I'd never get to see again, but get there by my own means. Khartoum was one of my middles of nowhere - I'm not lying when I say I had tears in my eyes as I crossed over the Nile, past the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, into Khartoum. I was really there, and I really rode all the way there myself.
It's a shame I'm not going to have a chance to ride out of it.