Joined: Sep 2009
Vingerclip to Etosha
Today started off like any other riding day. Tim and I got up early, assembled our gear, and scrambled to grab some grub in the restaurant. We had a big day ahead of us...493 km of gravel and asphalt roads to reach Etosha National Park.
We we all stoked as this park promises to deliver sightings of the big 5 game.
We decided to split into two groups this morning, with one group blasting along gravel roads while the other group tore ass on paved roads. Adam, Tim and I decided to lead the gravel pack and set off for a very memorable ride. The roads were very windy, dusty, and covered in loose gravel. Adam led the way, followed by Tim. The dust was so thick that I decided to back off a good 1/2 mile from Tim in order to see the road. With a good dust gap established, I was thoroughly enjoying the ride. The air was still relatively cool and the scenery looked eerily similar to Monument Valley in northern Arizona and southern Utah.
After about an hour into the ride, I came up on a slight hill and noticed a sign saying sharp left corner. I crested the hill, stayed to the inside of the corner, and powered through it. I was probably doing about 50 to 60 mph. (I had no idea that Tim had gone wide and had crashed on the outside of this very corner. He was lying unconscious in the ditch when I rounded the corner. ) About 200 yards down the road, the gravel road came to an end at a T intersection. I pulled up along side Adam and shut off my engine.
"Dude, where the hell is Tim?" I asked.
"Isn't he behind you?" said Adam.
"No...he was behind you and in front of me!" I said.
Just then, it hit us. Tim had crashed. As if on cue, another rider came barreling down the road screaming like a little girl. "Guys...Guys!!! Tim crashed just up the road!! Tim is down!!"
Adam and I jumped on our bikes and rode back up the hill. Scotty was the first to arrive at Tim. We parked our bikes, and raced down off the road, past Tim's battered bike, and straight into an acacia thorn bush. Tim had flown a good 10 feet from his bike and impaled himself in a thorn bush. At first sight, we all thought Tim was dead. He wasn't moving, and he was pale white. The three of us stabilized Tim while trying to get his helmet off to check his breathing. Just then, he came to and started moaning, kicking, and grunting. Thank God he was okay. We tried our best to keep him from moving, but Tim is a big dude and he kept thrashing and trying to stand despite all of our efforts.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed another 1200 GS come crashing through the bush just feet from where we stood trying to help Tim. It was Stan. He too came over the crest of the hill, saw all of the commotion, and went off the road trying to avoid everybody. Fortunately, he just stood up on the pegs and blasted through the bush somehow managing to keep the bike upright. We then sent another rider to the top of the hill to warn all oncoming traffic. We also gave him a satellite phone out of Tim's backpack to call John, our medic, who was only 30 minutes away.
Tim was finally starting to mumble. We got his helmet off and he was moaning in pain. "My fucking back... it hurts!! I want to stand!!!" He would not stay down. Four of us decided to support him, and carry him up out of the ditch up onto the opposite side of the road. Charley arrived and tried to make light of the situation, but we all new that it could be serious.
It took five of us to get his battered bike out of the ditch.
To our surprise, it wasn't that damaged. The engine run switch was smashed, and the bike would not start. The windscreen was bent, the foglight ripped off, the bash guards bent, and the plastic was scraped.
John arrived shortly thereafter in the Land Rover. John is the owner of Motoaventures, and is one hell of a calm guy in stressful situations. Being a paramedic for years, he took control of the situation and stabilized Tim. He loaded him into the back of the rover. Five of us picked up his bike and loaded it onto the trailer attached to the Rover. They then took off for a Namibian hospital which was only 30 to 40 km away. Tim was fortunate to crash so close to medical support.
With Tim on his way to the hospital, there was nothing else the remaining guys could do. We got our shit together, and rode off towards Etosha. The riding style had changed for the remainder of the day's ride, with each person riding slightly more cautiously. The rest of the day's ride was sort of a blur to me. I was thinking about Tim, and how fragile life can be. Here we are blasting along dirt roads in the middle of Namibia on 600 pound bikes thinking we are indestructable in our riding gear, boots, and helmets. It was a harsh reality check for everyone.
It wasn't until we came across our first wild giraffes that I was able to put the crash behind me.
It was so amazing to just see wild giraffes walking down the road. We all stayed there for awhile appreciating the fact that we were riding in Africa. So far, we had seen wild elephants and wild giraffes. What a great feeling to be riding among such incredible animals.
We got to our lodge that evening, and word had spread that Tim was going to stay the night in a Namibian hospital.
Apparently, he fractured 4 to 6 vertebrae, had a major concussion, and had bruised his back pretty badly.
Su was going to stay with him. Su was driving the other support vehicle with everyone's bags.
We went out on our first safari that evening. This was my third safari, but it was so incredible. I would have posted some great photos, but my telephoto lens was on the support vehicle. (Thanks Tim!!)
It was weird not having my roomie with me that evening. We all had a nice dinner, and then sat outside by the campfire for hours just talking about the day's events. I called Tim and it was great to hear his voice. He said that he was going to try and ride his bike again in a few days. I laughed but realized he was serious. He was not going to go home. (Don't worry....the only riding he did for the remainder of the trip was in the Rover!!) What a day!
A single adventure can change the course of a life...