On approximately June 29, 2013, I watched Neal Baily Rides Peru on Speed Channel. I had recorded all 4 episodes and watched them back to back in a single evening. This show changed the direction of my life, and it was at this point that I decided to purchase a motorcycle, and go on a tour of Peru.
I immediately started planning a trip through Peru, finding one very capable tour company after another. As I began to read through all of the options that I found from all of the tour operators, it became apparent that I needed to organize the information, so that I could do a true apples-to-apples comparison between the tours and the tour companies. I wanted to keep it simple, so I put together all of the information in a Word Document, and continued with the research. Well, the research quickly lead me in a slightly different direction…
Instead of pressing ahead with planning a trip through Peru, I decided to plan a trip through Patagonia. I mean, riding a motorcycle through the Andes mountains, through Tierra del Fuego, across the straights of Magellan, into Torres del Paine, and then on to Ushuaia, the southern-most city on Earth. I thought to myself; What could possibly be better than this? So, with a slight change of plans, I started off in this new direction, and the Patagonia Journey began.
By August 1st, I had completed the training and received my M/C endorsement, purchased a used ’07 BMW R 1200 GSA, and began to develop my skills, trying to ensure that I stayed safe, while also getting the feel for moving a big bike through the turns of the wonderful, yet windy roads of Northern California. If you’ve never ridden a 1200 GSA, I would describe it as a cross between a dirt bike, a touring bike, and a Clydesdale horse. I mean, these things handle like a dream, but they are enormous. I should have known that I was in trouble when I was told that you measure the height of the bike in “hands” instead of inches. Just kidding, but this thing is enormous.
As I thought about a trip through Patagonia, I decided that I would not only get myself into shape, but I would throw myself into this adventure, and do anything and everything that might be necessary, in order to be “fully immersed and invested” in the trip. So, I would also need to learn Spanish, Motorcycle Maintenance, Wilderness First Aid, and probably Orienteering, not to mentioned getting down all of the other bits of knowledge which are related to the technology that I’ll be employing. That meant that I would need to learn how to use the Scala G9 headsets as second nature, starting and stopping a helmet mounted camera, interconnecting a GPS/iPhone/HelmetMicrophone, and other devices so that I could record interactive video, with helmet Audio. There is much more to learning this technology, but for now, I’ll leave it like this.
On August 10th, I took a ride up Mount Hamilton, an amazing road up a mountain in San Jose, CA. The road is thin and windy, while also having very limited visibility during the approach to just about any turn. The ride up Mt. Hamilton allowed me to ride about 120 miles on the highway, with about 35 miles up and down the mountain. My friend Lea and I had a great time, and we started to get in a groove on the way down. On the way down the mountain, I finally started to feel like I was really getting the hang of this thing.
The next morning, August 11th, 2013, I was on my way to The Moto Shop in South San Francisco to attend an introductory First Aid class, and that’s when it happened. At the bottom of the exit ramp, after making a good, balanced stop, I lost balance, and the handlebars turned full-lock to the right side. The bike started to come over, and I fought it. I fought it valiantly, but futilely. Before I knew it, I was laying in the middle of the exit ramp with a broken leg, hoping that no cars were approaching.
I would say that the number of thoughts that went through my head while laying in the street was truly amazing. First of all, I needed to shut off the bike, so I had to crawl my way to the bike, and switch the engine off. Then, there was the constant worry about whether cars were approaching. I was wearing my brand new helmet, jacket and pants, and while it might sound misguided, I was worried that I might have damaged the helmet.
Now, I realize that this may sound stupid, but these thoughts just keep coming, and even though you’re laying in the road, with your health compromised, the random and somewhat silly thoughts seem to keep coming. In addition, and in-between all of the other thoughts, there was this constant question that I heard over and over. Did you really just fall over and break your leg? Are you an idiot? How did you let this happen?
My mind was beating up on me pretty badly, so I guess it’s good that the leg was so severely broken because it distracted me, and I focused on talking to the Good Samaritan that had stopped to help me, and of course, the police had arrived by now, and were fully engaged in controlling the situation, and keeping me safe.
So, with only about 300 miles on my new bike, and while I was on my way to a first aid class, I broke my leg, and began a recovery process that would take months to complete. This is how my journey began…
Note: This post was written long after the accident, but was pre-dated, in order to allow for a more appropriate chronology of events.