Sunday, December 4, 2011

Lowside into a concrete spacewalk

We knew another long day of riding awaited us to arrive in Lechería that evening. A good breakfast, strong coffee, and our final good byes sent us along the hot Venezuelan tarmac. We decided to avoid Caracas all together, and even opted to not go through the mountainous Guatopo national park road to save time. Even so, the route through San Juan de los Morros over towards Barcelona was beautiful. This 2 lane highway passed through a lot of small towns, had light traffic, and was much more interesting than the thoroughfares that brought us into the Maracay area. Some of what made it interesting also made it dangerous...

Cruising at a relaxed pace along a decently paved 2 lane road through light twisties, entering regions of dense forest/jungle on each side for stretches, then exiting into open, rolling agricultural expanses. Coming around a tight curve to the right, with not that much speed, not that much lean, and a large spot of fresh oil in the road, the front wheel slid out immediately, putting the engine guard bags onto the pavement, along with the rest of the bike immediately after. Slow motion started. The bike was no longer controllable, laying Jill and me gently down on the road, as it slid forward and ahead of us. Mike's slide took him directly forward in our lane, as Jill began to slide more towards the centerline. The truck that had been following us was luckily far enough behind us to brake safely, but hurriedly. We continued sliding for a good length (15-20 meters?) coming to a stop and hopping right up. The TA had slid off the road to the right hand side, settling into the small ditch. Jill and I were both able to stand up and walk off to the side of the road. The 3 Venezuelans in the truck had already come to a stop just in front of the TA and were waving/warning any oncoming traffic down (luckily only that 1 truck was near us at the time, and these guys were super helpful with picking up the bike and pieces too. When they were picking up our luggage and items, they kept saying "no te preocupes, todos los venezolanos no son ladrones." Eventually they were making jokes about us riding a motorcycle all the way from the states, asking if a car would have been safer.). Jill and I checked each other out to make sure we were alright, and thank God we were almost altogether unscathed. Next step, see what damage was done to our trusty stead.

The GIVI trunk was in the middle of the road, having broken its locking tab off the base plate. Jill's saddle bag was still attached to the bike, but with a few new "ventilation" holes. The right side engine guard bag was in tatters, and we had lost some of the small spares on that side, and damaged the spare tube within. The front end was tweaked, but rideable. With our spare rope we tied the pieces back together again and were able to get out of there. Hanging out on the side of a Venezeulan highway around a blind curve was not a good place to be.

Down the road aways, we stopped again to collect ourselves, drink some water and double check our state. We were fine, and the bike was riding fine. In fact, because of the fantastic outcome, we both even admitted that the slide was a lot of fun. It was this weightless, sliding, spacewalk sensation that no slip-and-slide can ever compare to. Once again, another motorcycle experience that both of us hope to not repeat. But we are lucky and thankful that all was alright this time. And now that we are updating our blog, and typing about this crash and the hellacious experience riding into Maracay, it seems like Venezuela was harsh to us. But while we were there, it didn't feel that way at all. We both loved Venezuela, the positive experiences far overshadowed the scary events. But these events fit better into blog format than the day to day conversations and intangible feelings.

By this time on that afternoon, we are really looking forward to getting to Lechería to relax. Only 4.5 more hours to go...

(street scene of a small town on the way to Lechería)

By the time we got to Lechería, we had dealt with over an hour worth of traffic crawling through Pto la Cruz. We found a corner with some shops and restaurants to call Ricardo, our couchsurfing host. Jill had a good chance to practice her Spanish asking the shopkeepers to borrow a phone (public phones are near impossible to find in Venezuela) and to get directions. We guessed pretty well on our way into town, somehow ending up within 2 blocks of Ricardo's house.

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