What a day.
I met a crazy 60 year old German hippy last night called Clarence. He was all like ‘cosmic looove’ and ‘natural coolness’. I was so positive about my day. I was totally going to have a calm day. I was. I really was.
▣ Highly recommend ▣ Boring but safe ▣ Shit. Boring, strenuous & dangerous ▣ Incomplete
What I thought would happen
A short, relatively boring ride to Riga
What actually happened
I cried until my eyeballs shrivelled up. And I almost lost a leg.
I set off for Riga, Latvia from Pärnu, Estonia. I decided to take some of the smaller roads that run parallel to the coastal highway through to Riga. They are really beautiful and much richer than the highway. Shortly after I crossed the Latvian border I took a dirt track down through the forest to the sea. It wound itself deep through woodland before twisting parallel to a sparkling champagne sea. It was incredible.
After about an hour or so of mucking about and having THE best time I decided to take a bicycle track. I thought about turning around but just thought mayyyybe I’d be able to get through. This was a very bad idea.
The bicycle track
The path was fairly wide at first, just a little overgrown with trees and what not. About 3/4 of the way in it turned and clung tightly to the edge of sloping beach cliff. The beautiful beach right below me. Then I saw this sign.
Evidently somebody before me was as displeased as I. It was a dead end. Unless I wanted to carry my bike down a flight of stairs.
I tried to turn my bike around and wouldn’t you know it, it fell over. I got up, dusted myself off and assessed the damage. It was ok, but I’d have to re-pack everything. No worries, I’ve done it so many times by now that it doesn’t really bother me. Here are some photos I took when I’m all happy and making the most of the situation. Yay.
Not 2 minutes down the track after I had everything re-packed on my bike I made a terrible mistake.
My wheel ran over something – I’m not sure what, a groove perhaps, and it rocked to the right side. I put my feet down to steady it but found my right leg was too low on the ground to support the bike. As much as I screamed in my head not to let go, the weight of the bike won out and collapsed ontop of me, crushing my right leg beneath.
My right ankle was twisted beneath the bike, painfully stuck. My torso twisted against the ground. My leather jacket and gear, completely stiff, saved my ankle from breaking and my back from being punctured by sharp unearthed tree roots. But it also prevented any movement. I could hardly lift my left leg, but I did the best I could, placing it against the bike and trying to leverage it off my other foot. It moved but it took my whole ankle and foot with it. Searing pain crept up my ankle and shin.
I quickly realised that I was all alone. Goosebumps pimpled my body. It’s not like I could wait all day to be rescued, every minute passing drained my leg of more blood. I’m not an expert but I’d say I’d lose my leg if I waited too long.
I screamed for help. I screamed as long and as loud as I could. I screamed until my voice broke. It was hysterical. Strangled. Sad.
I never realised how pathetic a scream for help is. And how ineffective. I had never felt so helpless. I screamed and screamed and then cried. I swore at myself for thinking I was capable enough to do this trip. I tried over and over to twist my foot out. After a while I actually considered my final option would be to break my foot to save my leg. I could feel the blood completely drained, my foot was numb.
So all these thoughts are running frantically through my mind as I try to calm down. All of a sudden I realised something. Panic isn’t helping. It’s easy to think that it will magically call the universe to a halt and you will be transported out of the situation. It’s easy to succumb to that delicious idea. But it’s simply not true. You can’t cry your way out of everything.
“It’s easy to think that it will magically call the universe to a halt and you’ll be transported out of the situation. It’s easy to succumb to that delicious idea. But it’s simply not true. You can’t cry your way out of everything.”
I tried to think of all my options. I only had one. Undo the bags on the back and try again. Perhaps the shift of weight would help. I twisted my body over and fiddled with the bag straps. Unfortunately I had secured them a little too well, with three different straps. I tried over and over to undo the ties. When I was unsuccessful I cried harder and screamed hysterically, angry at myself and at the universe.
I tried to calm myself down again. I reached over and over trying desperately to untie the ties. My left hand sweaty and frantically grasping at the ties. My leather jacket restricting my movement. I had tied it too good.
When you have NOTHING, NO OTHER CHOICE, you just have to do it. You just have to make it happen. I just kept trying, because there was no other option. I had no simcard and no communication. I made a last effort and slid my sleeping bag out. I then tried and tried and tried and tried to slide the bigger bag off, until finally it gave way a little. Over and over I tried until I could shove it out of the way. Bear in mind I’m doing this one handed, with my body twisted over the bike and in straight-jacket-like leathers.
I put my left leg against the bike and pushed with all I had. It moved a little. I tried again this time harder, and it almost made enough space to get my foot out. I tried once more, I gave it everything, I gritted my teeth, I panted and I pushed. And my leg finally came free.
I curled up in a ball in the bracken shivering. I felt branches scratching my face, insects, spiders — everything all over me. But none of that mattered. I cried because I was in pain, but mostly because I was feeling sorry for myself. Because, well, relief.
I stayed in the fetal position for I don’t know how long, then I got up and limped over my bike. I noticed a large spider making a web on my dashboard. I’m normally afraid of spiders. I didn’t care. I flicked it away with my finger like it was a fly. Fuck this shit. Fuck all the stupid things I used to worry about. I live in a bubble. I can’t even handle real life. Pathetic.
I set about moving my bags by hand up the road, so that when I tried to drive my bike out it would be easier if I hit a rough patch. I slowly picked up my bike and drove it in intervals down the track, almost losing it a third time. This time it was easier without all the weight.
When I reached the end of the dirt track there was relief. When I hit the asphalt there was serenity. When I got to Riga I got drunk.
What I learned today
1. If you scream nobody will hear you
2. I’m not invincible