Yup, I had me a real Gump moment. It luckily wasn’t too serious, but it was certainly a wake-up call…
Riding south from Addis the varied terrain continues, with jungle covered hills and a strangely arid lake district to pass through before you hit the real desert lands around the Kenyan border. It’s fun and interesting riding, but the problem starts when you get close to the Moyale border crossing. The new road is almost too perfect- beautiful, straight tarmac almost devoid of people or traffic. With the hot afternoon sun beating down and a desire to get across the border before it closes, it also becomes amazingly dangerous.
Before this danger becomes too painfully obvious, the scenery takes you in again. Classic Africa , or what?!
With all this easy riding and sunny weather it wasn’t much of a surprise that I started to get drowsy. I’d been riding hard and the ubiquitous Ethiopian meat and bread lunch was really starting to pull me down. Normally I would have pulled over and had a little snooze or walk around, but I was only about 20km from the border and I really wanted to make it so I could spend the night on the Kenyan side to get an early start on the dreaded Moyale-Isiolo road the next day.
It was not to be.
The road might have been perfect, but the signage was still terrible and my mind was wandering. A sharp, unmarked turn along a ridge surprised me and before I knew it I had to drop the bike or go over the edge and down into a ravine. I was wearing all my gear and was able to scrub off most of my speed before dropping onto the tarmac, but I knew it wasn’t going to be good- my bike slide along the ground, ripping one of my panniers off the bike along with a turn signal and side light. The right hand side of my body was fairly protected by the bike, but the impact was still heavy and I knew I’d be lucky to escape with only some technicolour bruising. Getting off the bike and doing a quick survey showed me to be luckier than I deserved- the tires where fine, the engine would start, and the damage was mostly minor. Then I hit the unlucky part- my bike was about 5 feet down the steep ravine and I had cracked at least a few of my ribs. I could lift the bike up, but there was no way I was going to move it. The tires would just spin when I tried the gas and, even without injuries, pushing a bike with a 256kg dry weight 5 feet up a steep gravel incline wasn’t going to happen…
It wasn’t going to happen; that is until I got lucky- again. Four Swiss overlanders who I had passed a while back drove up, stopped, and saved me from myself. We fixed a strap to the bike, lifted it upright, and then pulled it up onto the road. A couple of Ethiopians showed up to watch, but the bike was on it’s stand and ready for a proper check in under 10 minutes! In less than 30 minutes I had the pannier back on the bike (luckily I carry spare straps), the broken lights duct taped to the bike, and myself back on the road.
I was incredibly lucky, but one of these days I really have to stop being such a dumbass.
In the picture you’ll notice that one of my panniers is rather bent. The other thing is that the Ethiopian has an AK-47 over his shoulder. It’s funny, I didn’t notice the rifle until I looked at the picture since in Africa you just kind of get used to people carrying guns.
The road stayed nice right up until the border, but I didn’t really care. The next day I was going to hit one of the worst major roads in Africa for at least a 2 day slog and I didn’t even know if I could pick up my bike anymore…