The dark side of the road

The next morning I was riding down the twisting road from the southern highlands into the plains and towards Cali when I encountered something that every rider dreads.  A bike was on the ground with a rider laying beside it and a bus, part way in the wrong lane, was stopped.

*pic taken later after clean up*

It was one of the guys I had met at the border.  He had been enjoying the wonderful ride down into the valley when a bus had cut into his lane on a corner and side swiped him.  He and the bike weren’t badly hurt, but it was the kind of accident that always seems ripe to happen.  Many of the roads in developing regions are too narrow for the trucks and buses that use them, and the trucks and buses themselves make it worse by trying to keep their speed up by cutting lanes in the corners.

Luckily I had some new specialised bandages that I’d purchased after my Bolivian accident and a spare canvas bag, so I was able to help get the rider and his gear together for a slow ride to the local hospital.  A couple of hours and cast for his broken ankle later we were back on the road looking for his friends who had been riding ahead.  We found them, they were all happy that the experience wasn’t anything more serious and we all went on our seperate ways.

All’s well that ends well.

Except it wasn’t.

the next day I saw two more bike accidents.  One was a simple one with a young guy riding too fast and rear ending a pickup that braked sharply at an unmarked speed bump.  He was fine, the bike was only scratched, and I was able to leave him and the trucks owner to argue over damages.

The other one was different.

I was riding in the massive valley around Cali when I saw some cars pulled over to the side of the road and someone directing traffic around them.  As I passed I saw a young woman sprawled on the ground beside a destroyed bike.  The onlookers were doing just that- looking.  She was almost motionless, with only a strange twitching going down the right side of her body.  There was nothing I could add to the situation, so I  slowly rode on and was quickly passed by a rushing ambulance flanked by two screaming police motorcycle outriders.  I wished her the best.

About ten minutes later I was passed again by a much slower ambulance, this time with two now silent motorcycles acting as escorts for what I can only imagine was a hearse.


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