I woke up to birdsong and the smell of wet earth from the rains overnight, feeling fantastic and ready for another day’s riding towards Cape York. I absolutely did not anticipate my biggest crash to date.
I hit an unmarked and unseen dusthole 30kms north of Coen, after I’d stopped at the Sexchange Hotel for a rest and coffee, and where only 40 minutes ago I had made my last journal post. I was doing about 75km/hr, and felt the front wobble aggressively. I wasn’t in the seat to begin with, with all my weight on the pegs. I gave it a bit of gas, but the 4th gear (my biggest mistake: should’ve been lower) torque was inadequate to get out of the wobble. At the moment I quit fighting the bike, I was already airborne. My only thought at the time was to curl up into the fetal position. So I did… and bounced and rolled on the ground in the dirt and gravel.
I was expecting pain, or shock at least. I didn’t feel any impact to my head, neck or back. But I definitely felt the sting in my right quad and left elbow. My first course of action was to check for a heart rate for some reason. The ticker was going, at a surprisingly normal rate that too.
“Right, this has happened, now what?”
I stood up, checked that all my limbs and fingers were ok. My neck and back were ok. I removed my helmet, jacket and gloves and went over to pick up the bike.
Up it came. I inspected it.
The instrument cluster had flown off -I found it 10 metres behind where the bike came to a rest- air intake ports smashed, lots of expensive BMW plastic in bits, front brake master cylinder hose snapped off and the mount bent, pannier bags ripped and flown off, tail rack bent, windshield broken, cameras both beaten up.
Extremely helpful people soon pulled over; we made a satellite phone call to the police station, and sent word to the town pub via people heading south. A rider with crutches as part of his luggage pulled over for a chat: similar mishap on the way up. I showed off my perfectly unbroken ankles so he knew what they looked like. Some pig hunters pulled over and gave me a beer, then helped me load the bike onto the back of a Roadtek employee’s ute, heading back to Coen. The Police were extremely diligent and we caught them on the way back into town going towards the crash site. It was a non-incident due to my lack of injury.
I got back to the Sexchange Hotel, to tell my folks and friends what happened. Locals, FB groups, other riders, workers in the area, all helped to figure out a way back to Cairns. Ben in Cairns has been incredibly helpful the entire time also.
Then the beer flowed, and soon I was knee deep in conversation with tourists, and the locals who gave me insight into their lives in this remote corner of the country. I now know who’s from where, who’s slept with whom, when and why.
“Mate, you should ring the ambos mate, triple-oh”, an overly well-meaning and decently drunken local insisted. He repeated his sentence at least five times, slurring a different word each time. I decided to take the advice. A paramedic happy to get a late Sunday callout gave me a once over, an icepack, and a thumbs up.
I do consider myself very lucky.
I rang insurance in the morning. My only priorities today: lodging the claim, and getting myself and the bike to Cairns.
A road train pulled up in town. I chatted with the driver, called his boss, and organised a ride to Cairns with my bike and kit, for a price. Not everyone gets a shotgun ride in a road train on the PDR, so this is kind of special.
Pretty sure the driver knows me better than anyone else in the country, and I know him pretty well too by this point; because we didn’t stop talking since we left Coen. Now that we’ve run out of conversation topics 6 hours later, I’m writing this, while he listens to an audiobook I’ve deemed too boring to distract me.
We’ll get to Cairns late, and I have to be at their office early, so I’ll probably just camp out at the truck yard. I’ll take the bike to a motorcycle shop in the morning.
Physically and mentally, I’m ok. I just want a functioning bike to carry on with my journey – whatever it may bring henceforth- but that’ll happen once I’m in Cairns later on, and I’ll worry about ‘later on’ later on…