I feel the stiffness and soreness in my hands, my neck, my back… I feel the bruises on my legs, my hip, my elbow, my ass… I look at a torn apart Georgia, and my torn jacket and pants and broken helmet… I think back on the cold, the wind, the thin air, the shitty road, the fishtail, the 60mph smash against the ground, and staring up at the sky from the ditch… and eventually to my 4 hour ride after the crash.
The pain I have endured, the time and money lost on repairs and rehab, they are all annoying and troublesome – but I am here to endure it. I can still hardly believe that after being whipped to the ground at such a speed that I was able to ride Georgia out from the middle of nowhere to Arequipa. Even more incredible is that I broke no bones, suffered no concussion (though my head was one of the first points of impact), and am able to write this.
I don’t know whether it’s the wings on my leg, my mother’s enduring presence – in one form or another, the lucky charms I carry with me… whatever it is it’s keeping me here still. I sometimes close my eyes and see the moments of impact, the moments of being separated from Georgia in Guatemala and Peru, and I shake with fear – fear of the road, fear of continuing my journey. After the Guatemala crash it took more than 6 months to start riding normally again. On every curve in the road I saw myself smashing against the wall, every discoloration I thought was a puddle of gas or oil. After the ride from Glacier, when I was almost hypothermic, for a whole year I thought every shadow on the side of the road was an animal getting ready to jump out in front of me. And now I can add being whipped to the ground to the morbid fantasies that crawl into my waking mind.
But in spite of the horror, in spite of the fear, I know I cannot stop. I know that because no matter how bad it seems it could have been worse. I was punished, for what I do not know, but I was not incapacitated. My progress was retarded, but not halted. The ride is not meant to be over.
And so I am left to count my blessings, to mount again my trusty steed, to feel the wind in my face and the roar beneath my saddle, and ride further into the depths of our incredible planet and the amazing people that inhabit it, and hopefully find the books I am meant to write.