Today’s distance / ???????: 20 miles / 33km
Average speed / ????: 6.9mph / 11km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 3h 17m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 2936mi plus 261mi (?) / 4725km plus 420km (?)
Ascent / ??: 435m
Descent / ??: 140m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N30.12.04.0, W22.214.171.124
Thank goodness for Foo Fighters. Their new album. Echoes, Silience, Patience & Grace. Fantastic. It got me going this morning after another very early start to beat the heat of the day. The first hour was in silence as I brooded about my heavy pack, the slow chipseal road, and generally feeling exhausted after a couple nights bad sleep. I turned my MP3 player on, got the tunes flowing, and enjoyed the rest of the skate 20 miles to a picnic spot on US90.
I arrived at the picnic spot about 10:30am. John and his wife, both from Canada, were stopped at the picnic area for a brief break from the road. They were also on their way to the Big Bend Nature area. I was resting in the shade when John said that they were having brunch in their humble but comfortable camper van. He dragged me into the camper and piled a plate of big thick blueberry pancakes (more like very large piklets) in front of me. They tasted great, and I enjoyed chatting to John and his wife (please remind me of your name – sorry!). They filled my water bottles up with water and I headed out on my way towards Marathon. Little did they know that in less than 15 minutes, I would be back…
I headed down the road for about two miles before hopping off the road behind some bushes to dig a hole and attend to some urgent callings of nature. Burying the evidence, I got ready to hit the road again. No more than three minutes after getting moving, the westerly wind started blowing. Not your usual westerly. 40 to 50 mph. Gnarly stuff. Can’t skate let alone cycle let alone walk into it kind of wind. Blow this for a joke, I thought, and decided to skate back to the picnic area and spend the rest of the day resting in my tent out of the wind.
The wind was awesome when at my back. 10, 15, 20mph, I was up to speed in no time. I took advantage of the help at my back to take a look around. Momentarily, in the euphoria of actually not having to push to move, I forgot that I was skating on crunchy chipseal. I hit a loose patch of gravel, and I went down.
The following moments are all fairly well etched into my brain. A thump as my torso hits the gravely pavement. Plastic grinds as my MP3 player and GPS go clattering across the road. Then the icing on the cake. CRACK!
A sickening slap of plastic, the sound dulled as the polystyrene of my helmet dulled the blow to my head.
My first thought: I’m glad I have travel insurance, because this is going to cost.
I try to sit up immediately, concerned that a vehicle might crest the small hill ahead and not see me on the ground. The left hand side of my vision is not working. A great mottled mess if sparkling spots blurs any attempt to see what’s going on to the left of me.
I try to shake it off. This works to a degree and I scramble to get off the road and gather all the bits of electronics that are on the road.
I notice blood. Ripped t-shirt. Blood on my trousers. A quick inspection reveals a deep gash on my hip. Right where my hip-belt of my pack rests. Nice. That’ll be rather inconvenient for a while.
A quick scoot to the picnic area, and John is looking understandably perplexed. I leave in relatively good spirits, I return a bloodied mess.
The grazes are sore enough, but it’s the deep gouges I am concerned about. Jolly well that there were two RVs at the picnic area. It looks like I’m smiling in the above photo – it’s a grimace with a bit of a smile thrown in because I’m happy I’m alive. This place is in the middle of nowhere, with no water source. Amidst the chaos of the gale, I am given a couple of gallons of precious water to clean out my wounds. In my firstaid kit I have gauze and tape. A cycling trio at the picnic area kindly give me an extra gauze pad from their kit for use later. Thanks guys.
John becomes the nurse and helps pour water as I scrub the wounds out with dish soap and water. To call this a painful process is an understatement. Better a clean wound than a dirty one though…
I am certain that the TSG Superlight helmet was the difference between me skating away from this event and me being either dead or very near it. The helmet took an amazing blow, the impact absorption material doing it’s job – compressing and cracking. It makes me cringe to think what the outcome would have been if I wasn’t wearing the helmet. A massive thanks to TSG International for supplying me with the great helmet. So lightweight and comfy you don’t notice you’re wearing it – until you need it!
I spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with John. I would have rathered go and sleep in my tent for the remainder of the afternoon. But it was a good thing. I’m glad John was there to unwittingly keep me under surveillance after the blow to my head. It was disturbing enough when at 6pm when I did eventually retire to my tent, I saw white flashes as I closed my eyes.
I drifted off to sleep scared and alone.