Friday, July 3, 2009

Long time no update. And this isn't a very real update, either. The internet connection I'm on is quite slow, so I'm not able to post any pictures or anything.

Since my last post, it rained almost constantly, only letting up yesterday evening. And I don't mean just kinda drizzly. I mean epic fucking Noah's Arc type rain. When it stopped raining, it would be hailing. And for the record, hail hitting your helmet at 60mph sounds like a machine gun going off next to your head

I took the Mackenzie highway across the northwest territories, to the Liard highway, which took me down into British Colombia. Both of these roads were "Gravel". Which, in Northwest-territories-speak, means "Mud with some small rocks on the side". They were . . . pretty bad.

That time in the Northwest Territory was probably the lowest I've felt at any point in the trip. After a few days of almost constant rain and EPIC mosquitoes, everything was wet, I was always cold, there was no way to actually get or stay dry, and I'd almost gotten used to just itching everywhere.

Add to that the stress of riding on pretty lousy mud roads that have been soaked by a few days of heavy rain, and it's just . . . it's exhausting. You have to be HYPER-aware at every minute of every hour, you cannot let concentration lapse for a single second, because if you do, you really might die. I had four times where I almost wiped out, once was so bad that I have NO idea how I managed to save it. I got into what's known as a "tank slapper", where the bike is oscillating VERY rapidly side to side, twisting the handlebars back and forth and making your body slap into either side of the tank. I'm not sure how I made it out of that one, but it all happened so fast and was so scary that I didn't even get an adrenaline buzz from it. I just kept my eyes locked on the horizon, and gave it more throttle, and eventually it worked itself out.

Faith. Faith is what you need when riding this sort of bike, in those sort of conditions. Because when the situation gets very lousy, when the bike is flipping side to side and you're slaloming almost uncontrolled through ankle-deep mud and gravel, you have to do what seems like the scariest thing possible. You look up, away from the road, and give it more throttle. And you have faith that it'll be alright, that the bike will steady itself, the ground will eventually become firmer and that you'll be okay. You have to take that all on faith.

And the consequences of wiping out where I was, on this little mud road 200 miles away from anything, where maybe 20 vehicles A DAY pass . . . I'd just rather not think about.

It's gotten better in the last day, though. Yesterday started awful, cold rain and hail, but cleared up around 6pm and has been beautiful since. I spent last night at the Liard Hotsprings, and am heading to Whitehorse. There's a library there, so I'll spend a day or so doing a full picture update there.

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