E-mail Update - 2006-09-29

Motorcycle Mayhem (Never Sent)

This email was written but never spell checked or finished, but I am going to post it as is...

Hey Everyone,

As I left the last email I was not feeling very well. I had been to the doctor on Tuesday getting 3 days of antibiotics to fight off the severe throat infection. The firs 2 days had not yield much progress. At the end of the third day I was feeling a little better when I found out that the next day several people were renting motorcycles (Honda XR 250cc) to go off road around Cuzco. I decided that if I felt good enough on Friday morning (August 15) I would go. When I woke up I decided it would be ok. I would not have had enough energy to hike for sure, but riding a motorcycle takes less out of you. We had a group of 4 people. I was the outsider of the group as Paul, Thomas & Ben all knew each other quite well, but they were a really cool group to go with. After getting ready we went to the shop & got our gloves, jacket, helmet & goggles. After that we checked out the bikes & got some petrol. Of course they are near empty when you go to take them so you have to fill them up which is not included in the orignal price...oh those tricky Peruvians.

After getting filled up we headed out of town, escorted by the shop manager. My bike was orignally working ok, but then all of a sudden the power drained out of it & it completely stopped. They tried to get it working, but without luck. The shop owner asked if I had rode before, which was an easy yes since I have rode motorcycles since I was very young & have a motorcycle license at home. I had not rode off-road in a while, but decided to keep that to myself. He also asked if I could kick start to which I said yes, both my bikes when I was a kid were kick start models. After some thinking he decided to give me his personal racing bike which was a 400cc. Now that seems like a good deal, since 400cc would be more expensive, but what I didn´t know was that (A) his bike was a piece of crap that quit all the time for no reason and (B) the kick start usually didn´t work, so it we would have to push start it. If I had known either of these I would have asked for a different bike, but I didn´t. I probably should have realized this when it took a long time for us to get the bike started in town & when it quit at a stop on the hill, although I though maybe I just wasn´t reviving it enough, so I dismissed it. As soon as we got to some open road I opened it up & blew right by Tom, so at least the 400cc had some upside to it ;)

Eventually we made it out of town, all of the problems having cost us a lot of time. We stopped at the side of the road to take a few pictures (picture entitled bikes.jpg). When we tried to go again the bike would not go, which started the afternoon of push starts with help from my fellow riders. Luckily I had done jump (push) starts before so I had some experience, but the tough think was always turning around in the small road while revving the motorcycle high enough that it didn´t kill. Either way the rest of the day was me or others from the group giving our all trying to kick start it with occassional success or them pushing me for yet another jump start. That took some of the fun out of it, but the guys were good about it & really knew there was nothing I could do about it.

After getting going again we had some fun on the back roads. One thing I knew from riding before was to let the bike do the work. Meaning that when the back starts to slide, you don´t try to steer out of it, just flow with the bike. I am pretty sure that if it had been my first time riding I would have crashed at some point & really hurt myself. The previous week a guy had crashed & at the hostel was know as Cripple Tom after that...not exactly reassuring! The other 3 guys had rode very little before but for the most part did ok & didn´t hurt themselves so that was good. Thomas was our fearless leader since he had some idea where we were going. I was happy to just sit back & follow, since it seems like typically in groups I have had to do the map work. After working our way up the mountain rode we came to a point that was quite open. I decided to open the 400cc all the way up to see what it had. It had quite a bit as the case was. There was no speedometer so I don´t really know, but really soon I was a long ways ahead of the group. At one point after I had backed it off I met a car who flashed there headlights at me. I decided to try to figure it out while I was still moving...not the best idea I had that day. I ended up in the ditch as I in effect drifted off the road. We had been in places before that if I had did that I would have feel hundreds of feet of the site off a cliff. I was smart enough to do it in a place where there were actual ditches, so I just eased off, slowing down coming to a stop without incident. It was more embarassing than anything, because it was careless. Luckily it would be my worst incident of the day. After I did this we took some time along the road including taking some pictures (including the picture entitled group.jpg, which was taken by Thomas´s camera).

Our first destination were these ¨hot¨ springs that we had been told about. It took quite a bit off work to find them, well for Thomas anyway as he had to keep asking locals how to get to them. At one point we stopped at this small shop area, where we got a few drinks, directions & some pictures of & with the locals (including the picture entitled lady.jpg, which was taken by Thomas´s camera). We eventually arrived to find that the hot springs were basically slightly warm swimming pool like, very green totally unhealthy looking water. We took a pass on this, but chilled out for a little while eating some snacks Thomas had & even getting a few pictures with the local kids.

After another push start we started to ride towards our second destination which was lunch at the town with petrol. However the ride stopped abruptly. We started going the wrong way & when we turned around Ben´s motorcycle broke throwing him off. The main bolt that holds everything together & keeps the bike up off the ground just came out. Luckily he was ok & he was going really slow on his turn. If it had happened when we had been most other places it probably would have been worse. It took a little while to get the bike put back together & since there was obviously no nut we had to compromise with some tape to try to hold it. Back on the road we had some more issues as while driving Thomas hit a big bump in the middle of the road & went into the ditch. It was pretty lucky as he landed in a big pile of dirt cushioning his wreck. Once we got the bike off him he was ok, getting through it without injury. On the day everyone ended up being ok which was good considering the road & the general lack of experience of the group.

Eventually we got to lunch which was at this place where you have one option which is an egg sandwich & coffee or tea. Its Peru so they had to go buy the eggs after we placed our order...what did they think we would have? After lunch we went to the petrol station which is really a lady with buckets of petrol. I was the only one who needed petrol & I needed 2 buckets. After that we headed back towards Cuzco. On the ride back we got in action riding pictures, took a naked group picture on the bikes & got rained on while trying to figure out which way it was back to Cuzco. About the second part of that...in the shops they have these posters of guys on the bikes with only helmets and gloves. Well even though it was not my idea how can I say no to a naked bike picture, I mean you should do everything at least once right. It was a pretty funny picture we are sitting on the bikes so its not porn or anything thankfully. Don´t worry that picture will never be on my website or in the email updates ;)

Love & Peace