Larry’s bike had quite an adventure traveling from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Panama City, Panama. Since we were not sure when Larry would be able to resume riding, the decision was made to ship his bike from Buenos Aires to the United Kingdom for storage and re-shipping. Somehow, it got taken off the ship in Hamburg, Germany. Fortunately, the mistake, and his bike, were found and the bike continued its trip to England. Precious days were lost.
The V-Strom was then booked to fly to Panama City from London via Madrid, Spain. The Spanish authorities must have known that we were in a time crunch. They just happened to choose Larry’s bike for “random inspection” at Customs. Even though the pannier keys were attached to the bike, the authorities pried open both panniers, bending the latches, and losing the guts of the locks.
After a few tense days of waiting, we were informed that Larry could pick up his bike Tuesday morning, March 15th. I waited at the hotel and photographed our team as they rode off to start Section 3 of our expedition. The beautiful white church down the street that I had planned to visit over our 5 ½ day stay finally got visited. A funeral was in process so I minimized my touring.
Richard took Larry to the Iberia Air Freight terminal to facilitate the import process. They had to go to the same office where we waited 7 hours last Thursday. In storage and transit since January 6th, the V-Strom was dead. With the Globebusters support van still traveling by ship from Ecuador, no jumper cables were handy. Richard had shopped for cables at several stores with no success. Multiple attempts at pushed starting failed. They finally attached a strap from Richard’s bike to Larry’s hand. Unfortunately, something went wrong and Larry was unable to release the strap before he crashed to the ground. Before riding 5 feet in Central America, after a 2 ½ month wait since his broken leg, Larry now had a huge lump on his elbow, a bloody knee, and an unhappy, previously broken, rib.
Finally, by 2pm, Larry, Richard, and I were packed up and ready to roll. We were happy to be riding as a team again. Black clouds indicated that rain was ahead of us. With temps in the 90s, we decided against wearing rain suits. Sure enough, within 20 miles we were soaked. Sun returned within 1 hour and the sauna began.
The 3 of enjoyed vast views of the Pacific and later the lush green interior. Just before dusk, the unthinkable happened. A dog appeared out of nowhere. Richard and Larry swerved in opposite directions and missed it. When I thought I was in a clear path, the dog suddenly did a 180 degree turn and headed back for me. Swerving might have meant that he would knock me off balance, not a good choice. When I knew impact was imminent, I put a death grip on the handlebars and cranked the throttle. If I was going to war with a dog, I would do everything in my power for the dog to come in 2nd place!
The impact was swift and intense. My left ankle felt as though it had been hit by a baseball bat by someone swinging for the bleachers. I believe that Divine intervention helped me keep the bike vertical and allowed me just enough reasoning power to roll to the road’s shoulder and stop.
Hearing my screams in his helmet headset, Larry immediately did a U-turn. Richard quickly noticed that neither of us were in his mirrors and came as well. They sat me down and assessed the damage. I was definitely injured but we didn’t take my boot off since if I could still ride, a secure boot is an excellent cast. My ankle and lower leg burned. Daylight was quickly burning. I decided to attempt to ride to the hotel 100 miles away. After they helped me mount the Suzuki, I realized that I had no left foot peg. Apparently, the force of the dog against my booted ankle sheared off the 1/2” bolt attaching the foot peg. We then noticed that dog flesh and hair decorated my left highway peg. The crash bar did its job of protecting the bike – it was now deflected 5 inches to the left. Richard moved one rear peg to the front and off we rode.
Lack of mobility and pain caused me to up shift with my heal and change gears as seldom as possible, but we made it safely to the hotel. Barbel helped me to shower. Kevin, our leader, and Erwin, a former medic in the German army, wrapped and iced my ankle. We’d decide what to do next in the morning.
15-Mar Panama City to David, Panama
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