after leaving the salar de uyuni and a day of rest in a great little hotel and restaurant in uyuni, we headed off further into the wild back country of bolivia with a bush camp and small town hostel scheduled before a rest day in tupiza. we had two full days of unpaved rough corrugated roads and trails. 109k and 102k’s respectively, with quite a bit of climbing on the second day. rough, it turned out to be. constant bumping, jangling, rattling and vibrating to your core. we found ourselves forever moving across the roads and trails and into the ditches just looking for a quieter place to move our bodies and bikes forward. as i struggled along our basic road i noticed a couple of cyclists had moved down about a 10 foot rocky slope to what appeared to be some smoother surface below. i followed suit and slid and bumped my way along the short descent when suddenly the front wheel impacted an unseen small ditch at the bottom of the slope. that impact sent me flying over the handlebars and onto the rocky surface where my rolled shoulder collided in an unforgiving manner. my first reaction was to grab that shoulder and move to get up – i found it not possible. of all the falls and spills i’ve taken i’ve always been able to shake it off and scramble back up in some manner. this time my body just wouldn’t allow it. i was soon surrounded by concerned cycling friends. all trying to help me up either physically or with their encouragement. i just wanted to lay there. i’m told i fainted a couple of times and their efforts evolved into getting help. my friend Barry hopped on his bike and sped off to find our bike dreams truck with driver walter and group doctor annelot aboard. kristin and hilde, two norwegian sister nurses and fellow cyclists assisted me in the meantime. the truck arrived and it become clear that my falling blood pressure was going to make it difficult to get me up into the high unstepped seating portion of our work horse truck. then an suv driven by a kind bolivian stopped and offered to help. he patiently waited while annelot , kristin and hilde got me slowly to an upright position so helping hands could get me into the vehicle. the local bolivian man knew the way to the hospital and our bike dreams truck followed close behind. they took me into the emergency room and we awaited a doctor’s assessment. all things take time and my time in that room was no exception. i have no complaints though. these people are busy. i got down to the X-ray room for a couple of photos (in a wheelchair!) and back to the little room. the bolivian x-ray technician came in and confirmed to annelot that i had dislocated the shoulder socket then asked us to await the doctors confirmation. some time later we had that confirmation but also with the info that no one there could re-locate the shoulder and they wanted to send me in the ambulance to potosi, 3 hours in the wrong direction. they gave me a shot of something in the top of my behind. annelot had also given me a couple of pain
pills with kristin trying to relax me and every so often telling me to breathe. what was going through my mind was how could this spill on my shoulder possibly make me so helpless – where was all this pain coming from and why was i such a baby about it. annelot asked me if i was willing to let her try to reset it. YES. easy answer. so kristin and annelid took charge of the room. kristin found some morphine and prepared a shot. walter made a sling to hold me with and annelid moved my arm into position then asked if i was ready. you bet. she pulled while walter held and kristin comforted. POP. what a beautiful sound. the absence of pain.
my accident was very disappointing. i want to be on the bike, seeing the countryside close up and spending the time with my fellow cyclists. however, i feel so fortunate to have had annelot, kristin, walter and my fellow cyclists there to get me through it. so lucky. the choice i have now was whether i wanted to take a bus ahead and wait in a hotel or ride in the truck and spend the time with my fellow cyclists in bush camps and hostels. it was an easy choice. i also took the opportunity to offer the use of my bike to our beloved lucho, our bike dreams mechanic and former peruvian cycling champion. he always tells me how much he admires my bike. yesterday he changed out the pedals for his shoes, lowered the seat and off lucho flew. my bike has never gone so fast. made me happy.
yesterday i rode with robert, his girlfriend maria and ellen our cook in the lead bike dreams truck. hannie, married to marius, rode as far as the half-way point at lunch then biked the second half. hannie and marius have cycled so many places in the world i can’t begin to recount them. marius is a head and neck surgeon in holland – they have three grown children.
hannie and i marveled at the scenery – at one point she said to me “this reminds me of a park we cycled in america. you know, where it looks like giant footprints.” “canyonland” i replied. “yes” she replied. as the truck bumped and bounced its way through tight curves, ascents and descents, steep drops and dust swirls along this rough single track we held on to anything we could. we are still at a high elevation here as we have been for better than six weeks so we weren’t too surprised to see vicunas along the hillsides. robert has a busy schedule when we arrive at our next stop so there can be no photo stops – the scenery is fantastic. i miss most of it as far as photos are concerned since we are bouncing so much and moving through it all rapidly . occasionally i try through the window but i don’t have high hopes for the results. i’ll post what i can but i hope you realize that its much more than i have captured.
i’m sure you noticed the absence of caps – just too hard with just one hand.