Cheated Death Again, Just Barely.!

Trip Start Dec 25, 2009
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13
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Trip End Feb 13, 2010


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Flag of Panama  , Bocas del Toro,
Sunday, January 10, 2010

We made it to the boarder and it took about two hours total time to get through CR and into Panama.  We entered the CR customs where we found a hand operated gate just before a very narrow bridge.  We filed the paperwork to leave the country and started the bikes.  Jene was off first, I stopped to take a picture of him as he was about three quarters across the bridge.  The bridge was crowded with people, strollers, and had a railroad track going up the center.  The bridge deck consisted of 3 inch by 10 inch rough hewn planks randomly spiked to the rotten cross members you usually find under RR tracks.  Youīll see by the pictures that the planks are three wide and have unequal gaps between them.  The spikes used to secure them are not driven in all of the way and are bent over.  They are well polished from tires and foot traffic.  As I started across the bridge I was gripped with fear as the bike wanted to fall into the cracks, and I knew that this was not a good thing, as the bike can be wrenched for your grip and twisted out of control.  Remember how this would happen when riding a bycycle.  Well this is on a bigger scale.  I tried to ddrag my feet but caught the soles on the spikes and edges of the planks.  There was also wire and fencing that was torn and sticking out into the lane of traffic.  Add in the RR tracks and you can see that this was a sketchy crossing at best.  I was riding with my left foot on the track and my tire on the far left plank as best as I could stay.  I was thinking that this was the most dangerous riding we had done so far.  I was struggling to keep my left foot smoothly on the rail and not to get my right foot snagged on anything.  I tried to keep my left foot riding on the RR track and my right foot on the middle plank.  I tried to keep my tire on the left plank.  They were not consistent so it was really difficult.  The fencing and wire from the damaged protection on the right keeps snagging my right foot.  There were places that if you had to put your foot down it would go between the RR ties and snap you leg in a heartbeat.  I tried to keep my vision well down the bridge and not in front of the bike.  I noticed a commotion down the tracks and could not see Jene.  I thought he must have made it off the bridge as he was traveling much faster than I was.  Then I saw Jene stand up from across the tracks on the far left.  I could see the bike on itīs side and the there was debris on the tracks as well.  I made it up to the crowd that had formed around Jene just as he was getting help picking up the bike and getting the front tire that had crossed the track over and back in line with the rear tire.  Jene was alright, but had some road rash on his left forearm, rash on his left shoulder with a cut and bruising already starting to show, and a cut and bruising above his left knee.  He said that a board had shifted and that was the last thing he noticed before being bucked off to his left.  His helmet was ripped off by the radio cable, cause he didn't have his chin strap done up.  the helmet had some deep scratched though that might show that it had protected him in the initial impact.  He was thrown across the tracks and had landed off the bridge and was hanging from the two cables that were strung across for some reason other than stopping flying bodies.  The drop to the river below was about 40 feet!  The river was muddy brown and I couldn'tīt tell how deep it was.  I bet though it was littered with debris and construction material under water.  The cables had stopped Jene from a much longer and more serious fall.  We shuttered when we talked about that.  As we were standing at the bike a gentleman came up to Jene and said "Today is your lucky day senior!"  another said that he was very happy to see Jene standing up, that the bridge was dangerous and many people had fallen off.  Youīll see in the picture of the spot where Jene almost went off that the bridge more dangerous that we even expected.
 We made into Panama for about $30.  We had to pay a 15 dollar entrance fee, a 5 dollar visa and then after we were finished we were asked to come into one of the rooms that we previously had to talk through a secure window to give them $10 for another entrance fee.  This was clearly a graft situation.  I asked the guy where my receipt was for the $10, he said he had given it to me earlier, I mentioned that the paper didnīt mention the 10 bucks.  I looked him in the eye and just shook my head.  We both knew what was going on, I just wanted him to know of my disapproval. 

We took off and immediately got on to a one way road that was not marked but there were plenty of folks whistling to us.  We some how made it to the ferry dock and found it had sailed, next one tomorrow morning.  We found a place to park the bikes and took a water taxi to Bocas.  More on that later.



Jene is FINE a little sore today,his shoulder being the biggest concern. The left pannier took a direct hit and broke off the lid.  We will need an aluminum welder for sure and some time to get the work done.  The handle bars are bent so we have to figure that out too.  We made it to the ferry dock and found that the next one was tomorrow morning.  We parked the bikes and took a water taxi over to Bocas, more on that later.
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Comments

glockrow
glockrow on

Glad Jene's OK! I guess maybe the "shortcut" wasn't such a good idea after all!!

Karen Zwart on

I can't believe you guys. It scares me to read this. Glad you are alive and hope you shoulder heals alright. Keep us posted. JD I am so glad you are doing this.

twinotterdriver
twinotterdriver on

Be careful out there! Not to make light of your difficulties but it seems that adventure cyclists have an ongoing battle with water crossings and bridges. I included a link to a blog of a couple of Brits in eastern Siberia that I thought you guys might enjoy. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=533442 We're really enjoying your travels. Thanks for sharing.

Ross & Kate

LEISA BOOS on

HI JD
NOT SURE IF YOU REMEMBER ME, BUT MY FRIEND AND I HAD MET YOU AT THE HOLIDAY INN IN COSTA RICA NEAR THE AIRPORT, YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS WERE JUST GOING DOWN TO PANAMA AND OR YOU HAD JUST GOTTEN YOUR BIKES, NOT SURE. I WAS THE ONE WITH THE SHORT HAIR (SMILE)
HOPE ALL IS GOING WELL, AND YOU'S ARE HAVING A GREAT TIME, IF YOU EVER GET A CHANCE MY EMAIL IS lboos278@gmail.com.

TRAVEL SAFE AND HAVE A GREAT TIME, UP HERE IN ALBERTA CANADA IT IS AROUND -3C, WHICH BEATS -35C. WELL BACK TO WORK, HOPE TO CHAT TO YOU SOON
LEISA

Wester on

We"re starting a pool to see if you make it to 66!!! 6 days to go. At your current skill level I'll have a tough time getting anybody to bet you'll make it.
You're starting to worry me ol man. You don't heal as fast as you used to, amigo loco. We're thinking about you guys.

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