Pilot Error

Posted by on July 25, 2013

On July 18th, many things happened. Many important things: friends had babies, other friends moved to foreign countries and, by far not the least important, at around 8:30PM, Central European Time, my mom asked my dad if he had any news from me because she was worried.

On July 18th, I woke up tired (1). I hadn’t slept well for no particular reason and the sun woke me up through the windows of my room in the basic but acceptable Hotel Pacífico 2 in Choluteca, Honduras. I went for a local breakfast of “baleadas” on the main street and had a lot of fun when the breakfast lady started telling other customers that I was going to “put a baby in her” so that he would have my blue eyes and blonde hair. She was joking though. Passing by the Wendy’s at the corner, I checked the internet, the hotel didn’t provide any wi-fi. At 9 I was ready to leave on my way to Santa Rosa de Copán and so I did. A bit later on the road, a bee got stuck on the bracelet I was still wearing from the Masaya National Park in Nicaragua and stung me (2).

Drive-thru ATM

They have drive-thru ATMs in Honduras!

At around half-past eleven, I was riding the outskirts of Tegucigalpa and decided to get into town to look for an ATM, I was low on local currency and my stop for the night may or may not be in a small town. While I was at it, I thought of having lunch and I did (3). and I took the chance to use the free internet at the restaurant.

With a full belly, at around 12:30PM Honduran time, I set off again, determined to get to Santa Rosa de Copán, a bit of an ambitious goal but I would cross into El Salvador from there. Just wondering how many hours I would have to ride to get there, I looked down to the GPS screen (4) and when I looked up I realised that the Honduran police had put some cones on the road for people to slow down (5). On a curve!!! I’m not trying to blame them for this but, who puts cones in the middle of a fast bypass on a frickin’ curve! I freaked out and instead of swerving or deciding that fuck the cones and I would ride over (or in between) them, I pulled the break, very hard (6).

The next thing I remember is to be skidding on the ground, with my right legged pressed down against the asphalt by the bike and my right hand rubbing the ground too, both in great pain. Somehow, I was separated from the bike and I stopped, the bike continued for a few more meters. I got up, checked the landscape and sat on the kerb while the police and some soldiers gathered the contents of my map pouch that were scattered on the road. I seemed to be alright, I asked one of the cops to tell me if I was bleeding anywhere around my face and since he said no and I was conscious, I removed my helmet and started checking the rest of my body and bike.

Right after

Right after

I had a big scratch on my leg and a smaller one on my arm, a blister was forming in my hand. I asked them to help me pick up the bike and where was the closest hospital.

They helped me

They helped me

I rode to the Hospital Militar a few blocks away and got my wounds cleaned, an antibiotic and some other stuff injected and was released with instructions on meds to take and things to wear. I followed most of it and stayed in Tegucigalpa for 2 nights to kickstart my recovery. Now I am in Antigua Guatemala, resting and trying to fix the bike.

I read somewhere that for a catastrophe to happen, there has to be concourse of 7 bad or unusual little accidents. Until today, I had only identified 6 of them:

  1. I woke up tired
  2. A bee stung me on my right wrist
  3. I had lunch (I almost never do when I ride)
  4. I was looking down at the GPS screen
  5. The police put cones in a curve on the road
  6. I pulled the brake while my front wheel was not straight

With José, my uncle's friend

With José, my uncle’s friend

I suspected what the 7th cause was but I wasn’t sure. Today I went to a Honda garage where are friend of my uncle Lucas works and had the bike looked at. After finding out that the right fork arm is bent, we ended up changing that front wheel bearings, they were due for a change, the axle being a bit loose and one of the bearings not turning properly.

There you are:

  1. The front wheel bearings needed changing

7 little accidents that got together to cause the big one. 3, 4, and 6, can be considered pilot error. Maybe also 7, since the pilot is also the usual maintainer.

Checking the fork

Checking the fork

Of course, if I am writing this it’s because I am alright, just a bit bruised so you needn’t worry and ask me if I’m alright. I appreciate attention but not repetition.

Oh, and the bike has not windscreen anymore.

Sunset over La Antigua

Sunset over La Antigua

PS: 12:30PM Honduran time is the same time as 8:30PM Central European Time.

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