Motorcycle Adventure Riding: Not For the Faint of Heart

By Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times

Motorcycling can be a dangerous activity. Adventure riding is a little more so.

I should know. After more than 40 years of off-road motorcycling without a serious injury or broken bone, I went down hard in the desert this spring — and couldn’t get up.

The fall occurred halfway through an all-day ride organized by Jeremy LeBreton and his AltRider team in Pahrump, Nev. The “Taste of Dakar” ride was meant to introduce adventure riders to the greatest adventure ride of them all, the Dakar Rally off-road race that happens annually in South America.

The weekend started promisingly. I rode part of Friday, getting accustomed to a BMW F800GS that the tour and motorcycle rental company MotoQuest had provided.

But Saturday morning, things turned bad. An hour into the ride, I hit a ditch that had been hiding under a bush. I went over the handlebars in classic “Flying W” form and came up with a tweaked neck, abrasions on my left side and a fair amount of skin removed from my left wrist.

I rode on. An hour later, going about 25 miles an hour up a slight grade dotted with grapefruit-sized rocks, the front end of the bike washed out and I went over — again on my left side. It was clear to me on impact that I was no longer whole.

Dakar veteran Simon Pavey saw the fall and was at my side. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“I’m afraid not,” I said, pointing at my shoulder.

LeBreton was able to call for a truck to help get me to a hospital. But we were several miles from any navigable road, and it was clear I couldn’t ride without doing more damage to myself. So LeBreton and a couple of other riders went off in search of someone else that could get me off the trail.

An hour later, a couple of rock hounds in a Jeep came up the canyon below us. They offered to carry me to the road to meet the truck.

It was almost six hours from the fall to the ER. A doctor confirmed the broken collarbone, gave me pain medication and told me to try to get back to Los Angeles and see a surgeon.

One surgery, one titanium plate, eight screws and four months later, I had recovered enough to go adventure riding again.

I was lucky. Had the fall involved a head injury, or a compound fracture, or internal injuries, I would have required a helicopter evacuation and might not have made it.

As LeBreton said: “You really got a taste of Dakar.”


(Via: LA Times)