When everything went south…

Monday 5.1.2015

Departure: 06:00
Time on special:

Wake-up at 05:00, breakfast, gear on and head for the short transport, which takes me up a hill. At the start I get held up, because my Iritrack is not functioning properly. We sort the problem out, but I get a late start because of that. After my start, I am able to pass a few riders, but I take it easy and avoid taking any stupid risks or riding in the dust. The trail zigzags along the mountain and the wind is strong and I have to take care in order to keep the bike straight in the wind. As the trail descends down the temperature also rises and the terrain becomes more desert like. At the first refueling point there is a queue and I barely make the refueling during the 15min obligatory break. I try to eat and drink while I wait for my turn. After the refuel I´m stuck in dust a lot, but navigation is easy and there are people in every intersection indicating the turn. At the second refueling I have managed to pass a couple riders, and there is time to eat an energy bar. After the second refueling at about km 400 I hit an area where there is feshfesh which turns into deep ruts with feshfesh on top. At this point the faster cars catch up and pass me, followed by a thick cloud of dust, which caused the visibility do drop to zero and I have to stop. I try to ride slow and careful, but I keep falling over every 500 m and I realize this strategy does not work. So I decide to try and ride beside the track, which is full with bushes and I get stuck in the bush, so I decide to abandon that tactic as well. I pick up the pace and riding faster keeps the bike stabilized and I feel things are progressing well. However I suddenly realize I´ve lost the frontend and hit the ground hard. As I get up I hear a car approaching fast, so I dash into the bush. But when the car sees my bike they turn into same bush and I prepare for impact. Miraculously the car is able to stop before it hits me and I start to think about the real dangers of the rally. The car drives away, through the bushes and I pick up the bike. I feel my thumb has been dislocated and feel bone particles moving around. I manage to put the finger back in place but it feels quite painful and there is little force to squeeze the handlebars. I think about my options and realize that finishing the rally with a bust thumb is highly unlikely. I ride the bike into the bush, so it´s not in the way and notice that my existence has just become a survival fight, since it is extremely warm and the risk for heat exhaustion is imminent. I scream out from the top of my lungs and hit the seat with all my strength as I realize that all of my hard work and a shitload of money has just gone down the drain. Then I call the race center and start to wait for the evacuation. I drink all of my water and have to resort to the emergency water on the bike, but when the helicopter comes to pick me up, I still feel ok.

The helicopter takes me back to the last refueling point, where they tell me that the stage has been closed and arriving competitors are guided straight to the bivouac.

I get a 3 hour ride in an ambulance to the bivouac, where they take an x-ray of the finger and tell me that I probably need surgery. I accompany the service team to the next bivouac in the service car and meet up with some familiar mechanics to tell about my withdrawal. The next day the organizer fixes a flight back to Buenos Aires from La Rioja and I fly home the day after.