Friday, April 29, 2011

April 27, St george to cunnumulla was going to be my first 300+ km day.

April 27, St george to cunnumulla was going to be my first 300+ km day.

I probably should've gotten an earlier start but was rolling just after six. The sun wasn't up yet. The sky was brilliant in it's absence though. I crossed over a small dam on my way out of town. Already fine temperature for shorts and a T. I would be traveling due west on hwy49, adventue way, the outback, all day. That put the sun pretty much directly behind me till after lunch. I had a nice tailwind kick up that you only knew was there when you stopped. It eased me along. Seemed I was merely encouraging the bike to glide along at 30+ all day, not working for it. At about 120k, stopped in the small town of Bollon for lunch. Drank a 2l bottle of water, ate a chicken and salad sandwich ( truly, if you order this anywhere in OZ or NZ, you get a salad. Lettuce tomato, onion, beets, carrots etc) a real treat. I bought a plum, banana and an orange for later too.

On my way again, the road quickly changed, the solid shoulder lines and dotted center line disappeared. The grade got rougher which slowed me down a bit, and width narrower Very little traffic on it though. The amount of roadkill was amazing. I started seeing dead wild boar in abundance as well as kangaroo, emu, goat, snakes, dingo, uncountable varieties of birds, and a horse.

At 4pm, and 200kms, I stopped for dinner. I had the fruit I mentioned, a liter of Lemonade, and a can of libbys baked beans, cold. With a little over 100k still to go, I knew I'd be arriving in cunnamulla in the dark. With the amount of roadkill on an unmarked narrow road, I knew I'd be slowing down considerably after dark. The sun went down at 5:30, but it was still bright till 6 or so. After that, dusk. A bad time as shadows play across the road, the sky ahead is still brighter than close up surroundings, and bike lights are ineffectual except to alert vehicles of your presence. But it's bright enough to still make out the road well and as such tempting to hammer off as many k as possible before true dark sets in. I was at about 250k when Suddenly, I mean I didn't even see him jump in front of me. Suddenly a mid size kangaroo was right in front of me. I didn't have time to break. I hit him head on. The bike fell hard and fast to the right. The kangaroo being pushed along by me acted as a break and we only slid for maybe 10 feet. He scrambled up and hopped away with me cursing him from the ground. I knew before assessing anything that this wasn't going to be good.

Right away I saw that my right pinky was pointing off on a very unnatural angle and bleeding badly. My forearm was bleeding too. My feet and legs seemed fine as did hip etc. Surprisingly, the bike was fine too. So...just this finger... It hurt but not as much as it looked like it should. Figured I was in a bit of shock maybe. All I felt was anger actually and at myself mostly. Suddenly, I started wondering what nocturnal animals might be atracted to the smell of fresh blood and decided to get riding. This was tough to do under the circumstances and took a bit of practice. After maybe 20 minutes I spotted oncoming lights. When a road is flat and straight forever, it takes that long for the vehicle to finally get close. Forever. At last it was close enough for me to get off and flag it down.

3 blokes heading back towards St George in a pickup loaded with outback gear said they'd give me a lift to Bollon. Bollon was that small town I had lunch in so many hours ago. I so wanted to just cave and let someone take over. These guys seemed friendly enough and wanted to help but weren't going back to cunnamulla. I thanked them, but said I was going to keep riding. This impressed them some. I'd already shown them my hand by then semi dried blood was everywhere. Legs, shirt, face... They all got out of the truck and came around to see the bike and my state. They were drinking and offered me a beer. I accepted. They offered rum too but I declined. We all stood around shooting the breeze like best buddies. I have to admit to feeling a certain sort of bond with them. Maybe I just didn't want to see them drive off. Anyway, I finished my beer and thought I'd best be on my way. They promised to alert the cunnamulla police as soon as they got cell service.

Suddenly, I was alone again. I rode for awhile, hand beginning to throb a bit. Rode for awhile more. It was a beautiful starlit night but I was very focused on not riding into any more animals. Dead or alive. I saw lots of both. A cars lights appeared in my rearview mirrors, I stopped and waited. Finally they were beside me. I could see right away they had no room for a bike so just showed them my hand and asked them to send help when they got into cell range.

I rode some more. Realized that I lost my buff. For some reason, at the time, this seemed the most terrible of things to have happened. All the rest I could accept but was totally broken at the thought of having lost the buff. Funny huh, I'm over it now:). Sure was a nice one though.

I rode some more. Slowly to be sure, but determined to get there on my own steam if I had to. At 275kms I could see dim light on the horizon. The tell tail sign that promised to become headlights soon.

Just after 8pm, 2 very nice cops and myself jockeyed my bike into the back of the police vehicle and we headed to the cunnamulla hospital. Like myself, they both thought the finger was fractured maybe in two places. With all the blood it did look grim. They said if it needed surgery, I'd have to be flown out. I was fearing the worst now. Could this be the end of my ride? Could I maybe convince the doc to just do the best he could and send me on my way...if bad, I'd deal with it when back home?

We talked about the ride, my attempt at the GWR, cunnamulla, motels, etc. When we got to the hospital they insisted having pictures taken with me standing in front of the police vehicle and holding up my hand. They came in with me and stayed awhile. We exchanged email addresses, mostly so I could send them the pics, and said so long.

The young intern.. I forget his name already.. S something, was really good at his job and very friendly. His family is all back in Brisbane and I felt he really missed them. He cleaned me up and took down all my info. He said to me... You seem to be taking this well, it must hurt more than you are letting on. I said it hurt but i was still waiting for the real pain to kick in. Peter, the X-ray tech, was there and he too was very friendly. We talked quite a bit. The doctor had been called and was on his way.

When he got there, he injected a nerve block on either side of my pinky which felt like how an inner tube must feel when pumped up to 120psi. Soon everything was numb. 3 X-rays were taken... I held my breath waiting to hear the results.

To my, and everyones amazement, it seemed to just be a bad dislocation.
You can imagine my relief. I could've cried.

Peter stood behind me. I sat in a chair and was held by Peter while John the doctor manipulated the unit back in place. I heard a pop and had to smile.

3 more X-rays indicated success but as my pinky still wanted to point off on it's own it had to be splinted to my second finger.

By now it must've been 10:30 or so. There was a red cross unit set up on property that was used as an overnighter for visiting family of patients etc. Peter walked me over and said goodnight.

I'd been txting Jess, letting her know how it was going but hadn't been thinking about how early in the morning it was back home.

Finally, everyone got to go to sleep.

I had to get a quick checkup and pay my bill in the morning. Said good bye to everyone and was on my way.

I'm not sure, but I think I might be the only guy on a push bike to collide with a kangaroo and need a police escort to medical attention. I think it was probably pretty amusing for everyone. I sure enjoyed the friendly, personal treatment.

I got a late start leaving town. Heading south towards New South Wales I was into a strong headwind all day. Whereas yesterday I felt I was coaxing the bike along, today it felt like I was forcing the bike forward through jello. Dusk came again, the wind died down. It got dark. There was a fence on either side of the road and no roadkill. I stayed on the centerline and arrived in Enngonia around 7:30 and 165k. I had a huge Tbone steak loaded with salad and veggies. Just might be the best meal of the trip do far.

Bruce Gordon

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