I felt quite certain there were a few small patches of clear sky up there.
Yup, no doubt. A few rips of blueness among the black clouds that had been unloading rain all morning. From a prone position on my back, helmet nestled comfortably on a slight mound of mud, I had a perfect view for admiring the heavens.
By my best estimate, I’d now been stuck underneath the bike for about 45 minutes. I couldn’t see the GPS clock for confirmation, but having loped around on a football (futbol) pitch for the entirety of my life, I’ve a strong sense of what 45 minutes feels like. Not including stoppage time, of course.
Most of the weight of the Suzuki was fully resting on my chest and lower limbs. My right knee was throbbing; it had been throbbing ever since it was twisted unnaturally as I’d clumsily fallen over and onto these mud and grass-covered boulders, my right boot trapped beneath the bike’s frame and a pair of aforementioned large rocks. Fortunately, it wasn’t Broken Bone Pain- I knew that particular Pain rather well from a misspent lifetime of fragmented limbs, my tibia being the most serious of the lot. No, this felt distinctly like Torn Ligament Knee Pain, such was my professional diagnosis as I relaxed in the sludge. Eager to be included, my left wrist chimed in with a familiar tune: Slight Fracture Pain.
All that was secondary though, because I couldn’t get out from under the bike.
My prepped Suzuki DR-Z400 was not particularly heavy. In fact, at about 170 kilos fully loaded with gear, fuel, water and food, it was my somewhat self-important aspiration that it was the lightest fully laden bike to ever attempt the Sibirsky Extreme. From beneath its weight, I made a mental note to ask Walter about it.
Even though my chest was supporting much of the bike’s mass, the real issue was the lower frame rail that was resting on top of my Forma Dominator boot. To its credit, the boot was masterfully protecting my calf and ankle as the frame pinched the Forma against the rocks. The words of the Yankee salesman rang in my ears, “Wear as much boot as you’re willing to tolerate.” Yah, yah, okay, okay. He was right.
Its safety pedigree aside, on this particular day the Forma was also a bit of a prison. Between the weight of the bike on the boot, and my calf being trapped between the two rocks, my right leg couldn’t go anywhere.
And while the DR-Z’s bulk was playing a part in my entrapment, there was also the mud. Normally I’d just do a half lift/half push and get the bike away and off of me, simple as you please, but there was a problem. Rocks on the other side of the rear tire had wedged the bike in place, and when I tried to push off from behind me, there was nothing to brace against but sloppy, muddy goo. Meaning, there was nothing to brace against at all.
All of these conditions together translated to an unlucky, unlikely, unfortunate outcome: I was comedically trapped.
“Thank goodness I can’t reach my multi-tool,” I mused. “No temptation to saw off the leg.”
The sermons of my friends, the ones with petrified fear in their voices who’d incessantly cautioned against a solo expedition, were a distant but annoying static in my head. “They’re right only if I can’t get out of this,” I assured myself. “And I will get out of this.”
No denying though, I was in the true middle of nowhere, as it was with most stretches of this Sibex route. I wasn’t even on single track, this expanse had been pure bushwhacking for the last fifteen miles across sloppy, muddy Russian steppe. It’d been hours since I’d even seen double track. Now, lying here motionless next to my steed, waiting for Fletcher and the rest of the Union posse to ride by, I reckoned there was zero chance of being spotted, as if someone might happen to be in the vicinity anyway.
I looked up at an opening of blue sky. It was getting bigger.