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Great friends and broken bones…..

I can feel my right hand getting warm, almost like warm water is dripping down my arm towards my hand. As I look down I just see blood, lots of blood.

My whole forearm and hand is absolutely covered in blood and the blood is dripping on the floor! I look at the nurse and ask her what the hell is she doing, she gives me that glazed over look and just say “Eish…..” How I got myself into this predicament is a story all on its own. A wonderful, memorable ride through Lesotho ended up with me in a hospital bed in Bethlehem, in the Eastern Freestate! Let’s rewind a day or so…

 

It was time again for the Freestate Bash, organized by the Wilddog forum. The bash, same as last year was held in Fouriesburg. I met up with Sias and Corlia in Pretoria and we hit the road towards the Freestate. We took some a spectacular dirt roads from Kestell and joined up on the eastern side of Golden Gate. A quick run through Golden Gate got us to Clarens, and we wasted no time in getting to the famous Clarens Brewery. Jolandi would leave later the afternoon and joined up with us at the camp site in Fouriesburg.

Sias and Corlia loving life on the Dakar just north of Golden Gate

 

The S22 is a dirt road that leads from Kestell to Golden Gate, it is one of my favorite roads

 

LOVE this road!

 

Jolandi made her way down to the bash later that afternoon

 

The Freestate views on the way to Fouriesburg

 

We were five people leaving from Fouriesburg early morning with our eyes set on the Caledonspoort border post into Lesotho. I was on my 800GS, Jolandi on her X-Challenge, Maxine on her KLR and last but certainly not least were Sias and Corlia on their Dakar. Border formalities were done and dusted in a few minutes and we were on our way to tackle the awesome Monontsha Road towards Qwa-Qwa. I did this road a year earlier on my X-Challenge during my solo Lesotho Trip. I wanted to share it with great friends and I really loved this road so much!

 

Quick stop as soon as we hit the first dirt

 

Typical Lesotho riding through local villages where people just go about their daily tasks

 

Jolandi having fun on the BMX!

 

Maxine on the KLR, what a backdrop to be ring a bike!

 

Water crossings was a regular occurrence!

 

Jolandi crossing yet another little stream

 

Maxine looking good on the KLR!

 

Everything went smooth and the riding was brilliant. The surface was great, the weather was perfect, and the scenery was mind blowing beautiful and of course the people of Lesotho as friendly as ever! The best of all was the company on this ride. After a few bends I felt my front wheel moving around all over the place and as I looked down I saw that I had a flat front tire. Luckily I knew of a shabeen close by and we pulled into the parking area for repairs and of course beer! Sias and I got working on the tire. Corlia was in charge of organizing the beer. Jolandi was off with her camera capturing some shots. It was a very relaxed tire change I must admit!

Shabeen (and tire fix) time!

 

Getting to work on sorting the puncture out

 

Fixing a flat tire is hard and thirsty work!

 

We had our very own audience watching this whole episode going down!

 

We eventually got going again, not really wanting to leave our beer drinking spot under a big tree, but hey, we still needed to do some riding! We got to the Monontsha Pass where there is no Lesotho Border Post, only a South African one at the top of the pass. The pass was being re built and we had no issues going up and no issues getting back into South Africa.

The border between South Africa and Lesotho

 

Another pic of the Caledon River serving as the border

 

You will be hard pressed to find better riding than what Lesotho offers

 

See what I mean, Lesotho is just something else!

 

Blasting my way up Monontsha Pass on the 800GS

 

Sias and Corlia sharing the love!

 

Jolandi is gifted with the ability to take some absolutely beautiful photos…… I just love this pic so much!

 

Next up was a little short cut that I know about. This would avoid having to ride through the hectically busy Qwa-Qwa and would see us joining up with the Golden Gate road again. The Heuweltop track is a lot of fun to ride, but can get a bit hectic, especially if it had been raining and the ground is wet. It passes over a vast flat grass land and it can turn very muddy and swampy if very wet. We had few mud puddles but nothing to get stressed about.

 

The vast open grass lands on the Heuweltop track

 

Truly a beautiful place

 

This is one of my favorite photos ever…. Happy days! Corlia, Sias, Jolandi, myself and Maxine

 

We joined up with the Golden Gate road and we headed to Clarens for a lunch and beer stop before heading back to Fouriesburg. This is where things went a bit south for me….. As I entered Clarens, my front wheel washed out and I hit the tar like a big sack of potatoes. I knew instantly that my collarbone was broken. It is one of those things that you just know immediately! It hurt like hell! Sias picked up my bike, moved it out of the way and called for an ambulance. It was not too long before the medics arrived and they gave me some pain meds. I had a bit of an argument with the paramedic who wanted to cut my BMW Boulder Jacket so that he could have a look at my collarbone. I said “Hell Noooo”! That jacket cost a shit load of money and there is no way he is cutting it! I said I will deal with the pain and we removed my jacket normally. He did have to cut the straps of my camelback to get it off, but that is not the end of the world. Corlia and I bummed a ride in the ambulance to hospital in Bethlehem, while the others made their way back to Fouriesburg.

My last pic before I went down. This is the Brandwag Rock in Golden Gate

 

I ended up with five broken ribs and a badly broken collarbone, all on my left side. I must admit a broken collarbone is not all that sore, just very uncomfortable, but RIBS…… Hell, they are not nice when they are broken! I spent the rest of the afternoon and the night in hospital. Bored out of my mind and getting more and more irritated by the incompetent staff who could not fit a drip. This is why my arm was covered in blood as she was fiddling and pushing and prodding trying to get the drip in. I chased her away and then some other nurse got the drip up. I was not a happy camper by this stage!

 

My morning was made when I saw Jolandi, Sias and Corlia waltz into the hospital ward on their way back to Pretoria. I was so happy to see them! We talked nonsense for a while and they said that Marnus (with who I did the Eastern Cape Trip with) was on his way to come and fetch me. I could not believe it! I am so blessed to have friends like this who would drive all that way to come and fetch me. They also arranged for one of the Wilddogs to load up my bike and take it back to Gauteng on a trailer. I was very thankful, and happy!

 

My loaded bike on the way back to Gauteng

 

Jolandi insisted on a pic just to prove that I was ok, and that it was not so serious!

 

We arrived back at my house on Sunday afternoon. I called my boss and informed them that I was a bit broken and that I would need a couple of days off work. Monday morning I realized that I would probably have to go to the hospital and have someone look at my broken bones. But who could take me? Everyone was at work, so I decided I will just drive myself…. Changing gears without being able to use your left hand made for an interesting drive, so did getting in and out of the car with five broken ribs! Made it to hospital, got x-rayed, saw a doctor and got referred to an Orthopedic Surgeon. The doctor on duty said that I would certainly have to get some screws drilled into my collarbone as it was a pretty nasty break. Saw the Orthopedic Surgeon and he said, yup, screws are needed to hold this thing together…. I sighed…. Then he asked if I would mind having the bone crooked for the rest of my life. He saw from the x-rays that the bone had already stared to grow back and filling the gap left where the bone broke. Natural healing will take a bit longer, but the bone will be much stronger that it could ever be when held together with hardware. I opted for no screws and a crooked collarbone…. Today I still like my crooked collarbone!

Broken bones…..

 

As usual, please have a look at the interactive map below showing the Monontsha Road, Heuweltop and Golden Gate

[map style=”width: auto; height:400px; margin:20px 0px 20px 0px; border: 1px solid black;” kml=”http://www.etiennexplore.com/wp-content/uploads/2011BASH.kml”]

Again, I want to send out a HUGE thank you to my riding buddies for all the help and assistance, to Sias for sorting my bike, to Corlia for riding with me in the ambualnce, to Jolandi for her epic photos (most of the pics in the post btw….) and to Marnus for fetching me! You guys rock!

 

Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment and/or share this blog via one of the buttons below!

 

Cheers,
Etienne

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