I’m back… I know it has been a while my dear readers, but believe you me I do have a valid reason for my near three month writing hiatus. I generally do not like to ride much outdoors in the winter, at least in the USA. However, I had built up some frequent flyer miles over the years and decided to cash them in for a late February riding trip to Fiji. Naturally, my trusty two wheeled steed flew with me. As many of you already know I have been riding my Cannondale Road Warrior 700 off and on for the last 15 years. That all ended on a blistering hot March morning in Suva.
I felt pretty secure having checked my bike with the skycap when I reached the Jacksonville airport. In fact, I tipped him a few $2 bills that I had stashed away in my glove compartment so he would take extra good care of it. Whether it had been the skycap’s fault or not, as I would find out later, those 2’s were not put to any sort of good use.
The morning of March 2nd I woke up in the capital city of Fiji feeling great. I took a couple of days to recover from the jet lag before I decided to do any significant riding. I ate and then took a 70 minute bus ride to the top of Viti Levu for a ride down the south eastern side of the mountain. After I unloaded my bike I did all my standard checks to make sure everything was kosher before making my beautiful descent. Everything felt good, nothing seemed out of the ordinary, so I grabbed my I-pod, put in my ear buds and cranked up the “Expect To Hear From Me Again” album by one of my favorite artists Paul Bogush Jr.
I was about 12 miles into the descent when the unthinkable happened. I was about halfway through the song “Me” when I started to feel a sort of cracking, or giving away of the bike from beneath me. I quickly glanced down and noticed that the top of my frame had cracked completely in half. This was alarming, due to the fact that I was travelling at 55 mph and was in no position to make a complete stop. I did not panic. I slowly applied my front brake, this slowed me down somewhat, but at the same time it also allowed for the frame to shift and completely break off in the front. I shit you not readers; the moment that the top of my frame and handle bars broke off I thought I was dead as disco. At approximately 45 mph I went over the top of my Cannondale and flew into the offroad vegetation and down an 85 foot embankment. When I came to, after what I was told was a 12 minute lapse of consciousness, I rolled over and realized that where I had landed was actually a ledge of a cliff. If I had gone an extra 5 feet I would have dropped 3, 450 feet to the next available landing space.
I ended up in the hospital in Suva with a broken collarbone, punctured lung and a laceration to my kidney. It should go without saying that I did not make my scheduled flight back to Jacksonville. During my stay I often thought about what caused my frame to crack the way that it did. It could have been the laser cutting that was used to manufacture the frame, or else the the years of use and turbulence from the flight could have affected the integrity of the metal fabrication within the frame. All in all it took about a fort night for them to release me from the hospital. I have been home for about a month and half now and am still recovering, but sooooo thankful to be alive. That was my closest experience yet.
As for the whereabouts of my Cannondale and I-pod, they were never recovered from the crash site. They now reside in the jungle canopies of Fiji, or maybe a local kid found the frame and welded it back together while listening to Paul Bogush’s best song “Star Story.” I guess one can only dream.
The above picture was taken by a local and depicts where I would have gone if I had rolled five feet further.