Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Laguna Verde 2

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Sunday, November 05, 2006

A few months ago I returned to Laguna Verde, to ride those trails with Francisco again.

Bright sun, cool breeze. I arrived rather early, because I had things to do that afternoon.

After riding between pine trees and their perfumed shade, we reached a clearing, and off to one side, straight up the side of the hill, a fire trail. "So Francisco, think you can manage that?" I said, not serious. He looked at it for a few seconds, nodded, and shot up it.

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Time to see if I could. I had several kilos on the rack. It was hard to keep a straight line: every little rut made my front wheel go all over the place.

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The first time I tried, I lost my balance, and fell over to my left. Sweating and with Francisco's help, we turned the bike around and I tried again.

The second attempt, I veered off to my left, and was thrown off the bike by a fallen pine branch. It hit my chest end-on, like a medieval joust, Laguna Verde vs Santiago. Laguna Verde won.

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My leather jacket did its job, and the thick cowskin even spared me a bruise.

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It goes without saying that I let the pine branch keep its steep path. See if I care.

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On we went, next stop: the park ranger's tower.

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Large, tall, it swayed a bit in the breeze. Some of the rickety staircase's steps were broken, others would surely break in a few years.

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We came down again, and rode over to the Morro de Quintay, same as last time. That dot on the right is Francisco. I took the photo from a small group of pine trees, all of them clinging to the morro for dear life in the howling sea wind.

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Wind, wind. 50 metres from the trees, and I could still hear the moan and whistle of the wind through the branches.

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Wind, warm sun, cool air.

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And on we went. During the rainy season the roads had deteriorated, as is normal here, and suffered a great deal of erosion. And those ruts and gulleys would attract my front wheel like magnets. In this case, it was the back wheel, up to the rear sprocket. Nice.

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Francisco always managed to avoid trouble, and I would inevitably fall into a ditch. He'd have to turn around and come back, and help me get the bike out. And so on.

At one point we came across a pine tree that had fallen across the road. It took us 15 minutes of sweaty heaving, but we managed to move it.

Coming back on the road that joins the town of Laguna Verde, on the beachfront, with the Ruta 68, something unexpected happened. It was a winding, narrow dirt road that cugged the steep hillside as it climbed. Francisco was ahead, and coming around a left turn, with the hill on our left, he met a car head on, coming out of the shade. The car braked, and even had time to sound its horn, but Francisco hit it head on. His AX-1's front suspension compressed, and while the front wheel went backwards from the recoil off the car's bumper, the back wheel rose into the air. Francisco was thrown up and to the side, and landed beside the bike. The driver got out, Francisco seemed to be ok. We knelt around him. No one said anything. The driver took his hand, and held it for a while, in silence.

The brake pedal had been bent, a passenger foot peg was broken and he had a cut between his index finger and thumb that no one could figure out how it had happened.

We reached the Ruta 68, and said goodbye. I carried on to Viña: there were things I had yet to do, and the rest of the day was quite pleasant.

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There was a halo around the moon, and a plane's contrail was blown slowly across it, from one side to the other, so quickly that in the 15 seconds that it took to expose the photo, the contrail's movement resulted in it being blurry.

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And after that, I headed back home.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous Mike Werner said...

Lucky man !! That's incredible riding territory! Just for that I should return....

12:34 PM  
Blogger mrsnesbitt said...

Good to hear you were wearing your leather jacket! Makes us cringe when we see bikers in t-shirts & jeans!

9:43 AM  
Blogger durandal said...

I cringe as well!

But what's worse: those who wear black potties on their head, just for looks. You see a lot of those around here.

d.

9:46 AM  

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