He was very friendly and interested in our journey. He told us he had met a Canadian biker just two days earlier. We told him we knew the person whose name was Edward and he had been with us for a while.
Our first dilapidated bridge crossing of the day turned out to be the hardest we have yet had to undertake. At the exit of the bridge the structure had collapsed leaving a large gap, but it was possible to come off the bridge sideways and carefully manhandle the bikes through the trees and back onto the track.
Frank had a bad day today he came off quite badly twice.
The first time we were riding along the side of the railway, and the track turned into a steep vee shape with big rough boulders lodged in the middle. He caught one of the boulders and it twisted the bike sideways and threw him off. Unfortunately the only place get could land was on the rough boulders, and he badly bruised his right femur.
The second time was when we were descending a steep section and there were large undulations where the ground had been water cut and with boulders all around. His front tyre slipped into one of these ruts and again it had him off. This time it was more his pride that was hurt than his body.
We are being navigated by Paul and a Dave who have mapping for the BAM road on their sat-navs, and sometimes the sat-nav's take us along the original BAM road and not along the railway support track that is used by locals. On one such occasioned we were taken up and over a mountain pass that nobody had used for a very long time. Now as well as very difficult ascents and descents on rutted, boulder strewn tracks we also had to contend with overgrown vegetation that wanted to knock you off your bike at every other turn.
This is the toughest track we have had to ride so far!
Today we undertook our first solo railway bridge crossing. We arrived at the bridge and with no bridge guard present we had to work out for ourselves how to cross without getting caught halfway across the bridge when a train comes.
Firstly those with panniers that restrict their progress across the bridge removed them and carried them across by hand. Then scouts were sent ahead and behind to get as good a view as possible of the rail tracks in each direction. If there are rail lights these can be in condition of either, green, amber or red, and as we approached this particular bridge the lights in one direction turned from red to green. The train took about 10 mins to arrive, and as it passed the lights they turned first straight back to red, and then to either amber or no light.
We next set up a signalling system indicating whether a train was coming, and if all clear a biker makes the dash across the bridge. In saying dash in reality it takes a good 5-10 minutes to paddle yourself across a typical bridge, and your adrenalin levels are high throughout the crossing. There are safety alcoves about every 30-40 metres along the walkway, but these would only just squeeze a bike into them!
At the end of the day we came to a large uncrossable river with a totally collapsed and washed away bridge, and decided to camp on the remnant of the entry road to the bridge.
This was a other hard day with countless "offs" as we battled with river crossings and steep rough tracks. Added to the discomfort is the fact that you have permanently wet feet from undertaking river crossings that are deeper than the height of your motorbike boots. Putting the cold wet boots on in the morning is horrible.
Geoff reckons he is now well over twenty bike down incidents for the trip to date!
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