A fractured toe brings back memories from Germany

At the moment I’m recovering from an in-house accident. I fractured my toe some weeks ago when unintentionally kicking the sofa. The human body is so fragile and really slow healing, quite frustrating that such a small part of the body can cause so much trouble. I have had to give up running, and any serious walking is not to think of. Work was a struggle the first weeks since I teach small children and have to move around a lot during the day to keep up with them. Fitting my biker boots on was impossible to begin with and it strongly reminded me of when I fractured my big toe falling at the Nürburgring four years ago.

Let’s take it from the beginning. My bike was stationed in Sweden back then and had spent a couple of vacations in Germany, the area of Eifel mountains, Adenau and the Nürburgring and I really liked it. This holiday started off a bit different – my friend Peter had gone ahead and was waiting in Adenau and I followed on my own a week later. He had a Yamaha that had been rebuilt, fixed and modified and had the look of a rat-bike. I was riding a shiny Ducati 620 Monster. I had changed bike the previous year; to stay out of trouble was the intention but it didn’t quite work out that way.

The previous year when everything seemed better...
The previous year when everything seemed better...

Taking the ferry from Gothenburg to Kiel left a journey of roughly 600km to be covered during a day ride on autobahn. I experienced some heavy rain but was doing fine until half way when the engine oil lamp lit up and I was lucky to be able to turn into a rest area. I checked the engine oil level, which is fine, but now the bike wouldn’t start. I started calling friends for advice. It is probably the electronics, let the bike dry up and then try. Well, since I was in a rest area with no shelter to find and while raining, that was asking for the impossible. So, dictionary in hand I started to ask people for “starthilfekabeln” jump start cables. The problem with the sudden impossibility of starting the bike I had experienced the previous summer. I found a man who was willing to help but he did look at me suspiciously, probably thinking it was a scam. “Where are your friends?” he asked… what friends?! It is just me, I reply. “Wow, you’re travel on your own, on a Ducati, you must be very brave”. Well I didn’t think of it that way, but I’ve heard it many times since then. Anyway, I got the bike started and could continue and finally meet with my friend in Adenau where the evening, as well as the previous days, was sunny and nice.

The following day, though, was rainy, but we got ready to tour the valley of Mosel. Just to see that I had a flat rear tyre. Peter set off to buy a bicycle pump and we were then able to fill the tyre enough to go to a garage and get the tyre changed. My credit cards proved to be useful. We spent the following days touring the area of Mosel and the Eifel mountains in rain and in the evening waiting for the rain to stop sufficiently for the Nürburgring to dry up. Nürburgring is, for those who don’t know, a very twisty bit of road that loops around like a circuit but is a public road, with single lane traffic, free speed and toll. It is not a track so traffic rules apply, it has special opening hours and can be closed due to bad weather conditions.

Yes, it did rain this much
Yes, it did rain this much

The third evening the sky clears up, the road dries up and they open the ‘ring. I’m eager to go. Last year, I had have such a good time riding and really enjoyed myself. Now I go very carefully, there are still wet patches and the tarmac can be slippery in areas of hard braking due to rubber being laid down. Since I am aware of this I go slow and when getting to a sharp corner I decide to brake a bit more to be on the safe side. Unfortunately, that resulted in a lowside and in the fall I banged my foot, toe first in the tarmac and fall over to the left. When on the ground I realise how fast the traffic is passing me, not caring I’m down but racing on not to spoil a precious paid lap. I know from friends that to get towed on the ‘ring is crazily expensive so with all my might I manage dto get the bike in the upright position and tried to get it going. Unfortunately, the gear pedal was twisted and I had to continue the remaining lap in 2nd gear, keeping far right while cars and bikes blast past me.

When getting off the track I got medical assistance since my foot was throbbing. When taking off my boot I see my big toe looks ugly and it is swelling up. Too late to put the boot back on and then I got the question, “We can call an ambulance, but what kind of insurance do you have?” Fortunately, I had the European health card with me and could afford an ambulance to take me to the hospital. The service is amazing. In Sweden this would take the whole day and night but in Adenau I passed through within 2 hours even though they didn’t want to take me in because they were full and apologised for letting me wait. Fully X-rayed, toe securely taped and equipped with painkillers I could leave the hospital. Peter was taking me as a passenger on my broken Ducati, since his bike had a single saddle. The following day was spent trying to find parts to make the bike ridable for me. The garage was quite surprised to see me back again so soon, but they were most helpful. A new handlebar was needed and the indicator was broken. Unfortunately, the indicator couldn’t be fixed so for the return home as well as the rest of the summer I kept putting my left hand out to indicate every turn, it does work, but gave me a sore shoulder that healed over winter. For the gear shift I developed a new technique and shifted with my heel instead of the fractured toe which works fine when riding a leisurely phase.

Neatly taped but not able to shift gear
Neatly taped but not able to shift gear

You would think that these would be enough incidents for one vacation but it wasn’t. When travelling back to Kiel on the autobahn my engine oil lamp kept lighting up whenever a rain shower hit us. Strongly suspecting it to be a rain indicator, I couldn’t just ignore it but had to check every single time, not to risk actually lacking oil pressure. All the breaks seriously slowed us down and put us behind schedule.

When the rain finally cleared up and we strode along peacefully on the autobahn I suddenly saw Peters silencer slowly approaching the ground. I managed to make a wild overtaking and indicate to turn off. We get off the road and into a rest area at the same time as the silencer fell to the ground and sent sparks after us. Fortunately, Peter is skilled in the art of fixing and with the help of metal thread and simple tools the exhaust system is strapped back on again. But all this had made us behind schedule and with only minutes to spare we entered the ferry and could relax.

Tying the silencer back on again with some steel thread
Tying the silencer back on again with some steel thread

The next morning we were awakened in our cabin by the cleaning staff. The radio was out of order and no wake up call was heard so we had overslept. We hurried down to pack our bikes and leave, only to get informed that the boat was closed and would open again in the afternoon. I almost cried when I heard this, being both in pain and exhausted by the last days events. Fortunately a bit of pleading helps us leaving the ship and I can ride the last kilometres home. The next day, I left my Ducati for maintenance, which caused a new series of events… but that is another story indeed.

If you’re interested in the previous year, Peter tells the story on the forum Sporthoj:
http://www.sporthoj.com/forum/showthread.php?t=128319

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Åsa

I'm a passionate biker from Sweden. I love to travel, preferably on my motorcycle. Please let me know what you think of my blog! Post a comment or send an e-mail: asa@forza.greynorth.net

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