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:

R.I.P. Super Sic

As previous weekends, this Sunday morning was scheduled for early morning races and as usual my fiance and I were prepared with our podium predictions and piled up in bed with lots of coffee. Today, though, I wished that I had slept in because of what happened on lap 2 in the Moto GP category was one of the worst things I have ever seen. Marco Simoncelli suffers from a low side and starts to slide off the track, then the tyres regain grip and the bike travels back across the track, with Simoncelli still attached to it. Colin Edwards and Valentino Rossi, who are coming up alongside after the corner, have no possibility to avoid what is happening but run into him. When I see that Simoncelli’s helmet has come off and he is lying on the track, not moving, I know that something really bad has happened. When, later on, I see his bike and the lack of sufficient damage on it I know for sure that he is not going to make it. Edwards had actually run into Simoncelli and not his bike, Rossi not being able to avoid it touched his helmet when passing by, and makes it come loose. No one walks away from a crash like that. After what seems like a very long time, it is confirmed that he passed away.

Racing, as I prefer to remember Simoncelli. Photo: Christopher Calvert
Racing, as I prefer to remember Simoncelli. Photo: Christopher Calvert

In a way, we are spoiled with what we usually see. The riders of Moto GP as well as the lower categories, can suffer from violent crashes but they get up and walk away, or even chase after their bike and continue the race. I think, sometimes, we forget that they are human and that their bodies are just as fragile as ours.

Simoncelli was never one of my favorites. In fact I thought quite bad of him in the beginning of the season and the previous years. He was so brutal and took unecessary risks. But, lately, he had matured and his riding was much more smooth and consistent. I did start to like him and put faith in his results. He semed to be one of the riders who could challenge for the World Title next year. And, in fact, I had predicted him on the podium for this race. The accident today ended Simoncelli’s succesful career too soon, way too soon.

I wish that I hadn’t seen any of this. But since I did, I can’t help searching for more and more information to further analyse what has happened. What is reported in newspapers and websites. What do people write on forums. I share with you some of what I found during the day.

Marco Simoncellis own web site:

A couple of the open forums I read, the Ducatistas and Sporthoj has memorial theads:


The official Moto GP website where you can leave a tribute to Marco Simoncelli and his familly :

Some newsreports:




An obituary of Simoncellis career on autosport.com:

We lost a future world champion today. What I saw I can never forget, but life has to go on.

My thoughts are with his familly and friends. Rest In Peace Marco Simoncelli!

the Ducatistas

Last Thursday I finally pulled myself together and went for a “desmocaña” with the Ducatistas in Madrid. Actually, it was not just a beer but a dinner, at half past 9 in the evening and more than that, it was a dinner in honour of a friend who had been killed in an accident. If I had understood all that I probably wouldn’t have signed up since meeting a lot of new people at the same time makes me nervous enough. Quite fortunate in that respect that my Spanish is still so bad, because I had a very good time. We had been asked to be merry and positive to commemorate this rider with good spirit. So despite the reason for the gathering the dinner was very nice and food superb.

todos somos ducatistas
todos somos ducatistas

The event was, in a way, very different from the meetings I’m used to from the Swedish Ducati Club in Gothenburg, were we meet for coffee at 7 in the evening. A dinner like this would never be scheduled in the middle of the week, Swedes don’t do things like that. When it came to the subjects discussed though, it was indeed very much the same. It is a nice way to rest my brain from thinking of education and rather just focus on motorcycles, which after all is the most important thing in my life.