Met up with @beefchips yesterday to ride some dirt. A bit of wayfinding was needed as the BDR route was wrong and wanted us to go down a steep slope that clearly has never been used as a trail and was littered with dead and fallen trees, and also use a hiking trail that's gated to motor vehicles. Even with that little snag early on we could see the trails were going to be great!
After finding our way onto the correct route, we stopped for lunch at a huge intersection/pull out area on a forest road. While eating, we heard what I at first thought was a Harley coming down the trail behind us! Well my ears might be broken because it was just a V-strom 1000 with a slip on. Chatted with the guy riding it for a few minutes and then we all headed our separate ways.
The trails were almost entirely easy forest service roads, with a few gnarlier sections here and there, but nothing crazy. Eventually we came to the Wolf Mountain fire lookout. At 108' tall is apparently the tallest inhabitable wooden structure in... the country? world? I can't remember. But the guy working that post invited us up, and told us all about it and even let us have a look through his telescope thing that he uses to look for fires! He was genuinely excited to have guests, so if you find yourself in the area, check it out and say hi!!
Continuing on, the trail remained easy forest roads except for small sections. Until we got to my favorite part of the ride so far. Legit double track jeep trails with large exposed roots, rocks, deep ruts, technical climbs and deep puddles! These would've been rated blue squares at a mountain bike park, which is a lot of terrain to handle on such big bikes (read: not dedicated dirt bikes). It was rad! And the Africa twin has no right to be as good off road as it is!
Then the real fun started. And by fun I mean the opposite. We came to a very long puddle that there was no way around. We grabbed a long stick to check depth, maybe about a foot, and used the stick to feel for any obstacles hiding under the brown water. Feeling that it looked worse than it actually was, we went for it.
I don't know if we missed something or if it was just the mud and ruts being thick and heavy, but beefchips bars kicked sideways, causing him to lose the clutch and pull too hard on the throttle and go full send. Mother nature told him half sends weren't allowed. I'm not gonna lie it looked pretty badass, huge rooster tail shooting up and water flying everywhere! But there's an inherent issue with bars turned really far and lots of throttle on a narrow trail. And let me tell you, trees don't take no shit. That KLR bounced right off that tree.
If you are squeamish, stop reading, jump to the end no pictures though
Beefchips was trying to stand up by the time I got to him. But he immediately told me his ankle was broken. He laid back down and as he did I could see his foot wasn't really moving like it should, just sort of flopping around. If you want to see what it looked like, look up videos of Dak Prescott's leg injury. I took a closer look at it, being careful not to move anything. It was bleeding, but not profusely. I knew it would be awhile before we were able to get help and I was unable to get a real close look because of his boots and riding pants. But it wasn't arterial, so that was good! I helped him, while doing my best to prevent further ankle and foot movement, to get it slightly elevated to slow blood loss. Then activated my emergency GPS beacon. Got him a couple aspirin and did my best to downplay the injury. Last thing he needed was to go into shock. But he was hanging in there, totally lucid, doing great really. No damage to the helmet or complaints of pain anywhere else.
I knew there was no way in hell an ambulance could get anywhere close, so I scouted the area and found a big open meadow nearby. We also tried calling 911, but there was no reception at all, we had been descending through thick forest for a few miles. After covering him with as many layers as I could and making sure the bleeding wasn't getting worse, I walked a half mile in either direction to see if I could get reception, but even in the meadow the was nothing, with either of our phones. At this point it had been an hour since he crashed and I activated the beacon, and still no sign of rescue. We both felt it would best for me to ride out to find signal. So off I went, back the way we came, up the hill. I had to go about a mile before getting the slightest hint of signal. But it was enough and I managed a 911 call.
I had made a note of GPS coordinates from the beacon and relayed those to the dispatcher. Unfortunately, service was cutting out, there were dropped calls, and also some figuring out which emergency services department would be closest. My phone was only pinging off of one tower so they couldn't get a solid read on my location. Then I had to do some more scouting to find a sign to indicate which road we were on. I hadn't seen any in quite a while, but it turned out there was a nearby one, just fallen over. All in all, it was about 30-40 minutes of minutes of phone tag with emergency services to get a tag on location. Then another agonizing 10-15 minutes where I didn't hear anything from anyone and reception had gotten worse. I hated leaving him lay there, but figured if I went back to him I wouldn't be able to use my phone or lead anyone to him.
Then I heard sirens!!! And a few minutes later a lifted Tahoe and Silverado on mud tires and sheriff's dept decals came blasting up the trail right to me! I lead them back to the accident site. They also immediately knew it would take a helicopter to get him out. So one of the guys started working on that and went to pick up the ambulance crew that was parked at the nearest trailhead, an hour roundtrip. So the other officer and I worked on stabilizing the leg and removing the boot. Moto boots do not like to be cut off, they are tough! I can't imagine the pain he was in, but he stayed with us the whole time and was a champ about all the shit we were doing.
Once the boot was off and pants were cut to halfway up the thigh we were finally able to fully assess the damage. Multiple breaks to the tibia, multiple breaks to the ankle area with bones protruding, but he was able to wiggle his toes and could feel them when pinched, apparently no sensation lost anywhere which is a very good sign.
Ambulance crew then showed up. And I don't mean like what you see in movies. This was two (clearly trained) locals in their normal clothes. I don't say this to diminish their knowledge or abilities. They were called out of their homes at dinner time to help us out. They were fantastic. It's just a rural area with a town that barely has a gas station, they can't have a full time team of paramedics on staff.
One of the medics and I worked on moving the KLR as it was still right next to him preventing more than one person from really comfortably working next his leg. Bike was still tipped over and back of it partially submerged.
Anyways, they went to work stabilizing the leg for real with actual medical things, the other officer got back on the radio and set up beacons to help the chopper find us. Then the rest of us loaded him onto a backboard and strapped him down. Helicopter arrived and we got him loaded into it and on his way to the hospital.
From time of crash to liftoff, it was probably about 4 hours. Four hours of laying there in agony, shivering from trauma, being completely alone for at least an hour while I was getting a hold of emergency services. Can't imagine this from his perspective. What a badass.
TLDR/for the squeamish; basket broken ankle I'm the middle of nowhere on difficult trails. Helicopter evacuation needed.
We were over two hours from the hospital he went to, so I haven't been there yet. I found my way to a hotel as I was in no mood or frame of mind to set up camp for the night. I'm going to call the hospital in a bit and see if I can get an update.
Oh, and we got all of his stuff off the bike, and the officers took it back for him. I was able to ride(!) The largely undamaged KLR out of the soup it was in and parked it in the meadow for now. We will have to figure out how to retrieve it later, or it gets stolen and insurance pays out. I don't know.
Stay safe oppo.