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Published: December 5th 2010
Life is still good in Wuhan! December 5, temperature in the low 20s, riding the motorcycle every day, and another week of sunshine in the forecast. This weekend was more great food and parties along with a ride to a local motocross event. Yes, you heard it right, a ride to a local motorcycle event on my bike...with my summer clothing on. Of course by the end of the weekend I had caught fire, smashed a friend's scooter and badly burned my fingers on my exhaust pipe. And that is why I am going to sit still now and write this little blog entry. I don't dare move for fear of something else happening. Although I have hit my three now!
But let me back up a bit... Friday night we had yet another party at our principal's place. His birthday was a good excuse to celebrate. The night started off great and ended great. It was the middle part that wasn't so good! To make a long story short, I was chatting away to a friend when I felt my back getting a little warm. I looked behind me to see flames licking up the back of my shirt.
Yep, I was on fire! Apparently, I leaned in a little too close to a candle burning on the shelf next to me as I was chatting. My loose shirt draped into the candle flame and quickly ignited. By the time I noticed what had happened, the material was well on its way to burning up. Thanks to the quick thinking of a couple of nearby friends and an empty plate, I was quickly given a pat down and the flames were extinguished. It could have been a lot worse!
Saturday, four friends and I set off to a local motocross event that we were told about. We had a little map and directions but it wasn't quite good enough to get us there. We realized we had missed our turn off the highway and had gone too far when the Number 3 bridge loomed ahead of us, one of the three major bridges crossing the Yangtze River in Wuhan. As we sat there looking at the map, a taxi driver approached us and asked where we were trying to go. When we showed him the map, he said to follow him across the bridge and he would lead
us around and back to where we should have turned off. Sounded like a plan to us!
Anyone who has been in a taxi here knows how they drive. He took off across the bridge, weaving in and out of he heavy traffic at God knows how many km/hr with us staying on his tail. After driving here for a couple of years, you get just as crazy as the rest of them and we managed to hug his rear bumper all the way across the bridge and back to where we should have turned off. We offered to pay him for his time, which was considerable, but he refused to take any money from us. He said, "Not all Chinese people want money for everything."
From there, we carried on our way to the event, which was only another ten minutes away. On Saturday, they were just setting up and practicing but we still had a great time. The organizers provided us with lunch. I knew a couple of them from previous motorcycle events. One who they call "The Car God" in Chinese (I still haven't caught his real name) is a very famous stunt driver on
motorcycles and cars. He has worked in many major films and used to do a lot of wild and crazy stuff in his past. He just happens to call Wuhan his home. He served us tea and showed us a couple of documentaries about himself while we were hanging around in the clubhouse.
Going back home only took twenty minutes, a far cry from the time it took to get there. The day had been great, the weather had been beautiful but I made the mistake of stopping to help a friend get her scooter started on the way out of the parking lot as I walked back to our apartment. Now let me explain, some scooters have a clutch, some are "twist and go". My motorcycle has a clutch, Angel's scooter is "twist and go". I had been driving a clutch all day and wasn't thinking. I got her little scooter going while standing next to it and started to rev the engine a bit to make sure all was well. Well, you don't rev an engine on a "twist and go".....you twist...it goes....and go it did, with me attached across the parking lot and into a parked
motorcycle. The damage to her scooter was minimal and can easily be fixed. the damage to my ego was something else again. Luckily, I wasn't hurt too badly. Just a scraped knee and wrist and ripped jeans. All's well that sort of ends well, I guess.
We came back the next day for the actual event and spent an hour or so in the morning watching the race. One of the times I started filming one of the jumps, one of the riders nose-dived and summersaulted a few feet away from us (see the video clip). I was so surprised, I moved away and missed getting the complete accident. We all thought he was going to head right into us! After lying on the ground a few minutes with his battered helmet, he got back on his bike and continued riding. Of course, there were no safety barriers or ambulances in sight. I think safety is an unknown word around here!
Throughout the day, my sidecar was the object of attention, as always, and countless people got their pictures taken on it or with it. And the girls went through a posing session with at least 10 or
15 Chinese guys. Everybody still gets a kick out of the foreigners, especially in out-of-the-way events such as this. But they are always friendly and every time we step out of the house for this kind of trip, it ends up being an adventure. This all took place inside our area of Wuhan, about twenty minutes away. It is one huge city.
Oh, and I burned my fingers on my engine, but don't even ask.....
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