2wheels: The Return
Edward Genochio's bicycle expedition from China to England
September 2005 - November 2006
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Horseman Stole My Bicycle!
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Crime Fightin' in Siberia
This article first appeared in The Adventure Cycling Handbook, available in bookshops or at www.trailblazer-guides.com, and is reproduced here in edited form by kind permission of the book's editor.
This time it was different. The usual smiling faces were absent, replaced by a pair of ugly snarls. "Dai dengi," spat out the guy on the back: Give us your money.
I declined, politely, and kept riding. They kept demanding. I rode a little faster, but their motorbike kept pace - unsurprising, in retrospect, given that I was struggling uphill at not much over walking pace. I pedalled harder. They rammed my bike from behind. I wobbled, but kept going. I suppose I held out the faint hope that they might run out of petrol before I ran out of legs.
They came at me again, this time the pillion passenger throwing punches at me, landing a blow square in the mouth. Absurdly, and without thinking, I tried fighting back, while keeping my pedals turning.
It was a long, slow uphill stretch. It felt like a high-speed Hollywood chase scene - turned into farce because it was played out at five miles an hour.
We kept going like this for some time, my stubbornness driven mainly by the fact that I had done a cash-check in my tent the night before and had stupidly tucked five hundred dollars into my trouser pocket rather than stashing them at the bottom of a pannier. They had picked a good day to empty my pockets.
As they moved in for another swing at me, I jabbed my arm out to fend them off. My hand found their wing mirror; I grabbed and pushed, but rather than their bike toppling over, the mirror snapped off in my hand. I threw it at the driver, but my left-arm throw was weak, and missed anyway.
By now we had gone twelve rounds and were still pretty much even on points, but along with the wing mirror, they lost their patience as well. They rammed into me from the side, sending me and my bike flying. In the process, though, they fell off their motorbike, and as they crashed their seat broke from its mount. This seemed to upset them - so much so that they forgot all about mugging me and instead began accusing me of damaging their motorbike.
I had to steer a careful course in the argument that followed - maintaining that I was not strictly to blame for the "accident", while at the same time trying not to remind them that they were supposed to be robbing me. Thankfully, their memories were not good; after hurling a sewer-full of Russian abuse and invective at me, they mounted their now not-so-shiny motorbike, and revved, mirrorless and seatless, away, leaving me alone at the roadside with a buckled back wheel, a twisted and broken low-rider, and my computer magnet lost somewhere in the gravel at the side of the road.
Top Three Tips for surviving Motorbike Muggings:
1. If you're touring solo, drive-by muggings like this, especially on roads with little traffic, are rare, but not unheard of. Consider carrying a 'dummy' wallet with a small amount of money inside - you might get away with handing this over and saving the rest of your kit and cash. You could keep an old expired bank card in the wallet too.
2. The "keep-cycling-till-they-run-out-of-petrol" tactic might just be worth a try. I met a Norwegian cyclist a few months later who had had a similar experience - and his instinct had been the same: keep riding. His would-be attackers ran out of juice about 200 metres further down the road, allowing him to make his getaway.
3. If your low-rider goes through your spokes and in the process your computer-magnet gets knocked off and lost, any old magnet will do to replace it. Buy whatever you can find (even a fridge magnet) and wrap it onto your spokes with duck tape. Just make sure you have it positioned correctly and it will work fine. Don't get a really strong magnet though, or you'll find yourself sticking to passing cars.
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|Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005 Edward Genochio
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