Does this strike you as a good idea, going on an adventure riding dirt bikes in Patagonia when you’ve never been on a dirt bike in your life? I know, I know, but back in the 90’s when given the chance to do just that, I jumped at it. Of course what really made it tempting was the cast of characters I would be riding with on the trip. The two main riders were singer Lyle Lovett and off-road racing legend Malcolm Smith.
With Lyle and I being fellow Texans I was envisioning a kid of buddy film, sort of a, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” on dirt bikes. Lyle had a lot of experience on dirt bikes, even racing them as a kid, I of course had none, although for several years in California I had owned and ridden street bikes. I was about to find out there is a difference.
I also relearned another lesson, one my mother had attempted to instill in me from the beginning. She would always, “Never leave the house wearing dirty underwear, because you might get in a accident and have to go to the hospital where they will see you’re wearing dirty underwear. I don’t know why that was such a major concern for moms back in the day, but most of my friends were given the same lecture by their mothers as well.
When I arrived in Chile for the trip, my luggage did not. For two days while we hung out in Santiago I had to wear the same clothes I’d worn on the plane ride, including the same underwear. My wife located my luggage and arranged to have the bags meet me in Patagonia on the day we were beginning the ride. That meant I got my dirt bike gear in time to put in on before we got on the bikes, but I didn’t have time to find or change my underwear. It should have been a warning.
Sure enough five hours into what was to be a seven day ride, I hi a big rock buried in the sand, flipped the bike, and when I put my arm down to break the fall, dislocated my elbow. The pain was so intense I though I must have broken a few bones as well. Holding my arm to steady my dislocated elbow I climbed in the back of a pickup for a five hour bumpy ride to the hospital where they reset the elbow, put the arm in a cast, and the next day I got on a plane back to the States. The rest of the group went on with the dream trip.
It all just proves mom was right about what happens when you wear dirty underwear. I tell the story of what happened this week on my radio show, “National Geographic Weekend.” Here’s a part of the original story about our bike trip in Patagonia that we filmed for my show at the time, “National Geographic Explorer.”