When The Desert Kicks
By March 2011 after 10 years of desert buggying, I’d clocked up around 35,000 kms. During that time I’d smashed my right shoulder and busted a couple of ribs but nothing so devastating as the OBE I encountered on 4 March 2011, which left me in a debilitated & depressed state as I was unable to kite buggy for almost 13 weeks.
It was inevitable because I’d been pushing the boundaries more & more in this kiting game.
It was a Friday when Giorgio riding his all composite Shamal & I decided on what should have been a long day’s buggying. Brigitte joined us as usual driving her 800cc Polaris Razor.
Giorgio & I found it unusually tough running the first part of our journey through the Dragon Run which is a labyrinth of tricky dunes made difficult by the unusually soft climbs we made on some of the softer leeward sides of dunes and in severely gusting winds.
We reached the first sabkha & Giorgio mentioned that he’d OBE’d during the Dragon Run although I managed to stay in my seat.
After traversing a large sabkha, we crossed several strings of dunes & sabkhas but on the last one just before an 11 km sabkha run that would take us to a fence is when it happened. I’d just climbed a good sized dune & noticed a hard bump in the sandy trough below me. The wind was blowing from my right & there was deep bowl to my left that I wanted to avoid as it looked like there was long steep pull out of it. I figured that I could descend the dune at moderate pace, ride over the bump at the bottom & benefit from the momentum to easily ride up the next dune, with the help of my kite of course. I was flying my 4m Blade V while Giorgio’s engine was his 3.5m Blur). On the dune descent, I was hit by an almighty blast & rocketed into the bump. The buggy bounced up shooting me skywards but then the kite yanked me over the left. The buggy landed the right way up but I didn’t as I smashed into the sand.
Brig drove over in the Razor & I showed her my right hand that was flopping around like a fish struggling on the end of an angler’s line. She drove over to Giorgio for assistance who was stopped on the sabkha. Dropping everything, he immediately jumped in the Razor’s passenger’s seat & came to my rescue. Both Giorgio & Brig were absolutely fantastic in getting me out of the dunes & back to the car 31 kms away as the crow flies.
We had some spare Flexi handles that became the perfect splint. Giorgio’s outer T shirt provided excellent padding. Brig found a good sized bandage in her first aid kit to secure my arm.
Giorgio wound up my kite lines & packed the Blade away. He then sat in my buggy as Brig towed him out of the dunes via some smaller dunes & troughs to another sabkha while I sat helplessly in the Razor’s passenger seat.
Once on the sabkha I sat in my buggy waiting while Giorgio & Brig drove along a sandy track to where Giorgio’s kite & buggy were sitting quite lonely in the next sabkha.
While I waited, I reflected on what was my stupid mistake & even chuckled when I talked to my buggy. ‘Well DB-I, you’ve done it again, living up to your name as the Death Buggy.’
I wasn’t the first person to break a wrist while riding it.
Giorgio & Brig were soon back as I dreamily lazed in the DB-I. My buggy was fixed behind Giorgio’s buggy & Giorgio sat in the Shamal was towed behind the Razor. It took a good hour to get back to the ghaf tree where the cars & trailers were parked. Our mate Angelo was there and they all helped to pack up so that we left nothing in the desert. I don’t think a better rescue could have been accomplished. It was a simply outstanding for which I’m forever grateful to Brig & my friends.
Brig drove home, leaving the trailer there & then took me to the hospital emergency department. The X-Rays showed shattered wrist bones, distal radius & ulna fractures. The Doctor tried some manipulation to put it all back into place but to no avail. The following day on the Saturday night I was put under & a plate screwed into my arm to fix the damage. I went home the following day chewing on pain killers & managed my first good night’ sleep since the accident.
That adventure left me well & truly screwed, which was pity because March, April & May are the windiest times of the year in the UAE.
I worked hard at getting better with physio sessions twice a week and even went swimming every day.
My first kite flying session was a static event with a recreational kite, which went well. A week later on 27 May 2011 I made my a 9 km buggy ride.
I have limited wrist movement but it doesn’t interfere with my flying. I’ve clocked up 1651 kms (1026 miles), since the desert kicked me hard, even having two OBE’s during that time but without serious injury.