motorcycles in colombia

We Crashed the Motorcycle in Colombia

Disclaimer: The crash happened yesterday, which is also when this post was written. I’m a day late posting due to time and internet restraints.

We crashed today. My fears were realized as more than my toe hit pavement and we tumbled all the way down. It must have happened in a matter of seconds, and some of the details are lost on us both, though it felt like a slow-moving film over the course of several long minutes.

We were just back on the road after a late lunch and had weaved our way through some of the worst traffic we’ve yet seen, despite the town being much smaller than some of the cities we’ve ridden through. We were picking up speed as the traffic thinned, and then suddenly there was a car; a small red Rabbit-like car that slowed as we approached, then halted. Mads braked, perhaps too hard, and our rear wheel locked up as we skidded along the slick (well worn) pavement. Then our front wheel did the same. We slammed into the driver’s side taillight and then veered left to attempt a smooth recovery. But there was a truck. Not but a few feet away from the car with barely enough space for us to squeeze through, we must have hit the side of the truck trailer, and it must have sent us further out of control. Soon we were leaning, then falling, then down. Before I knew it, I was instinctually curled up in a ball on my side. Mads followed suit, and it wasn’t but milliseconds before we were sitting up, asking if the other was okay, in shock that we still had all of our limbs.

“There are only two types of riders,” says our guide and founder of Motolombia motorcycle tours, “those who’ve been down, and those who are going down.”

It’s funny. It happened so slow in my brain that I was able to register when it became inevitable that we were going down, but it happened too quickly for my brain to register fear or my body to tense up in anticipation. There were two small speed bumps, in the middle of seemingly nowhere, that caused the red car and the truck to slow to a stop. We didn’t see them coming. Then we were down, and we were okay, and it was over.

It felt almost as if I’d been waiting for this moment, in fact I’d pictured it a thousand times much worse in my head, as we sped down canyon roads with constant switchbacks, or the high speeds on straight stretches. I pictured the bike laying over just as it did, but the velocity shooting our bodies and skidding them across the pavement. We were lucky to walk away from this accident with only a few scratches, bruises, sore muscles and sprains (my right wrist is nearly out of commission and Mads is gimping like an 80-year-old man, but we’re fine. Really.), much better than the way I’d seen it happening.

broken hand

My swollen hand and wrist.

At least 10 men and women surrounded us, genuinely worried about our wellbeing. Once all was believe to be okay, we shared a few smiles and laughs and then the men removed the bent bike from under the truck tire. They were eager to get it running, though the handlebars were mangled and gasoline was spewing from the punctured tank. With the cost of parts and labor in The States, it probably would have been declared totaled, but all the Colombian men insisted it was repairable.

motorcycles in colombia

The group tried their best to straighten the handlebars without tools, and then plugged the gas leak with soap and duct tape (it fixes everything, right?). Mads rode the lopsided bike into the nearest town with a police- and body-guard escort, following a friendly and helpful taxi man to his recommended mechanic (I rode in the taxi). I’m writing this from the body shop now, and the men are working their fastest to replace the necessary parts and get the bike back into road shape. We’ve decided to forgo our plans of continuing today, and just stay here and get an early start tomorrow. (A few hours later, the bike will cost only $100 and a couple hours before it’s nearly good as new.)

motorcycles in colombia

At the repair shop.

Probably needless to say, I’m not entirely thrilled about getting back on the bike tomorrow, but we have a six-hour drive to Medellin to stay on track, and then a well-deserved rest day. I was raised to get back on the horse after getting bucked off, and despite the fact that I’m not riding a trainable animal, nor am I in charge, that’s exactly what I’m going to do. And precisely because the bike can’t sense my fear like a horse, I’m going to hold my breath all the way.


  1. Kellie Hill says:

    Thank gosh you guys are alright.

  2. Oh man, your poor bike! I'm glad everyone is okay; that's the most important part!

    • jessicajhill says:

      Yeah, we are doing well, thanks! It’s funny how after we realized everybody was okay, our first thoughts were “Oh shit, what are we going to do now without a bike?” Ha. Silly. But it’s up and running!

  3. Edna says:

    Oh my goodness that’s crazy! Glad to hear you are okay.

  4. Rachell Hughes says:

    Glad you are okay.

  5. Richard Read says:

    What an experience. Glad OK

  6. Yowzers! That's quite an adventure. Glad you were able to walk away.

  7. Lady, lady, lady. This exactly what I told you NOT to do. Sheesh. Glad it was just bruises!

  8. Tammy Barrett says:

    I am so happy you are whole and in one piece. I pray that you stay that way. Happy travels and come home soon.

  9. Somehow I neglected to comment on this in a timely manner, but I just wanted to say that I know first-hand how terrifying a crash like this can be—I had something similar happen while in Cambodia and the hardest thing afterwards was to get back on the bike (especially as I was the one who had to drive it). I was quite jumpy and nervous on bikes for about a month afterwards and I’m still incredibly cautious nearly a year later. I thank my lucky stars every day that I came away mostly unscathed (I banged my knee up and bruised my collar bone, but nothing broken)… Alas, part of the exhilaration in riding a bike comes from the fact that you’re so exposed. I’m so glad to hear that you and your driver were ok and that the bike took the brunt of the damage (and was easily fixed).

    • jessicajhill says:

      I’m so sorry that happened to you! Bravo for being on your own bike, though, and I’m glad you’re okay. I think it’s good to remain cautious at all times. The problem is that you’re so vulnerable to everybody elses mistakes that you just can’t prevent, unfortunately. But you’re right, that’s half the appeal. We were very lucky!

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