It was early in the run; I had just come out of the Deep South and was running my first bit of asphalt road. It was going well slowly loping down a long down hill admiring the scenery and my thoughts were as usual about scrounging food, there were huge plump red peaches hanging near the edge of the road. Deep in the planning stage about a quick detour, a little jump up a bank and I would be off with my prize.
Suddenly out of nowhere my thoughts were smashed. A massive pain shot down my back as I was flung forward tripping over something I hit the asphalt with a massive weight on top of me then I heard the sound of steel grinding on the road, followed by a scream as I twisted onto my back, a person came flying over me and bounced on the road coming to a groaning halt just in front of me, followed by the twisted shape of a bicycle in full flight, smashing into the road next to me, dragging me over, my foot tangled in the front heel. Some how this clown came screaming over the hill, head down and peddling like a bat out of hell straight into me with out seeing me – a freak accident, maybe.
Now 2 months down the line, slowly running the roller coaster of hills to the west coast, each day is a real test. Breathtaking scenery, rolling eroded landscape, dotted with little villages all frantically working away at making charcoal. Bicycles by the dozen labouring up and down the hills. You won’t believe it, but each laden with 2 x 100kg bags of charcoal on the carrier and then one lying on the crossbar and resting on the handle bar. Up the hills they push and down they fly out of control no brakes, just a foot with a smoking shoe jammed in the back wheel as a brake, wobbling into corners wide eyed.
Rain swirling around me, I slowly passed the charcoal runners as I ground out the hill, over the crest and down the long hill I glided in a trance, floating, rhythmically running with ease. Every now and then a charcoal runner would whiz past, on his down hill death wish run. One after the other they would zip past. The road took a sharp left turn and then down it went again. I cut onto the outside of the road to avoid the camber and round I went, a bicycle shot past looking very unstable as he rounded the wet bend, I just shook my head.
Suddenly I was airborne, my legs wisped out from under me, as I flew horizontal to the road. I could smell this familiar wet smoke. Then a heavy object hit me from the side and I tumbled into the grass hitting it and bouncing in a spray of shinny black objects. Coming to rest against a bush still being pelted with these abject, I looked up just in time to see a bicycle smash into the embankment a massive bag a charcoal followed and exploded on impact. A deathly silence followed, nothing moved, slowly I dislodged myself from the bush, looking over the road to my assailant, who was now extracting himself from his pile of rubble. Swaying and wobbling he walked into the road to pick up his mangled bike. It was only a matter of seconds as another charcoal express appeared around the bend and smacked straight into him, I just cringed as I saw them tumble down the hill.