Today was a bad day

My phone battery died so I was riding blind to my hostel in Riga. I glanced up at the spiderweb of highway turns approaching and made a snap decision — left. It would prove to be a costly decision.

Wearing a thin cotton t-shirt and black jeans with sneakers, I shivered as the cold air whipped past me. The road twisted up and over a large metal bridge. The speed limit suddenly picked up to 70km and a mayhem of cars filed into my lane. Somebody cut me off then screeched to a halt, narrowly avoiding a bus.

I had intended to cruise lazily around the streets and now I was zipping over a bridge at high speeds, exposed to absolute pandemonium.

“Suddenly I hear a thud. My intuition tells me to feel behind my seat and touch my pannier. My stomach drops. It’s not there.”

The bridge was double laned in both directions, with a small ledge before the safety barricade. A steady stream of old blue buses, cars and trucks whizzed past. Horns punctured the air as it whistled past my ears.

I started to panic, and looked for a place to pull over. I slowed down and people started beeping. A man sped up next to me and pointed behind us.

My pannier had fallen off my bike at 70km an hour and in it contained half of my camera equipment. Lenses and all.

Broken Lens
What happens when you launch a lens at 80km an hour

What I thought’d happen
I’d cruise the streets real casual like

What actually happened
I ran across a bridge suicidally amidst peak hour traffic to retrieve the shattered remains of my camera gear.

Feeling sorry for yourself does nothing

My heart was racing. Everything went all blurry. I started to cry. I started having a panic attack. A LOT of valuable things were in that pannier, and if you’ve followed my story so far you’ll know how much effort it took to get that damn pannier. I’m talking weeks of waiting and organising.

I swerved into a hasty U-turn further up, and flew back over the bridge, I couldn’t see shit because tears are streaming. My helmet’s like a fucking fish bowl. I park my bike by the side before the bridge and sprint across the narrow ledge. I look suicidal, I feel eyes burrowing into my back.

The remains of my pannier are smeared across the road. The plastic pannier itself lying pathetically in pieces, blown to shrapnel.

Vehicles whoosh over my belongings. I flag them down, attempting to slow them so I could collect my things. They didn’t.

I spotted my favourite lens and darted in-between traffic to retrieve it. The expensive glass shattered and the plastic body tortured from impact. I saw my notebook, bent and twisted, pages torn off, flapping against the bridge fence. It was then that I realised the rest of my things had exploded off the side of the bridge. There was no chance of retrieving them. I felt as shattered as my poor little lens.

It was impossible to collect the other small bits and pieces so I walked back to my bike slowly, my shoulders slumped and tears gushing down my face.

I got on my bike and screamed like I have never EVER screamed before. I SCREAMED into my helmet as hard as I could. The noise stayed in my little bubble. I screamed again. Louder, harder. Shrill, shrieking.

So dramatic.

Written at the time

It took me an extra 1-2 hours to find my way home. In fact in total it took 3 hours to get home tonight. To put this in perspective, its a 10 minute drive across town.

I finally got home 5 minutes ago, after an hour of trial and error. I’m sitting here and I feel so alone. I feel so down. Finally, something has broken me. After all of the things that have happened on this trip, this has done it.

Disappointment. There’s nothing worse.


After inspection of the pannier, it seems that the ‘special’ BMW bolt might have made its way loose and then snapped off. I guess it was going to happen at some point and I can say I’m extremely lucky it happened at a time when I didn’t have my laptop, camera and passports in there. Maybe it was a good thing after all.

But for now, I’m royally screwed as what to do next. I can’t really leave until I find a luggage solution. I guess I’ll keep you posted.

What I learned today:

  1. Check my motorcycle daily before riding
  2. Helmets are a great place to let off steam

Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Bart says:

    Oh wow!
    Having read quite a bit of your blog you have a keen interest in photography, loosing a lens in any way would have broken my heart on a trip like this one.

    Out of interest, what tech equipment did you have with you? Laptop, camera, GoPro? Were you editing any of your files along the way?
    I’m planning a RTW trip on my KTM 990 and as photography is very important to me, I’m considering what to take with me…

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