I just came back from another training trip, and Paula Cole words “Where have all the cowboys gone” echo in my ears. The last 4.5 km of a 330 km cycling trip was emotionally distressing.
Months back when I decided to take part of the Tour de Timor, it was because we would fundraise for a cause and cycle as a team to finish together. During this practice trip, I voiced out we should cycle together, since that never fabricated, to be safe, I never cycled at the end of the pack because if anything were bound to happen at least someone would be behind me.
In the last 4.5 km, the last guy cycled passed me and I didn’t want to voice out because nobody would leave a girl cycling on a highway alone. Making matters worse, as cycled I saw a snake come out from the plantations while cycling around it, a car nearly hit me. Almost immediately, my rear tire went flat and my amateur expertise knows that cycling on a flat will damage my bike.
Since we were so close to the town, I assumed that someone would notice and cycles back at most 10-20 mins. Instead of standing on the highway alone, I decided to walk towards the gas station, a very unpleasant experience as the winds of the speeding of the motorized vehicles drove passed.
Although for days, motorists were calling out making comments, it never bothered me until I walked alone and realized how dangerous it was. I buckled my fears and 25 mins later: I was 100 meters from the gas station still not a team member in sight other than a wild dog. Earlier that day we encountered a wild dog growling aggressively at us as we paddled away my heart raced, as a scared pedestrian, I knew that I should not be trying that without the speed of my cycle. I spent 10 – 15 mins hauling down a motorcyclist to walk beside me to the gas station.
A nice cowboy tried to help me fix my tire, explained that my only solution was to replace it. The cowboy was concerned about me, but I told him I was cycling with others and they would come back. After the unsuccessful attempt of retrieving their numbers from my dead phone, another nice cowboy let me place my chip in his phone, and to use his phone, as I didn’t have roaming.
A phone call to one of my team members comforted that one of them was on they’re way. While waiting a motorcyclist started harassing me until the gas station manager asked me to leave. I started crying, feeling so helpless because I was stuck. It was dangerous and stupid and I shouldn’t have been there alone.
As cars came and went, and the sun set behind the mountain the sky turned pitched dark. In industrial rural area, taking a taxi alone was not the best idea. I didn’t understand how it could take these guys so long, when I knew they could have been there in less than ten minutes.
They arrived almost 90 mins since I was stranded, in taxis after eating dinner. During the cab ride to the border, I barely spoke a word all I wanted to do was be home where it was safe.
At the border, in the midst of the mad-post holiday traffic, history repeated itself and I was abandoned yet again. It was such a reality check. When I got to Singapore, they were waiting for me after the checkpoint I don’t think I have ever been so angry that I couldn’t even speak.
I cycled to the cabstand, but because the line was so long having my phone dead calling a cab was not an option. I couldn’t even speak to them to use their phone, so I cycled off to look for a phone and met two very nice cowboys who let me use their phone. After unsuccessful attempts to taxi companies, they offered me a ride home. I would never have accepted a ride home by a stranger but I just wanted to be safe.
This weekend really helped me see that there are tons of nice cowboys in this world. Adventure runs through my veins, but it’s not worth risking yourself to dangers that can be avoided. Always make sure to be safe and to be with people you trust.