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#1 Jan 29, 2018 2:44 pm

New Historian
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Scaling the Peak

At 7,405 feet, Blue Mountain Peak is Jamaica’s highest mountain, and a bunch of us were going to climb it – on motorbikes.  The plan was to ride up the track to a mountain lodge at around 4,000 feet, called Whitfield Hall, park the bikes and walk from there. We’d ride through the night to reach Whitfield Hall by around 3:00am, then set out on foot to the peak. We were told it was insanity to take our big street bikes up to Whitfield Hall, it had never been done before. All the more reason for doing it!

It was me and Millie Wong on my Triumph Trophy 650, Maurice on his brute of a Honda 750 and a whole bunch of other bikers. After spending the night getting oiled up at Epiphany Nightclub we set off at midnight, which left us plenty of time to reach Whitfield Hall by 3am. Or so we thought.

There was one factor we hadn’t taken into account: rain. Although it was the rainy season, what that meant was that it rained for a couple of hours every afternoon, but apart from that it was fine. But what we city boys didn’t realize was that up there in the mountains, during the rainy season, it didn’t just rain some of the time, it rains all the time. Unbeknownst to us, a continuous mizzle had been falling for weeks, and the track to Whitfield Hall, barely passable at the best of times in a four-wheeler, had become a quagmire of slippery, clinging, mud.

The first hour was easy going, on the potholed but passable road up to the Mavis Bank Blue Mountain coffee estate, but after we turned off onto the dirt track, that’s where things began to get sticky. With low clouds, there was zero moonlight and very little visibility. We had to wrestle our bikes up the steep muddy track, in the rainy, cold night. It was murder. It didn’t take long for us to get soaked to the bone, and of course we were completely underdressed for the inclement weather. We revved our overworked bikes beyond their limits, struggling through the mud.

There were times when you couldn’t stop, couldn’t turn back, daren’t look down. Up and up, through the pitch black night, with only a thin headlight beam to guide you. It was scary; the higher the climb, the deeper the drop. If you fell off the track you’d be lucky to survive without broken bones, and forget about rescuing your bike. There were a few close calls, but mercifully no disasters.

That night, up against the might and muscle of Japan’s finest, my “ole British bike” came into its own. Mine was the only bike to make it to Whitfield Hall without breaking down. Starting with Maurice’s Honda 750, all the Japanese behemoths huffed and puffed and died along the wayside, overheated and bogged down. My engine got so hot, the sparkplug covers melted onto the engine block; but we made it.

Millie and I got to Whitfield Hall, enjoyed a mug of hot chocolate laced with rum, sat in front of a raging fire drying our clothes, and grinned as the procession of bedraggled bikers came slogging in through the door – on foot. That night my old Triumph Trophy earned itself a new name: “Perseverance”!

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#2 Jan 29, 2018 10:47 pm

gripe
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Re: Scaling the Peak

Deja Vu? Or, am I dreaming?

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#3 Jan 30, 2018 7:47 am

Dancer
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Re: Scaling the Peak

If I remember clearly  , New Historian fell off his bike recently , I think he banged his head.

lord!

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