We were riding the 50km dirt road section between San Jose Pinula and Mataquescuintla when I felt something give way beneath me. All of a sudden I was falling backwards and sitting on top of the Ortlieb RackPack. Where did my saddle go?
It took me a few seconds to realise that my seat post had sheered off and my Brooks saddle was dangling by a strip of aluminium like a broken limb. I looked down at the remaining metal shaft in disbelief. We were still a good 20km from the nearest pueblo, Mataquesquintla, and the rain clouds were starting to roll in. Jenny suggested we ask for help, but I stubbornly decided I would try to ride out of the saddle for the remainder.
To make matters worse, we had just entered a section of road works with big, loose gravel and a formidable hill climb. This slowed us down for a few kilometres and my quads started to ache from my new stair stepper bike.
I later read a few stories about some very serious injuries caused by broken seat posts. One guy actually bleed out to death on the trail when he was impaled in the groin by his broken seat post. Fortunately, my big bags broke my fall backwards and I basically just sat down.
Finally, after 20km and a few pit stops to avoid sudden downpours, we arrived in Mataquescuintla drenched and covered in mud.
The next day, I found a decent bike shop run by a nice guy called Elmer. After about 15 minutes of prying, bending, drilling, sloshing of oil and some fierce, manly elbow grease, he managed to dislodge the remaining piece of the seat post from inside my seat tube.
Unfortunately, Elmer didn’t have any 27.2mm seat posts. He said he could get one in 3-4 days. I was impatient, so I decided we should take a bus to Jalapa, a larger town about 50km away.
Sadly, there were no 27.2mm seat posts to be found in Jalapa either! I checked five different bike shops!
I decided the next option was to make a day trip back the opposite direction to Guatemala City. Jenny cheerfully came with to keep me company. This is where my bad luck got worse. After a 2.5 hour bus journey from Jalapa to Guate City (on a Wednesday!), we discovered that all the bike shops were closed for Dia de Asunción (a public holiday widely observed in Latin America on 15 August). Did I mention it was on a Wednesday?!
We had left our bikes and gear in Jalapa and already paid for the hotel and now we had to find another hotel in Guate City to avoid having to make the same round trip from Jalapa the next day!
After a good night sleep in Guate City, we made the rounds to several bike shops just after 9am and finally found a 27.2mm seat post at BiciMania for 265 Queztales (around £24).
Of all the things that could break on our bikes, this was one which I had least expected. I really hope we can make it across at least one country without having to hunt around for parts! Fingers crossed for Honduras! We should be there in a two days time!