Rip in peace, Allan Byrne

It might be a small island, and the surfing part of it even smaller, but your blog correspondent never met Allan Byrne. I doubt we even dipped toes together in the same general vicinity of water at the same general time, because AB ripped Padang, and I wasn’t a West side sort of surfer, not even in the early days (Airport lefts & Middles being the exception before they had official names).

I did see plenty of channel-bottom Byrning Spears, though. Now their creator is gone, dying after a motorbike accident in his beloved Bali. Are there any hands that can take up shaping those hand-crafted gems?

AB surfed Bali early. That first generation of travelers and local Balinese kids, who frolicked in the early 70s, are now 45 years older than when they were. AB proved that 60 is the new 40 (20-foot Hawaiian outer reefs on his 60th?), but even so, the Morning of the Earth generation is getting a bit long in the tooth. We’re close to the exit, the hang ten ride off this mortal sea.

AB died too young. Respect the man, respect the legacy, respect the grief, but it’s a grim reminder that if you must ride a motorbike wear a good helmet, keep in mind that no matter how safe you ride the other guy probably is not, and have medevac/accident insurance. The latter is inexpensive compared to what could happen.

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4 Responses to Rip in peace, Allan Byrne

  1. robert says:

    I’ve been riding and racing motor bikes since I was 16, traversed most of Australia’s deserts and bitumen roads, some routes multiple times. Ridden through South Africa [ inc Lesotho ] and Nelson Mandela’s homeland .. Even done the return leg of the Australian Safari @ 150 – 60 kph every day for 4 days, on the dirt .. I actually stopped riding bikes in Bali in 1979 because at that time there wasn’t much traffic and we used to go fast, I could get from my house in Poppies Lane to the office Denpasar in 10 – 15 minutes. The danger was not so much from myself but from dogs running out but mostly other people being careless.. The danger was [ and remains ] that we are not in our homeland where quick, emergency response might help. I bought my first Land Cruiser in 1979, got rid of the bike and felt safe.

    I do have a trail bike in Bali but only really use it to take my Son up and down the hill to school, we go along a dirt back track. sometimes I might go and visit Steve at Padang2. Three weeks ago I had to go down to Kuta as my wife had the car. By the time I returned home to the Bukit I was very relieved and thankful of surviving the trip ! I can honestly say that it was the scariest couple of hours I have ever spent on a motorcycle. No matter how I tried to keep up with traffic [ I don’t split lanes ] there would be idiots [ both locals and invincible tourists alike ] coming through left, right and centre like there was no tomorrow. I will never ride down there again.

    Of course I understand that motorcycles are an essential tool for the visiting tourist & surfer, besides the expense, if everyone used a car then the traffic would be even worse than it is. What I URGE everyone to do, no matter how experienced, is to realize that in Bali riding a motorcycle is a very risky business. Use a safe [ approved ] helmet and at least wear shoes. I cringe every time I see surfers & tourists alike riding bikes with the crappy helmets ‘ undone ‘
    in singlets [ or nothing up top ] and in thongs. just inviting grated toes [ I’ve seen grated toes, it ain’t a pretty site and you can completely lose a few in seconds ]

    My long term drivers wife died after she fell off her motorbike and hit her head, there have been countless people die the same way. I heard that on the night after the party that Al attended another guy also died coming home from the same party, fell off his bike and hit his head.

    PLEASE, respect yourself .. respect your family and loved one’s, don’t be too cool for school by believing you are invincible. Just think about how long you might spend in an ambulance in a traffic jam should you have an accident ? I guess if your dead then it makes no difference but what if you are not ? get the Medivac insurance because if the crash don’t kill you then the incorrect treatment might.

    Don’t take your kids on a bike without the proper helmet and footwear, if you want to kill yourself then I guess that’s your choice but how many kids have i seen on bikes who probably didn’t have a choice .. That really makes my blood boil.

  2. So true. I’ll move this up to it’s own post next week.

  3. thomasway says:

    RIP AB

    Just to add to the advice above, after 15 years riding bikes around Indonesia I finally paid the piper in February, in a low speed altercation with a tree. I was wearing all my safety gear but the handlebars went through both femurs. I was lucky – my accident was near home, shortly after I finished work. Within 30 minutes I had a group of colleagues helping me in ways that the ‘paramedics’ from the local hospital couldn’t. They saved my life that night.

    Two things I would note
    1) get good insurance that includes medivac
    2) Indonesians (perhaps asians?) don’t have blood clotting issues like caucasians, so doctors aren’t trained to look out for DVT. 2 weeks after Indonesian surgeons stabilised my legs, I nearly died from pulmonary embolism. I had clots in both legs from the hip to the ankle. Doctors elsewhere give you a DVT prophylaxis asap if you are bedridden for any length of time, or have leg trauma. Luckily because I had recently been provided with a good insurance policy for the first time in my life, I was airlifted to Singapore where, after a further 6 weeks in hospital, they sorted me out.

    Hope this knowledge might help someone out in future.

    Once again, RIP AB – the surfing world is a poorer place

  4. Never heard of that myself! I’ll bring this up too.

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