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Spanish cyclist escapes, six guards don't

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Spanish cyclist escapes, six guards don't

Old 01-22-14, 04:51 AM
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Caretaker
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Spanish cyclist escapes, six guards don't

This news item in today's Guardian newspaper has got me thinking about the morality of touring in an area where you need an armed guard.

I'm sure the cyclist (presumably touring) in question is feeling bad today and feeling to some degree responsible for the deaths of six and injuries to others.

Whatever the reasons for someplace being too dangerous to tour maybe it's time to say 'give it a miss till the situation improves' and choose a different route.

Gunmen shot dead six guards protecting a Spanish cyclist on Wednesday in a violent and remote area of western Pakistan where a bus bomb killed 24 Shia pilgrims a day earlier.

The cyclist, who suffered minor wounds, had crossed into Pakistan's western province of Baluchistan from Iran, they said. Six guards were wounded.

Police said they did not know why he was cycling through such a dangerous area. He was assigned the escort by security forces because the province is plagued by kidnappers, Taliban militants, a violent separatist insurgency, sectarian killers, paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers.

Two young Czech women taking the same route by bus were kidnapped in March and are still being held.

The cyclist and his guards were travelling through Mastung district when gunmen attacked. "Six of our security men have been killed trying to save the Spanish cyclist, who has suffered minor injuries," said Shafqat Anwar Shawani, the assistant police commissioner for Mastung district. One attacker was also killed, he said.
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Old 01-22-14, 05:47 AM
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I certainly wouldn't be keen on riding somewhere that I felt the need for six armed guards. Especially when you consider the number of other places one could ride in the world.
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Old 01-22-14, 05:57 AM
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Caretake, Common sense and moral responsibility are both in short supply these days. RIP to the guards that were forced to escort the cyclist.

Brad
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Old 01-22-14, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by bradtx View Post
Caretake, Common sense and moral responsibility are both in short supply these days. RIP to the guards that were forced to escort the cyclist.

Brad
To be fair, many world cyclists have traveled through Pakistan without incident. Rarely do we here the whole story, maybe the appointed guards drew attention to the cyclist who on his own may not have been in any danger.
To use common sense, as you mention, one should avoid traveling in Texas because of all the road deaths including the large number of hit and run incidents.
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Old 01-22-14, 04:49 PM
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Originally Posted by duckbill View Post
To be fair, many world cyclists have traveled through Pakistan without incident. Rarely do we here the whole story, maybe the appointed guards drew attention to the cyclist who on his own may not have been in any danger.
To use common sense, as you mention, one should avoid traveling in Texas because of all the road deaths including the large number of hit and run incidents.
If I were told that a squad of armed guards would be required to escort me, I'd reconsider the route. Texas does rank around 4th in bicycle fatalities in number, but further down percentage wise when the state's population is considered. Texas' population is primarily in a handful of population centers http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811743.pdf . Ontario did better than Texas in total number of cyclist deaths http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/engli...view.html#data .

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Old 01-22-14, 04:51 PM
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The cycling there must be AMAZING to warrant taking such a large risk to cycle through there.
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Old 01-23-14, 08:05 AM
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For what it is worth:
His web site: http://www.coloradoontheroad.com/index.html
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Old 01-23-14, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by duckbill View Post
To be fair, many world cyclists have traveled through Pakistan without incident. Rarely do we here the whole story, maybe the appointed guards drew attention to the cyclist who on his own may not have been in any danger.
To use common sense, as you mention, one should avoid traveling in Texas because of all the road deaths including the large number of hit and run incidents.
I've made it a lifelong policy to avoid Texas for several reasons anyway.
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Old 01-23-14, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Caretaker View Post
This news item in today's Guardian newspaper has got me thinking about the morality of touring in an area where you need an armed guard.

I'm sure the cyclist (presumably touring) in question is feeling bad today and feeling to some degree responsible for the deaths of six and injuries to others.

Whatever the reasons for someplace being too dangerous to tour maybe it's time to say 'give it a miss till the situation improves' and choose a different route.
Without wishing to come across as overly dramatic or make too much of it, for the past twenty-five years I have lived and worked on a lower-income higher-crime area of a big city. I HATE the way we cede real estate to bad people.

With all due respect to those guards and the government of Pakistan, they probably had choices. Might be the best thing that could happen to back country Pakistan would be thousand of tourists coming through.

Likewise, living where they did, it seems unlikely that those guards were/would have been living secure and peaceful lives othewise.

JMHO,
Mike
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Old 01-23-14, 11:22 AM
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I think he may not have had too many options for traveling through that part of the world. He is on a cycle-around-the-world tour. I'd imagine that region is far safer then, say, going through Afghanistan instead. As previously mentioned, many other people have traveled safely through the area. I recently finished a book about the guy who raced around the world on his bike and he too had a police escort - for several days, in fact - as he passed through a dangerous region known for kindnappings, murders, insurgents etc. So not unheard of, but with a dozen guards they may have thought he was a person of interest, not just some cyclist.
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Old 01-23-14, 12:41 PM
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Plenty of places to go in the world that don't need armed guards.
Plenty of places to go in the world that need armed guards.

Choice is entirely up to you. The world isn't as scary as of a place as it's made out to be by the media, but it can be pretty darn close sometimes.
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Old 01-24-14, 10:39 AM
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I guess I have slightly different initial reaction after shock of this event...

I think a bit more about "where exactly is my threshold on dangerous for touring?". I used to have a book about "dangerous places" and it rated each country on a 1-5 scale with 5 being most dangerous. From the description at travel.state.gov - Pakistan reads like a "5" and I doubt I'd cycle with those cautions. However, I've cycled some 3s and thought about some others. It is perhaps a bit of a polly-anna approach but a lone cycle tourist going through the countryside is both vulnerable and also not very obvious a threat to others. Hence, I get the sense of risk to things like robbery but not necessarily ambush.

In this case, I don't get the sense Javier crossed the border and decided he needed a guard escort... instead, I suspect the locals decided for him. That likely made him appear a bit less vulnerable, though (my speculation) an armored patrol also appears as more of a threat than lone cyclist. I don't know if that also played into the attack. I also guess that he didn't purposely seek out dangerous places to cycle, but instead was seeking an around the world route. While there are some alternatives one could have considered (in hindsight), going from Turkey/Iran would have likely meant going further north which has two issues (a) it is January and colder further north and (b) visas can be a little more challenging in some of the central Asian republics. So while it is easy to look in hindsight and comment "that was stupid", I think of it more as an unintentional situation than something by intent. He did learn from this and skip rest of Pakistan.

My threshold is below the "5" countries and the warnings in the State Department pages would have scared me off of Pakistan at this point... but my threshold also isn't all in cycling "1" countries either. So I have a little more "there but for the grace of god go I" sympathy in reading of this account - since even in normally "safer" countries, things can occasionally develop unexpectedly.
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Old 01-24-14, 10:42 AM
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So, is it Paaah keee stahn or Pah ki stan?
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Old 01-24-14, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by bmontgomery87 View Post
I've made it a lifelong policy to avoid Texas for several reasons anyway.
Warrants? Statute of limitations? All your exes?
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Old 01-24-14, 05:07 PM
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Around here the educated say Pack iss stan. Same rhythm as puritan. No idea or interest in whether that is correct or not. It is correct if enough of the right people pronounce it that way.

Yeah, either they don't shoot or bomb very well, or they actually wanted the guards, and not the cyclist.

I am somewhat opposed to trips that have some nazi purity aesthetic built in. There was a period in climbing when the perfect line was described as following the fall of a drop of water. I prefer a line that is great, over a goal that is pointless.
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Old 01-24-14, 07:39 PM
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This didn't hit the news where I am.

So, how many bad guys got taken out?

If someone is dumb enough to act as bait, and it draws out the bad guys.....maybe this isn't a bad thing.


As for me, I have been shot and I highly recommend not doing it. It wasn't fun.
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Old 01-25-14, 02:58 AM
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Chicago has lots of shooting murders, DC has beat downs on their paths, LA has muggings on it's bike paths, several hit and run deaths of cyclist throughout the USA. Do you folks also blame that violence on the cyclist as well. Is it their fault that criminals acted illegally.

It really gets old hearing some blame victims for the acts of criminals.
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Old 01-26-14, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Warrants? Statute of limitations? All your exes?
Texans mainly.
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Old 01-26-14, 03:27 PM
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I would have expected the Guardian to lay blame on US foreign policy.
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Old 01-26-14, 03:46 PM
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During my years as an investigator of crimes in the diamond and jewelry industry, I was asked to travel to Colombia to research a gang that had been preying on traveling jewelers all over the world. The trip would require an armed guard, as Colombia is apparently one of the most dangerous places for an American to travel. How arrogant, I thought, for me to expect another human being to risk his life so I could earn a day's pay.

So why should anybody feel entitled to an armed guard while taking a leisure ride?
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Old 01-28-14, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by bmontgomery87 View Post
i've made it a lifelong policy to avoid texas for several reasons anyway.
+1

: D
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