I have been riding my bike for just over three years now but recently experienced my first 'off'.
I had decided to become a #Festive 500 Christmas Athlete and brave the winter roads, after all I had my nice new shiny Kinesis CX bike that can handle anything - with added comfort too!
Day one was a disaster, I was 60km from home and double punctured. I had no choice but to call the support car, which was currently still in bed and not happy about trying to locate me in Kent lanes she had never seen before. I went home, got an earful about mud on the car seat and disappeared off into the mist of Christmas TV. I was not happy.
Day Two... was worse! A lot worse! I packed three tubes this time, cookies, apples, gels, a pump, a sneaky chocolate bar and set off listening to my bespoke Weller playlist. Positive vibes. The plan was to ride along the coast for 50km and then head back the same way, see how the legs felt and then head 50km the other way! The first 50km was achieved, after a gingerbread man cookie, sip of ice water I headed back in the direction of home feeling pleased and satisfied today was going well!
Legs were feeling great. The playlist had changed from Weller to Velvet Revolver, the cadence was picking up in response to the new tunes and the thoughts of a warm bath were beginning to settle in. I rode at a relaxed pace, attempting to take in roads I have ridden hundreds of times, people and buildings creating short stories being played out in my head - I start to indicate, the car behind is some distance back, I approach a small roundabout to turn right....BANG!
I woke up with a 6ft bloke tying a knot in a bandage around my head, my right eye had been covered like some mummified pirate - I had been out cold for 7-8 minutes. At this point I have no idea how I got onto the path, where I am, what has happened or how I am standing up ... "Where is my bike?!?!", "Who hit me", "Where am I". I catch a glimpse of my bike up against a garden wall, stumble over checking it is OK - it appears alright! "My Garmin is still running, I need to save my ride".
A police car turns up to assist. An ambulance can't come as they are too busy (must be a Christmas thing). An old lady takes my bike into her corner shop and promises to look after it. I am suddenly on the phone to Victoria (my partner) trying to explain what happened, where I am and to bring the drugs (Haemophilia - Factor 8). Blue sirens flashing, we fly down the motorway and the next few days are spent eating cold custard, MRI Scans and listening to Mr Browning talk about falling out of his bed to end his life (bless him!).
It turns out a pot hole was the cause of my accident. Those that ride will know you generally look through a corner when on the bike. I was not travelling at high speed, I was aware of my surroundings but failed to see the pot hole on the exit of the corner - evidently it was too late and a bump to the head later. That fall was enough to crack my crash helmet in two, scar my face, rip a muscle in my shoulder and pebble dash my legs.
Cycling is amazing. Do you remember a childhood program where the boy could pause time with a magic watch? To me cycling replicates that feeling - there are moments where time feels frozen, I forget the world is turning. It is this and many more reasons that cause the following mind set to the majority of cyclists, "When can I get back on my bike again Doc?".
This week was that time. I was allowed off the turbo and out into the wild. I have to say my confidence has been knocked, I descend with utmost caution and have found myself searching for routes that have more grass than concrete but this is OK! I expect to be nervous and I respect that. I want the bike to remind me that I was lucky and things could have been worse. I know I have a couple of weeks work to do to sort that out.
I have new goals for 2017. I have plans and desires I wish to complete, some that involve the bike and some that don't. My crash has not changed my life, thank god, but merely reminded me that things do go wrong but that is OK. As I tell my children (and stole from the Batman movie!!), "Why do we fall?"..."So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again".