If you ride a bike, you’re occasionally going to fall off or be knocked off it. It’s an irrefutable fact that however much care and attention you take, other road users may not take the same. I’ve been riding my road bike just over six years and in that time I’ve been knocked off my bike twice by irresponsible car drivers, been downed by fellow riders inadvertently taking out my front wheel and fallen countless times through my own fault and lack of experience.
The contretemps with the cars, both driven by women, were not serious largely because I was able to take last-minute evasive action. Sometimes it just pays to be a slow and steady rider. Most of my falls have been sudden: on the bike one minute, on the floor the next. This is much the best way as you’ve no time to save yourself. I’ve fortunately had no high-speed crashes and haven’t broken anything. All these falls have just added to the large patchwork of existing scarring on my knees and elbows. Badges of honour for any cyclist.
When my little Cup Cake started racing last year his father, a professional cyclist, kissed the tarmac while riding downhill at speed and left most of the skin from the left side of his body on the road. That was supremely painful and took a while to mend. Not unnaturally, his son asked me about falling. I said that it was going to happen but he shouldn’t focus on it or worry about it, it was all part and parcel of becoming a cyclist. His dad concurred.
I don’t normally ride when it’s rained heavily, the roads are still wet and it looks as if it’ll rain again. Sunday was different. I’ve hardly been able to ride all week and, after a long ride on Saturday, was looking forward to a leisurely ride with a girlfriend. My beloved surprisingly elected to join us but we hadn’t been riding for long when the heavens opened. Deciding that half an hour’s exercise was better than none, we bade farewell to my girlfriend and headed for coffee at one of our regular watering holes. We then rode home.
In order to reach the Domaine, we drop down to a roundabout with an interesting camber. Hit it just right and you get swung round almost 360 degrees to the exit for the Domaine at speed. Recognising that the road was wet and slippery, I braked well before hitting the roundabout, but evidently not enough. As I was zooming round, I felt my front wheel go and that’s pretty much my last memory until I found myself back in the apartment examining my war wounds.
My beloved, who was riding directly behind me, saw it happen in slow-motion. The bike went from underneath me, I went down on my left shoulder, slid along on my left side and then my head slammed into the road. Quite by chance, the owner of my local bike shop was driving just behind us – what service! I vaguely remember his family peering at me with concern. My beloved said I was out cold for several minutes and eschewed the paramedics, given that I have a number of doctors as neighbours. My LBS owner loaded us and the bikes into his car and drove us home. My beloved says I asked him five times if my bike was okay. It was, but the white handlebar tape now needs replacing, as does my broken helmet. I do not remember any of that.
I just remember feeling various aches and pains as I entered the apartment and stripped off my cycling kit. I had contusions and road rash on my elbow, thigh and knee on the left side, my head ached and I felt really chilly. I got into bed, sent a couple of emails and tweets and went to sleep for an hour or so. I had pre-prepared lunch but thought it would be easier if my husband ate what I had in mind for dinner, I gave him instructions and cuddled up under the duvet.
After a couple of hours in bed, I migrated to the sofa to watch the afternoon’s sporting action MotoGP from Misano, the final stage of the Vuelta, the first stage of the Tour of Britain and the GP Montreal. I dozed on and off but got up to finish my beloved’s dinner – can’t have him starving to death! I opted for an early night, still feeling slightly woozy.
The alarm went off at 05:15 this morning and I felt well enough to run my beloved to the airport. I’ve since discovered a few more aches and pains. I can barely turn my head to the right – a spot of whiplash. My left shoulder feels very sore and, while there’s plenty of bruising, I’ve not broken anything apart from my right thumbnail which has ruined a perfect set of nails – all my own. My road rash has scabbed and is healing nicely. I’ll live. My head’s still throbbing but the workmen replacing the water columns haven’t been drilling too much in my vicinity this morning – thanks boys.