On Friday morning I was cycling into work when I suffered a classic smidsy (“Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”) accident. Our church building is at the top of a hill, and before tackling the up, there is a fast down. I ride defensively down the hill, occupying the centre of the road to stop cars trying to push past me, and on Friday there wasn’t a car particularly close to me anyway, so I would have been very visible. But at the junction at the bottom of the hill a motorist pulled out without seeing me and collision was unavoidable. I could see what was going to happen and in the split second available tried to get into a position which would cause me the least amount of damage. So, rather than ploughing head-on into the car, I managed to twist the bike round somewhat and then kind of leapt over the bonnet before smacking down onto the tarmac.
My first thought was that this was not good, and that a number of things I had planned for the day would now no longer be happening. Also, that my participation in the Three Peaks Challenge (climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon in 24 hours) which I was due to begin this evening was going to be unlikely.
My next thought was a desire to get up and thump the driver, but that was impossible as I was not able to move. (Probably just as well!)
An off-duty policeman was on the scene almost immediately and took charge of things. An ambulance was there within minutes and an off-duty intensive care nurse also appeared and got involved helping to hold my head as the ambulance guys put me in a neck brace and strapped me to a board. All this took a while and I was lying on the road for about 50 minutes – acutely embarrassed by the scale of traffic jam I was causing.
Once in the ambulance my shirt was cut off, and shoes and socks removed, and it was at this point that my embarrassment increased. A couple of weeks back my daughters were painting their toenails and ambushed me, painting one of mine. It was very well applied, and hadn’t chipped or come off at all, and throughout the rest of the day I had to explain to nurses, doctors and assorted other passers-by exactly why it was I have one pink toenail.
If I had known I was going to get hit by a car I would have got the nail polish remover out.
Once I got to hospital the treatment was great. X-rays revealed nothing was broken, but there were concerns I had internal bleeding as my blood pressure kept plunging and I blacked out a couple of times. In the end this was put down simply to the fact that I had been on my back a long time, was dosed full of morphine, and that sitting up too quickly threw my blood pressure out of whack. I was admitted to a ward and thought I would have to spend the night in hospital, but by 10.30pm they said I could go, and I limped my way out.
I am still in a lot of pain – getting in and out of bed is agony – and am feeling pretty woozy, but that probably has a lot to do with the amount of meds I am taking. My bike needs some attention, but I have the drivers details so should be able to sort that out on his insurance. (Rather than wanting to hit him, I now feel rather sorry for him – it must have ruined his day too.) And I have the frustration of not doing the Three Peaks, which is doubly frustrating having had to pull out of the Brighton Marathon two months ago because of illness and injury.
Oh, and I still have a pink toenail, which I really must do something about.
But perhaps the main lesson for any cyclist reading this is, “Always wear a helmet.” I don’t like wearing one, but it did exactly what it is meant to do, taking the impact and cracking practically in half. I need a new helmet now, but at least it was the lid and not my head that got cracked. Without it things would have been a lot worse.