Saturday, January 4, 2014

F4 4/4 Final part of my #festive500

Falling and failing.
But let's begin with frosty.
In fact this wasn't planned to be the final ride. This was to be the middle kicker to take me towards the 300km mark and then with 2 days to follow I had two metric century rides planned.
It had been a cold and clear night, with frost patterns lying thick on the cars parked along the roads. I really like the frosty kiss on paintwork; any vehicle is turned into an icy tribute to dazzle camouflage.
Layering up I set off to the Sunday club meeting point and waited until a lonely figure came along the road.

 So, just the two of us today then. Myself and a new lad, Liam.
a quick chinwag and we were off. Given the freshness of the day I thought we would press on to a cafe a close 20 miles away, then see how we felt after that and decide the rest of the route following.
Passing through Usk and along the Llansoy gliding club straight there were a few patches of icy puddles dotted along the road. Liam and I discussed the merits of mountain bike tyres versus road tyres on ice and slush, and I half wished I had come out on the cyclocross bike. Only half wished, mind. I enjoyed the mudguards and the absence of a wet arse on the road bike.
Through Raglan and the sun was kissing us with some warmth as we headed towards Mitchel Troy and the cafe a little bit along.
Coming down towards Skew Bridge we remarked how this side of the (main) road had seen more sun and was less icy.
Oh the irony.
I was a good few lengths ahead of Liam when I saw a thick rime of icy slush across the road.
Flagging the danger to him with my right hand I began braking with the back brake. The further I travelled the more ice I could see.
There was no chance I was going to touch the front brake, there lay a guaranteed crash.
The problem now was that I had been travelling at a reasonable pace; that section is downhill and we had been rolling along at a good lick to begin with.
With a car coming the other way I couldn't head across the line to what appeared to be only wet road.
I made the decision to head towards the grass verge, in the hope I would get better purchase as I got closer to it.
I never made it that far.
Liam said afterwards that the bike fishtailed suddenly and then I went down.
That sounds about right.
With the bike sliding out to my right I went down hard on my left side.
Head, shoulder, back, hips, then a roll and head, shoulder and arm on my right side.
The speed at which it happened was what shocked me the most. In comparison to the Mallorcan crash where it all seemed slow and somewhat bouncy, this was a vivid slam of body into unyielding road.
Bang, bang, bang and stop.
I lay there staring up at the underside of the bridge.
There is a series of checks that you go through after a crash, motorcyclists do it, and I'm pretty cure cyclists do it.
You get your breath back and then check the vitals. Can I wiggle my toes? Can I wiggle my hands? Can I see? Breathe? Hear?
It's a brief pause from the situation and after that is when, for me at least, the pain begins.
Lying there under that bridge this felt bad. I'd normally be quick to try and move from where I lay but for what seemed like minutes I lay there trying to get some composure.
With my feet and legs onto the kerb and the rest of me perpendicular into the road I was struggling.
A motorist had stopped and after checking whether we wanted him to stay, proffered the advice; 'you best get out of the road, mind you don't get run over'.
I'll try, was my response.
I did. Moving up and sitting myself against the bridge walls as a couple of ladies came down from the nearby house.
The smile hides the worries and the shock. It's always best to keep these things in check until something can be done about them.
One of the ladies, or it might have been Liam, had fetched my hat from the road. It had stopped any abrasion but I could feel I had taken a proper bang to the head. I could also feel my shoulder ached and felt crunchy. My hip and back felt hot with pain.
None of these things were good.
Liam and the two ladies took turns in talking to the ambulance control centre until a paramedic, Phil, arrived.
I'll spare the details but after ascertaining I hadn't broken my back and various other checks I was helped into the paramedic car whilst my girlfriend arrived to tidy the bike up.
I was and am so grateful to those two ladies, and Liam whilst I waited. It's hard to convey that when you're the centre of attention as it were. Thank you.
The afternoon was spent in A&E with various checks, X-rays and pills administered.
With my shoulder too swollen to truthfully diagnose, and with my back and hip given the all clear I was allowed out. It wasn't that I wanted to leave, and was in two minds when the staff nurse said she wanted to keep me in overnight, but my friends Jason and his clubmate, Sian had come down to race in the Velodrome that evening and I was desperate to find a positive in the day.
Fast forward several hours, easy if you're on tramadol, and we are down the Newport Velodrome getting ready to watch Jason in his first race.
With the air still thick of Derney bike exhaust fumes they set off. I couldn't tell you what race it was, and I certainly can't remember now.
After settling in and finding a programme for the evening it began to get exciting. The meet had brought out a whole range of riders; from league riders through to National and Olympic big guns.
Jason was next up in a mens Keirin heat. The Derney bike thrumming around and bringing smoke, noise and speed to the wooden boards. Jason got his power on but it wasn't to be.
As the night rolled on there was more and more racing. Sweat, effort and speed from all who entered the wooden boards.
Sian had a great final ride in the ladies Keirin. Sat on the wheel of the Derney with Katie Archibald and Dani King behind. How many times would she get a chance to ride with that calibre of rider. She finished truly empty. Her face showing a mix of emotions, from joy and excitement through to dismay. But what an experience.
With time called on the meet the assembled riders dispatched themselves and kit out of the velodrome, and the boards settled down once again.
I didn't make my target of 500km. I failed to complete. I experienced pain and suffering which I've not had before on the bike, or as a result of it.
Next year, maybe.

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