It had been a great couple of weeks really, all things considered.
My riding and fitness had been improving steadily through the year and I was pleased with my progression. A Wales trip to Afan was the cherry on the cake at the beginning of October, proving that all the miles in the saddle, all the magazines and on line movie clips absorbed and all the thoughts and dreams of going that little bit faster really can pay off.
With winter approaching, I had decided that a hardtail was a worth while investment. A great training aid and a way to focus more attention on riding efficiently and sympathetically. I thought that once I was able to nail the local trails quickly on it, going back to the full susser would be a breeze, and ultimately give me more confidence, control and speed in the Spring.
I decided on the frame and priced the build. Decision made, I took one final look on eBay, only to find virtually my dream build already existed and was ready for collection only a few miles away! After some cheeky banter and lengthy negotiating the bike was on it’s way home with me. I was ecstatic.
That night I met up with my local riding group, The Muddymoles, and went out on a test run. I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting on that maiden voyage but I was left with mixed feelings. Most notably: excitement, fear, frustration and finally, pain.
On the flat she flew. Accelerated like lightening. Climbed well, although I needed to set her up properly and make loads of adjustments and possibly put a longer stem on.
I wasn’t prepared for the twitchy rear end and pneumatic drill like ass pounding. Riding rough ground seated wasn’t an option it seemed, and towards the end of one particularly long, fast rough decent (China Pig) the rear end hit a root and the effect was like that of Newtons Cradle. Solid rear end hit my rear end and I was ejected into the nearby trees, with the bike and a new set of V12’s landing on my right calf.
I limped home to reconsider things.
Over the next 10 days I rode over 100 miles on much smoother XC terrain. I ‘found’ myself on the bike and really began to get to grips with a new riding style. Using smart phone apps these days is so easy, and I had been doing time trials of a great 21 mile XC route I can do right from my door step. 90% off road with some great trails and some very challenging climbs going from Epsom, across the downs to Headley, across the common to Box Hill, down to Mickleham, up across the hills to Bocketts Farm, down to Leatherhead then heading back up Alsation, across Tyrell’s Wood golf course to Pebble Lane, through Addlestead Wood, Langley Vale, across the Downs and then Home.
Sunday morning saw my wife and I up at 5am as we had to drop a friend back at Gatwick for an early morning flight. Arriving back at the house around half seven my wife naturally went back to bed. I on the other hand was feeling wide awake and saw a window of opportunity for an early morning blast on my bike.
Determined to beat my previous times I set off fast along my familiar route. Once on top of Box Hill the idea of attempting China Pig decent entered my mind. I felt good. Confident, solid and fast, and ready to face my gremlin again.
Turning sharp right at Smith & Western I dropped my saddle and began the fast technical trail. I was flying and feeling really good on the bike. Twisting and turning, balancing the bike well and skipping the rear over the worst of the lumps and bumps.
I’m not sure exactly what happened next but it ended with me down on the left side of the bike, my legs either side of the top tube and the impact being taken solely by my crutch.
I waited for the pain to kick in. It didn’t come. I systematically checked the rest of me to find only small bruising and cuts. Impossible I thought. I should be screaming with pain having had such a hard impact right in my privates. I was confused. I stood up and checked the bike over. Everything seemed fine. I jumped back on and began to cycle on, not really believing my own luck. Or is it stupidity?
After a few hundred meters though I felt a warm, thick stickiness in my shorts. Something wasn’t right after all. I got to the stile at the bottom of Juniper and did a quick pants check. Blood, and lots of it. S*@t! I was only 9 miles in to a 21 mile ride. It was 7am on a Sunday and my Wife was asleep at home with no chance of finding me. I decided that this was a case of mind over matter. I was hurt but felt fine. I needed to get home, and seeing the injury wasn’t going to help. I had to block it out and press on. Then reassess things when home.
So that’s what I did. I pressed on fast. After a few miles I knew the bleeding was bad. My pants and base layer 3/4’s were sodden and the shorts were too. Nice white saddle now distictley red. I put it out of my mind focussing on getting home. Some steeper climbs proved difficult as I had to stand up on the peddles. It was at this point I had the distinct impression that the blood was coming from the end of my ‘you know what’ Never going to be a good thing is it.
I put my head down and zoned out. Pedal, breathe, pedal, breathe. Time passed and eventually I was home. Amazingly in record time. 21 miles 1 hour 44 minutes average speed 11.9mph.
I put the bike away and went inside. Woke Jen gently and gave her the good news/bad news option. “Good news is I broke my PB! Bad news is I’ve hurt myself badly I think. Gonna need to go to A&E”
I got in the shower and stripped off. Blood was pouring from me. Like the morning after a night on the beer, only in red. I nearly fainted at the site of it. I’d lost a lot and was feeling weak. I showered off and packed the area with gauze, pulled on some track pants and Jen drove me to hospital.
After waiting around for what seemed an age, lying almost naked on the bed, holding myself, the Doctor came to inspect. No external cuts. Internal damage from a straddle injury. Ruptured Urethra but unsure to what degree. Cleaned up, E.C.G. Exam, Ultrasound, Prostate inspection.
Then fitted with a catheter which was excruciating and laid to rest back on the bed. I then got transferred to St Heliers for observation. Hospitals are a humbling place to visit let alone stay. Extremely uncomfortable night spent feeling as though I was rigged up to some sort of torture machine. Kept having visions of nurses walking past and catching their feet in the catheter tubing and pulling me off the bed by my Johnson!
Anyway, I’m very happy to say that I am now home, catheter free and relatively mobile all things considered. I have been forced into taking time off work which is really bad for our company as we are all owner operators, but accidents happen. I will have to take it easy for a while and tone down my competitive nature. As my sister so eloquently put it, biking is a recreation and not a job, and at 36 it’s a little late to be turning Pro no?
The moral of the story? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s to enjoy your riding and on occasion, push your limits, but know the risks involved and be prepared for them, as they can, and quite possibly will take you out.
Will I get back on the horse?
Your damn right. 🙂