Wednesday 29 January 2014

My last race

I have been out of action lately and many have been kind enough to enquire after me.  It seems simplest to post an update here.
I was racing in the E/1/2/3 Imperial Winter Series event at Hillingdon on 4th January.  Something happened in the early laps and my next recollection is being in St Mary's Hospital, Paddington with a kindly Consultant Anaesthetist seeking my consent for the insertion of a spinal epidural.  It was necessary as I had a flail chest (multiple rib fractures including a few ribs fractured twice) so without good pain relief there would have been a risk of shallow breathing leading to chest infection.  My left lung was punctured and collapsed.  Against that the grade III separated shoulder, mangled elbow, battered hip and extensive road rash barely mattered.
The bang to the left side of the head, possibly coupled with copious quantities of morphine, leave me with no real clue what happened but mercifully no head injury.  I must have hit the tarmac hard and/or had my chest rode over when on the ground.  Apparently an air ambulance was called out but not used.
I got the greatest possible care, all on the NHS, in the Major Trauma Ward at St Mary's from an impressive range of consultants and nurses but I must have made a difficult patient for a week, frustrated at being tethered by numerous tubes and lines whilst the blood was being drained from my chest cavity.
On 11th I was finally out of hospital and immediately celebrated by taking the dog for a slow wheezy walk.
The following weekend I took my daughters for a slow wheezy bike ride in the park.
Yesterday (28th) I took myself for a solo spin in the park.
Tomorrow I start physiotherapy on my shoulder.
I have been back working full time for the past week or so.
My hospital review, by which time I very much hope to be pain free and back properly on the bike, is mid February.  I will be in Spain for a week at the end of February with clubmates to kick start getting back into riding.
Obviously I have had to recalibrate my plans.  I had hoped to get into a state to compete seriously in the Masters 50+ road race in the summer.  I now plan to get myself into a fit state for the Marmotte and the Etape du Tour in July.  I have taken the (for me very sad, for others hugely welcome) decision not to race again.  I enjoyed it but was not terribly good at it.  After many years of incident free racing I have now crashed twice in 15 months and cannot rule out slowing reactions or an increasing inability to bounce off tarmac as affecting my odds.  (After my last crash I decided to avoid 4th cats and bunch sprints but that did not suffice).  The decision as to whether or not to accept the risks of racing has to be a personal one and I would hate my experience to put anyone else off.  On balance and with ordinary luck racing is a good thing.  I may get into time-trialling both individual and team.
For the cyclists among you I had better add that my severely damaged bike is at Condor awaiting replacement frame, forks, bars, pedals, rear wheel, saddle and seatpost.  Helmet, clothing (save club kit which seems to be hardest) , chest strap and glasses all now replaced.  Really though none of that material stuff matters any thing like as much as good health.
To try and take a positive from it I have a heightened appreciation of many things in life and unlike so many passing through that hospital ward, I will be making a full recovery.
I will keep you posted on my preparations for the sportives.