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.


  1. From Dr Robert Davis Chair Road Danger Reduction Forum:

    Sorry to hear this Martin. Best wishes for speedy recovery etc.

    I can't help noting that we know each other (and I look at this blog) because of your expertise and commitment on the well being of cyclists in the road environment. Yet the times you actually get badly hurt are quite different (no cars around, an inherently hazardous activity, your own "fault" in a way) from what we both regard as the issue we should be active on.

    Of course, one of the problems we face is that so many of the general public confuse cycle sport with cycling as a form of transport.

    May we look forward to lots of activity on the cycling as a form of transport, the failures of the law and its non-enforcement etc. area? I hope so.

    Meanwhile, since we have both loved the cycle sport arena, a couple of points:
    1. Do take your recovery easily. I would think that the time scale you put forward is too short. You have had a major trauma and it takes along time to get over this. So take it easier.
    2. When you are up and ready, there are always club runs, audaxes as well as sportives. If you are ready for a big ride, think of the Paris-Roubaix cyclo-sportif in June.

    It's all another kind of "fun"!

    See you up the road!

  2. Martin,
    Sorry to hear about this accident... I wondered where you had been. I echo the above good doctor's words and glad you're on the mend... Dr. D is also right - audax is the way to go fella!
    Get well soon and don't relapse over the ASA ruling on Cycling Scotland's advert.
    Gavin S.

  3. Get well soon,
    You've been missed.

  4. Sorry to hear of your misfortune Martin. I reluctantly stopped racing after 2 crashes in 3 races at Hillingdon in 2011. I hope you continue to recover quickly,


  5. Get well soon, I wish you a speedy recovery...

  6. Having suffered broken ribs from an embarrassing slow speed fall on ice last year I can sympathise with you there.

  7. Ouches (multiple).

    Wishing you a speedy recovery, it sounds horrible!

  8. Wishing you a speedy recovery/

  9. So Sorry to hear about the crash, hope recovery is complete, Cheers Adrian

  10. Oww. Nasty crash, hope you recover fully soon. Take it easy tho.

  11. Martin

    I hope you have a speedy recovery. I really admire your attitude and perspective on all this.


  12. Yikes! Sounded a really serious smash - Probably a good thing you don't remember the 'gory details'. Glad you're fit and well again!