A Ride in the Dark Peak – The Accident – Part 1

It’s been a while since my last post, partly because life recently has been in the habit of getting in the way, but in particular as from mid-October I’ve been, and still am, in the process of recovery from a cycle accident.

Here’s the story so far…

Friday, 17th October

I always look forward to going for a bike ride with David. We usually cover a greater mileage than when I go out with the club, but at a more civilised pace. And we get to try out different routes knowing that we don’t have any deadlines to keep to.

And today we decided to head into the Dark Peak. I’d only ever ridden here once before, a few weeks prior to Le Grand Depart. The club chose a route that headed north out of Sheffield, passed through Oughtibridge, Midhopestones, crossed the Stocksbridge by-pass, passed a few resevoirs (don’t ask me to name them) and eventually returned through Bamford and Hathersage on the way back to Dronfield.

But today I was aiming to reverse the route, more-or-less. I’d planned to get to the Hope Valley, cut over to the Snake Pass at Bamford, head back towards Sheffield and take Mortimer Road over Strines Moor. There were plenty of uppy-downy bits just the way we like it…

About two hours into the ride, we found ourselves descending towards Agden Bridge – it is literally just a bridge that crosses Agden Dike and it’s in the middle of nowhere. As usual, David was out front being the quicker descender, me about 50 yards behind. It was a reasonable gradient, not the steepest, but enough to know you needed to keep your wits about you, and the road was slightly wet/damp.

The road was getting steeper and as I was picking up speed I noticed a dip coming up, and feeling I was going fast enough to possibly go airborne I kept off the brakes to avoid the possibility of locking up the front wheel – not good when you land.

Great idea, but not so great when you don’t realise how close you’re getting to a sharp right-hand bend you’ve not spotted. David, on the other hand, had spotted it and had lost enough speed to negotiate it. What I found was that I had rapidly caught him up and needed space between him and the verge. I think I shouted something like “inside!” but the gap was too narrow and I kept applying greater pressure to the front brake lever – to the point where the front wheel locked and slid away from me. Down I went.

I’m sure it won’t come as any great surprise, but I’ve crashed a few times. Usual scenario is some abrasions to hips, thighs, knees and ankles and that’s about it. Two/three weeks later the scabs have fallen off and there’s only a pink bit or two as evidence of the fall.

But today was going to be different.

I remember starting to slide, followed very quickly by a sharp, forceful crack to the back of the head, it hurt even through the barrier of the helmet. I also recall the autumnal leaves and black soil/mud which appeared to be flying past me, although in reality it was the other way round.

Damaged Crash Helmet

Damaged Crash Helmet

Damaged Jersey

One very messed up jersey

The sliding was over. I lay very still. I had no urge to leap up. I think I was mentally feeling over my body, checking out any areas for pain. None.

I was lying on my left side and raised myself up using my left arm, my right arm tucked into my side. I don’t think I was very aware of my surroundings as I can’t remember how I ended up sitting on the back seat of a ladies car with my feet on the ground.

I must have registered pain in my right elbow by now, because I was trying to see what damage there was, but elbows are tricky to inspect when they’re your own. But as it was David appeared and suggested I didn’t try to look.

I remember seeing a man directing what little traffic there was and it was this same man who sent his wife on up to their house, only a few hundred yards away, to call an ambulance,as he knew no one would be able to pick up a mobile signal.

The only other thing I recall, while waiting for the ambulance, was getting off the back seat and going round the back of the ladies vehicle. What for I don’t know, but it brought on faintness and nausea, so I returned to the back seat and laid down with my arm resting on my hip and thigh – it was the only comfortable position.

The ambulance and a paramedic vehicle turned up about three quarters of an hour later, simulteaneously from opposite directions. Apparently three medical vehicles attended, but I don’t recall the third one.

I do remember discussing with David whether the ambulance could take my bike to Northern General Hospital Sheffield, but the gentleman who had directed traffic (turns out he was a retired police officer) suggested leaving the bike at his house for collection when I was ready to do so. And that’s the plan we went with.

David offered to cycle back to my place, pick up some stuff for a hospital stay and bring it to me at the Northern General. What a star!

Before the medical team had arrived I’d indicated my neck was sore to turn and my ribs were painful, so taking no chances they immobilised my neck and put me on a board. I thanked the lady who had stopped and provided me with somewhere to rest and unfortunately left her with blood on the back seat. David tried to get her number so flowers could be sent as a thank you but she wouldn’t hear of it.

Once inside the ambulance I was given morphine – small dose to avoid vomiting whilst laid on my back.

And off we went to hospital – it took nearly an hour.

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