Cycling into a bollard, Garmin, and Google Earth
Dennis broke his arm, then Alan broke his hip, then one month ago today, Mrs Taylor broke two ribs and dislocated her shoulder. All through not paying enough attention when on two wheels. Dennis wasn't quite 'cycling' but near enough, I think Alan was in the process of trying to cycle, and Sandra was actually cycling when she hit a bollard.
She had an operation on Friday, three days ago, to reset her clavicle and repair the ligaments that hold it in position – or something along those lines. We live in Bolton but the casualty department at the Royal Bolton Hospital always seems to have a full waiting room (of people showing no visible signs of injury) and a four hour wait at least, so we went to a hospital in Chorley. It was Sunday so there was a long wait there too, but Chorley Hospital has Mr Hughes, who specialises in repairing shoulders and is an expert surgeon, so Chorley was a good choice.
Sandra didn't actually fall off. She's an experienced cyclist and we were on the fourth day of an eleven day cycle tour of Holland in September. She did what we probably all do every now and then: admiring the view. It was some horses in a field and she's also an experienced horse rider. She owned a part-bred Arab mare for over thirty years, which died of old age in 2009. So she was looking sideways at some horses as she rode along a cycle path and didn't expect a bollard right in the centre. If it hadn't been a collapsible one her injuries would have been worse. She smacked into it, snapping off her left front brake and denting the pedal, then crashed down on the ground with her shoulder coming down on the handlebars (I think). Her head also hit the ground, but thankfully not too hard; we hadn't taken our helmets to Holland.
I was twenty yards in front and heard the crack of the bollard as it collapsed, then a shout from Sandra. I turned, stopped, rode back a few yards and put my bike on the verge, then went to sort her out. The rest of the story is on page 2 of my tour writeup. Really, she sorted herself out and we completed our tour with a little help from the train and a very kind Dutch couple who we stayed with the night after she crashed.
It's only this past weekend, four weeks later with Sandra recovering from her operation, that I downloaded our track from my Garmin and viewed it in Google Earth. There are two tracks: the one we planned and uploaded to the Garmin to follow in Holland, and the one which shows where we actually cycled. The images here are from Google Earth and are much clearer when clicked through to Flickr.
Strangely, the red line (our planned track) goes right through the bollard. It was Sandra who found this route on a Dutch website.
Behind the wooden fence in the photograph is where the horses were prancing. The black bollard is not the one Sandra rode into – that is in the centre of the cycle path a little to the right of the picture.
Someone has since suggested to me that the front rider (in a pair) should warn the one behind when they see obstacles in the way. Much as I would prefer to have prevented the accident, I don't agree, unless they are cycling very close and the front one is obscuring the view ahead. One rider can't be responsible for the other. We shout to each other only when there's glass on the road.
Sandra now has a synthetic ligament fixed on, which will stay there permanently to hold down her clavicle. The small titanium screw can come out later if it causes problems. The surgeon commented on the smallness of her bones compared to the rugby types he normally treats, and he had to look around for a smaller screw. She should make a full recovery but is unlikely to be cycling before Christmas.
When one of my sons and I were cycling the Rivington 100 in August we were going along a wide footpath and he hit a big lamp post in the centre. He'd been looking down at his chain. Luckily he only caught it with his brake lever, which got skewed round the handlebar. As people say, it could have been worse.