24. November 2014 · Comments Off on CRASH! Or, crash lesson in Rule 5 · Categories: Crash, embrace the bike, Triathlon

Let’s get stuck in. It’s a swelteringly hot November day – yeah, that sounds awfully strange to me too. Sweltering in November? Remember, I just moved to Florida and am adjusting (and trying not to post sunshine pictures on Instagram every 2 hours).

And I want to go out on my bike. But today is supposed to be a rest day….

What? I want to ride my bike?!

Let’s back up here.


April 19 2014. 6 days after I ran the London Marathon in a very happy 3:24:32, feeling good, I set out to do a 100 mile ride. Ironman Lanzarote was just 5 weeks away.

It was a sunny 7°C / 44°F. Tom and I had driven to his parents’ house in Goodworth Clatford, Hampshire for the weekend in order to get some solid cycling in.   We were pretty lucky with the weather – it wasn’t raining. (It’s always raining in England, except when it isn’t. Which is seldom.)

I set out from my in-laws’ house in Goodworth Clatford, all by myself. Tom is much faster than I am so we were each going to do our own thing.

I felt good! Here is the photo evidence! I was going to smash that 100 miles! In fact, maybe I’d even do 112 miles for good measure!

Feeling good! I’m going to kill it! YEAH!


Km 105 / mile 65: I wish I could say a rabid badger jumped out at me. Or at least a swerving lorry. But no. It was nothing but a pothole, me and a bloody pothole that I didn’t notice until I was wheel deep, down on the aerobars with no brakes.


It might not have been QUITE this big.


I slammed out of that pothole and my left arm fell out of the aerobars. Here is a moment of honesty: I don’t have skills on the bike. I’m just hanging on for the ride. And this bronco wanted me off.

I had just been cresting a hill when I hit the pothole, so as I lost control the bike picked up speed on the descent. By some miracle (because I sure can’t claim skill), as I hit 45 km/h / 28 m/h, I ended up on the grassy verge and crashed into a tree.

I was pretty sure I was going to die. Or be permanently disabled. You don’t hit trees at that speed and walk away.

My front wheel and my helmet hit the tree. They saved my life. The force of the impact was taken by the fork and steerer tube. The steerer tube ripped through the head tube. Pretty impressive stuff. I flipped through the air and landed on my back.

I was alive.

My first thought was to dial an ambulance. But then I realised that despite living in the UK for 11 years, I couldn’t remember what number that is (turns out it’s 999). So then I called my father in law Chris and said in my best understated British-learned way, “I’m afraid I’ve had a bit of an accident.”

Anyone want to buy a fixer-upper?


Chris rescued me an hour later by car, along with Tom’s brother, and Tom eventually arrived too on his bike, desperate with relief that his worst fears about me cycling alone had come true and yet I was ok.

I was ok. I still fainted in the shower, though.


This was 5 weeks before Ironman Lanzarote. 30 weeks of training, 10-20 hour training weeks. And my thighs were a mass of hematoma and my bike frame was smashed beyond repair.


50 shades of purple and green!

50 shades of purple and green!

and yellow!


The happy ending to this is that I did manage to get back on the bike only a week later, my road bike this time, and complete my 100 mile ride in the pouring rain in the Wiggle Ups & Downs Sportive.  I even smiled (I promise it wasn’t just for the camera):

I love riding in the rain. I do. I DO. (Ok. I hate it.)


And Tom managed to get Trek to send me a crash replacement frame in a very slick black. But the fear still lingered, and I rode my road bike in Ironman Lanzarote. I’ll tell you about that another time.

But I’m pretty damned excited to be excited about the damned bike again.

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