Thursday, 21 March 2013

Cycle Challenge Catastrophe

Arrived home yesterday on crutches and will be hopping around for the next few months. Many of you know from Lea's post that I had a cycling accident. I thought I would give you a first hand account of what happened.

Sunday began ominously when changing my wheels over I lost my fast gears and speedometer. I lined up with some trepidation about having to compete with only my small cog over a 95 km hilly course. To make matters worse there was some moisture in the air which I knew could mean slippery roads later in the morning.

Having paid my $65 I hoped for the best which unfortunately was not how it ended up.

The first 20 km [13 miles] was a fast ride down State Highway 1. Just before the first big climb some riders came down in front of me resulting in my going over them. I picked myself up off the road with some cuts and scrapes to my right elbow and charged up the Paekakariki Hill passing what was probably about 25 riders.

At the top I latched on to about 10 riders who I remained with for the next 70 km [45 miles]. I was feeling quite good and was on for a respectable time. Just before the Akatarawa Summit I put in a burst that took me ahead of my bunch.

Going over the Summit I was aware that my gearing would make it difficult to keep the lead I had made on my group.

With the wet roads descending became treacherous and on one of the bends my wheels slid from under me and I landed with full impact onto my left hip, finishing up in the middle of the road. As I tried to pick myself up the pain was intense and I quickly realised I wasn't going anywhere fast and my ride was over for the day.

Thankfully 2 riders stopped, checked on me and warned other riders that I was on the road. Both riders stayed with me for the next 45 minutes while I awaited medical assistance.

With a lot of pain I slid over to the side of the road and waited and waited. Getting assistance to me was difficult because of the narrow road and the fact that the race was still in progress.

Eventually I heard an ambulance approaching and a chopper above.

When the medical team arrived I had gone into shock and was shaking uncontrollably. When they tried to put me on the stretcher the pain was so severe that they had to give me morphine and some drug that caused me to hallucinate. It felt like I was dying. A most horrific experience!

They choppered me into Wellington Hospital and I was extremely lucky to be operated on within a couple of hours.

The surgeon put a metal plate and screws into my hip and I spent a few days being attended to and resting in hospital.

I'm now philosophically looking at my future in sport. After initial fears about the risks of being a cyclist I feel that my love for the sport means I must get back on the bike again, though not for a few more months. Hopefully I've had my one and only serious accident.

I will certainly be looking more closely at wet roads in the future.

Although the ending is not what I wanted I am satisfied with how I raced on the day and the group I was with at the time of the accident finished with 2:46 which is a good time. Maybe next year!

Thank you to everyone who sent me well wishes!

Here is a song by Leonard Cohen accompanied by myself and sung by me and Caitlyn.h


  1. cohen...
    but also so glad to hear from you...
    glad the surgery went well and i hope the time on the mend goes by...and in that time you think about what is next for you as well...look forward to hearing you back on that bike man...

  2. Only you would think back on the experience and say "I'm satisfied with how I raced"!.
    Best of luck with your recovery.
    Jane xx

  3. Oh Paul that sounds horrific! Glad the op went well and I hope your recovery is swift. It sounds as if you are positive about getting back out on your bike. I really like your attitude to it. Take care of yourself.

  4. Well, Paul, thank God you're okay. What an experience, eh, but one you will be able to reflect on and talk about for a while. You are to be commended for your attitude and determination and I hope the hip mends quickly. Leonard Cohen and Caitlin added a nice touch to your post.

  5. Glad to hear that you are on the mend...what an horrific accident though !

  6. Hi Paul! I got rather stunned as I read this. Wow, what a big accident with the fall, helicopter, surgery and all! Take care of yourself to heal faster. I'm glad you have supportive people around you.

    Try to be patient, though I know it really sucks for an athletic person to recover from surgery. I found that reading books about fitness strategy and techniques greatly helped--because at least I was getting smarter about fitness while I laid around not being able to do fitness.<<That's the best I got. :D

    :-) Marion

  7. So sorry to hear about your accident. We are glad to hear that your surgery was successful and that you are now back at home recovering. This must have been quite a blow to you. I know that it will be hard for you to sit around for those 6 weeks and than even more before you can start to excercise again and get back in the swing of things. We are certainly happy that the accident wasn't worse. Take care and wishing you a speedy recovery.


  8. I wondered how the accident happened and what the diagnosis might be. I'm so glad you have no damage to your spine or neck. It does indeed seem like a very long time to be off the bike and not running, but heal up well, and then you'll be the best you can be when you do get back to both your sports. You are composing some wonderful blog posts and sharing such sweet memories and music of your family in the meantime!