One thing that you realise when you become a serious cyclist, is that the term “blood, sweat and tears” seizes to be a figure of speech and becomes a literal description of a state of being. I warned you that it was going to get tough. I just did not realise that “tough” in this context was going to mean a trip to A&E!
One moment I was happily cycling along, the next I hit the ground with the force of a 10-ton elephant. When these things happen in movies or books, the characters experience an epiphany or come to some sort of insight that would lead them to a greater understanding. Falling serves a purpose. As I was lying there with my face in the dirt, there was no epiphany, only shock and confusion. I could not understand it. I am always a very careful cyclist. There were no ice warnings on the news and in fact I had cycled the previous two days without any problems when it was clearly very icy and bitterly cold. I was wearing my helmet and gear, cycling slowly on a straight path and it just happened. This is real life you see, and unlike the movies there are often no real reasons why bad things happen. They just happen.
There is one good thing about falling hard though… and that is the getting up part. It seems simple enough, but this is where most things can go wrong if you are not careful. After a quick check, I picked up my bicycle, got on and rode it until I got to a place where I could call my wife to be picked up. My lips were bleeding and very painful, the taste of blood strong in my mouth. All I wanted was to go home, clean my face and then continue my day at the office as usual. Unfortunately, that was not to be. In the car, I decided to remove my balaclava to see the extent of the damage and there it was: A big, bloody gash on my chin. After seeing it, my shocked wife ordered me to leave the balaclava on until we arrived to the Royal Infirmary’s A&E. “I have to drive dear” she explained… “The less I know about what is going on underneath there, the better. I do not want to make any accidents on the way!”
So there I was, a reluctant patient in A&E on a Thursday morning getting my face sorted. Mr Brown, the nurse who stitched me up, is also an avid cyclist. “I am thankful to you” he said while pushing the needle through the gash on my chin for the first of four stitches. “You can never know when accidents will happen. But you do keep me in my job”. Mr Brown: If you are reading this, I am happy that you got work. I hope that you will have many, many more years of work. You did a really good job. But please do not take offence when I say that I do not want to see you again!
“At least you have experience in falling!” my wife jokingly said afterwards. When it comes to falling, I have to say, I am a bit of an expert (even though I was lacking some recent practice). If you have read my previous blog, you would know why. Even so, falling is not one of those skills you really want to hone. But this is all very encouraging. I am such an expert at falling, that I am also an expert at getting up. And when you get up after you fall, it means that you do not give up.
In the A&E there was a very useful little poster titled: “Falls can be prevented – keep active”. Very ironic under the circumstances! Wouldn’t you agree? Even so, one thing I know about falling is that you should get up as soon as you can and try to ignore whoever may be laughing. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes. The next day I spent 60 minutes on the static bicycle and the day after that I had a fantastic ride of 50 km around East Lothian. So I completed my weekly training plan in anyway. I rode 245 kilometres, with a total of 888 metres climbed last week. It may not sound like a lot, but it will increase as I get closer to the start of my 1200-mile in 13 days challenge in Land’s End.
This fall will most definitely leave a scar. Most people see scars are little reminders of times when things did not go to plan. I would d like to think of scars as the tattoos of life. Unfortunately, diseases like Polio don’t just leave scars. Perhaps, on this epic journey I might get more scars but I am happy to get them if it will mean that we (you, dear reader and me) will be successful in raising money to stop polio from destroying lives. Please help me in my effort to donate or share this blog. I cannot do it without you!
The fundraising target of £10000 is already getting closer. Last week saw the opening of our online donations page and “Seize the Day”, an Edinburgh meet group was true to its name and was the first to donate £50. And things only got better… Once I was at home after getting back from the hospital I was cheered up by another £50 donation from Lawrence Marshall, Secretary of the Rotary Club of Portobello (my own club). At the time he was unaware of my recent accident. I was very happy to then also receive an email from David Mills (Secretary of the Rotary Club of Camelford). David, together with his wife Diana and Preta (their lovely black Labrador) have offered to accommodate me on June 6th after my first day of cycling between Land’s End and Camelford. All this really made that fall worthwhile! Thanks, to the Mills family, I could cancel my hotel booking in Camelford and donate the amount saved to the fundraising pot. That puts the total at £185 which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can convert into £555 as part of their pledge to End Polio Now with Rotary International. Not bad having still a few months ahead don’t you think? But there is still a long way to go and your support is still required.