Wednesday 30 March 2011

Trashed bike (probably) and helmet

On my way in to work this morning, I was about 12 minutes into my ride, maybe 15 and was flying up CS7 alongside the traffic jam of cars.  I was just at the junction of Oldridge Road and Balham High Road with a large van stationary just in front to the right of me, when a car going the other way suddenly appeared across the front of me, turning right into Oldridge Road.  I was doing about 25kph, maybe a bit more; the car was probably doing around 10kph.  I only found out about it when my front wheel was taken out by the front of the car and a second or so later I felt myself land and the back of my head hit the road.

[Yellow box is me on my bicycle travelling North in the massively wide cycle lane.  Purple boxes are stationary cars trying to go North.  Red box is large, stationary van trying to go North.  Blue box is blue car going South, turning right at the same time as I'm passing the side road.]

I screamed.  For the first time in my entire life, I screamed.  Twice.  Maybe three times.  My eyes were shut and I didn't dare open them.  There were people around me asking me to open my eyes, so I did.  I could hear a female voice saying "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.  Is she OK?" over and over.  My knees hurt, my head felt a bit funny and I didn't want to move.  They were all asking me was I OK, then one guy seemed to have some medical training and asked me my name, looked at my eyes, checked my grip, spine, hips and shoulders and then decided it was OK to get me moved.  I was keen to get out of the way of the traffic, but people kept telling me not to worry about it.

My bike was moved for me, I have no idea where it ended up first of all; I think it went over the car.  The car that hit me was behind me, so I must have gone right over the bonnet.  My shoes unclipped totally from the pedals pretty much immediately the impact happened, which is a relief.  With all the adrenaline bubbling about, I told everyone I was fine and totally intended to carry on in to work and that no, I didn't need any of the three ambulances that had been called for me.  No really, I'm fine.  The guy who checked my back and brain were mostly OK advised me to get me bike checked out before riding it again in case the headset was damaged which I thought, mm I'll do that on the way home tonight.

The woman that hit me took me for a cup of tea and I really did intend just to get on my bike and carry on in to work.  As we got up to leave the cafe, I looked down at my right knee and saw two huge lumps on it as well as the graze.  The woman was advising me to go home and have a hot bath, which was sounding more and more inviting by the minute.  My neck was starting to get sore and my jaw hurt as I opened it, so I thought I'll just check my bike in to the bike shop over the road for a check-over and head to a walk-in clinic to get myself checked over.

As I walked my bike to wait for the bike shop to open, I noticed something catching every revolution of the wheels.  So I lifted up the back and spun the back wheel - tiiiiiiiny bit wobbly but not catching on the brakes.  Did the same with the front... not so good.  Bent.  And looking at the right side of the front forks for the first time, I saw that they were broken.  Feeling a bit sick and headachey by this point I decided to go to St. Georges A&E to get properly checked out.

Then the shock finally started to wear off a bit and I was in floods of tears all the way to the hospital.  Snotty and sniffling, tears streaking down my cheeks.  By this point I couldn't turn my head to check for traffic coming in roads to the right of me, so had to turn my whole body to do that.

I locked my bike up outside the hospital and went in to A&E to register.  Only to get totally told off by the triage nurse for not coming in an ambulance, bumped to the front of the queue and told I was being treated as 'trauma' as I -should- have come in an ambulance especially given I went over the bonnet of the car.  I'm terrible.  I don't like making a fuss.  I don't like going to the doctor unless something is pretty much hanging off.  I really need to get over that.  That said, while I was in A & E waiting to be seen by a doctor, I heard a call come in for another accident - 20 minutes away in the ambulance; pedestrian vs. cyclist at 30mph.  Brain bleeding, BP very high, other internal injuries, suspected probably won't survive the ambulance journey.  I don't know if that was the pedestrian or the cyclist, but I'd suspect the pedestrian at that speed.  I didn't find out in the end.

At this point, I felt very lucky.

The doctor came and... long story short, my BP and heart rate were very high (I still had my heart rate monitor on and it didn't drop below 100 even after sitting down for 20 minutes).  Spine, hips, shoulders and brain checked out OK.  Knees and calves just badly bruised, scraped and a bit lumpy.  Neck and jaw minor injuries that would need ice packs for a few days and Ibuprofen to treat.  No work for at least 2 days, no gym or cycling for 2 weeks.  Immediate treatment with diclofenac (and some bread and butter and tea to help make it easier on the stomach) and 2 hours observation before being discharged with a letter sent to my GP detailing the injuries.

Home now and my bike is in for  a safety check with a definite broken front fork, very likely needing replacement front wheel, maybe replacement back wheel (might be fixable, might not).  They're going to check the frame to see if/how much it is bent and the brakes, gears, crank etc.  It's going to be a toss up whether it's a write-off or not, but given the cost of the safety check, replacement front fork, replacement front wheel, replacement or trueing of rear wheel and labour as a definite cost to fix it up safe to ride... it's sailing close to the original cost of the bike anyway.  If it is going to cost loads to fix it up, I'll get the pedals and a few other bits off it and scrap the rest.

Annoyingly, my camera is out of battery and I'm too tired/sore to go find the charger, so here's a list of the injuries:-
  • Left knee - bruised on top and both sides, grazed on the top and left side
  • Left calf - large bruise 
  • Right knee - tangerine-sized lump on the left with a graze, egg-sized lump on top with a graze, large scrape down the right side of the calf behind the knee
  • Left side of jaw - sore to open
  • Left side of back of neck, very very sore
  • Bottom of neck, both sides and spreading out across the back of my shoulders - very very sore
  • Right side of back of head - bruised/sore
My bicycle helmet - bent plastic and compressed polystyrene at the middle on the back and cracked polystyrene right through on the back, left side (where it hit the road).  That has to be replaced.  Anybody that ever tells me that people shouldn't wear cycling helmets will get an unpleasant response from me.  I always thought it's better to wear one than not and now... well, given how hard my head hit the road I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be sitting here back at home by now if I hadn't been wearing a helmet.  I'm pretty sure I would have been in an ambulance earlier and not telling people I was fine.  I'm pretty sure I'd have more than a slightly sore bit on the back of my head.

Bicycle - front fork cracked right through (not fixable), front wheel buckled (not fixable), back wheel a bit bent (may be fixable), frame and crank etc. being checked out.

I need to go and find Ibuprofen now.  And sort out more ice for the rest of the day.  Everything aches.  My neck and shoulders hurt a lot unless I slouch in a bad way and I'm feeling washed out and tired.  I've already eaten 4 slices of bread (two in the hospital with butter on and two toasted with Marmite when I got home) 'cause I'm starving hungry but I don't care what I eat today as long as I do eat.   I want to nap, but that's a bad idea unsupervised at the moment, so I'll try not to do that for at least a few more hours if not normal bed-time.

Time to count my blessings and drink tea with kittens cuddled up.


  1. " Anybody that ever tells me that people shouldn't wear cycling helmets will get an unpleasant response from me."

    As a man who has also cracked a helmet (admittedly as a result of riding into a bush at high speed as a kid but hey) right the hell with you.

  2. God, Kat, poor you! Very very glad you're as OK as you are, albeit bashed up and shaken. Take it easy for the next couple of weeks.

  3. Oh my goodness *hugs* I'm glad to hear you are battered but okay. It really could have been much worse, and you are lucky as you said.

    Take it easy x x

  4. so glad you're writing this today, take it easy petal!

    Love and hugs and a speedy recovery(you must be stil in shock).


  5. Goodness, you poor thing. Really glad you're mostly intact and OK. Lots of good wishes for a speedy recovery.

  6. Christ Kate, what an ordeal. You're right though, you were lucky to walk away from that. These things can be a lot worse..

    I'm glad you took yourself to hospital in the end too. It annoys me that no one (forcibly) took you. When you're in shock you don't realise how badly injured you can be. And nor are you really in a position to be able to make sensible decisions. Someone there should have made it for you. Still, all's well that ends well...

    And on a sidenote, I have seen a couple of cyclists come off cycling on the inside of queuing traffic. It's something that isn't put out there enough as a danger.

    Really glad you're ok tho. Hopefully Mr TOTKat will be home soon to make you soup...

  7. Thanks everybody. I'm kicking myself I didn't get the driver's details. She was really shaken and nice about it, not an idiot/aggressive person at all.

    I've added a little diagram to try to explain the picture a bit better. Thing is, the cycle lane on the A24 is almost as wide as a bus lane at that point and cyclists get to go at a fair old whack on it while there's nothing parked in it. As in, it's totally normal to be travelling at 20+kph on that bit of road and not stop at every single side road to check if anyone wants to turn in to it.

  8. You poor thing - very relieved it is not serious for you. Can you claim for your bike on the car driver's insurance?

  9. Goodness me I am so pleased you are ok. Good stuff for getting your ass to hospital and getting yourself checked out.
    I 100% agree with helmets, I even make the boys wear theirs when we are off roads and out back on bridal paths, I ALWAYS wear mine.
    Rest up xxx