How I fell off my bike and what happened next


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Saturday was a full-on day for us riding the Long Ride To Peace in Belgium and returning to our hotel after dark I entered a small roundabout wanting the 3rd (left) exit crashmap.png (riding from left, wanting unnamed up road)

on joining the roundabout however it became less clear and made for a much tighter turn.

I made the schoolboy error of fixating on the horribly close kerbstones and of course I clipped one and went down. Steering 101, 1st rule - look where you want to go (not at the scary kerb)

The really annoying thing was that I knew I was doing it wrong as I did it wrong but I just couldn't stop myself. I wasn't completely wrong: I relaxed once the inevitable fall started, landing as softly as I could; I didn't fret about the bike at all; I didn't rush to get up or fiddle with the bike. I realised quite quickly that my right shoulder hurt and took steps to protect it.

I was quickly assisted by Giel, Gerhard, Thomas and I think another rider as well as at least one Belgian couple. My bike was checked over and stood up and I was helped into a comfortable sitting position, leaning against someone's legs. We managed to remove my helmet and an ambulance was called. The Belgians offered to get me some water, which I declined. I should have said yes as I subseqently realised that dehydration had contributed to the loss of concentration which led to the crash.

When the ambulance arrived, they quickly assessed me then set about helping me to stand up (a much harder task than you might imagine). I was driven in a "progressive" manner to hospital a few miles away. The crew asked to see my passport and then some document containing my address. I gave him my driving licence. Nobody asked about an EHIC which I had in my documents folder. I did however receive a letter asking for a copy of it a week after I returned home.

Giel followed the ambulance to the hospital and found me shortly after arrival. Now the dehydration registered and I sent Giel off in search of water. By now the adrenaline had worn off, my shoulder was making its presence felt and I was feeling really quite old and not at all "brave". You remember those days from childhood when some kindly-looking nurse would call for you to be brave while she poured iodine into your open wounds - not you Mark, they'd stopped that by the time you came along :D When the nurse asked if I'd like some pain relief I almost bit her hand off - yes please!!!

She returned with a single sweet-tasting pill. Within a minute the edge was gone, within five minutes I reckoned I could ride my bike again. Tramadol:cool:

Next stop X-ray. This involved being positioned on a shelf attached to some part of the machine and poked about. Afterwards a doctor came and asked us to go with him to see the pictures. The ambulance crew had put me in a wheelchair on arrival and this had the effect of making both Giel and me think I couldn't walk. Getting out of the chair involved some small discomfort but of course I could walk perfectly well. The X-ray showed a dislocated collarbone, specifically a "Rockwood grade 3 AC dislocation". The doctor explained that it would heal naturally over 6-8 weeks or an operation could be performed to replace the damaged ligaments (which won't grow back). "no, you won't be able to ride your bike tomorrow"

He gave me a prescription for Paracetemol and Tramadol as well as two pills, one of each, "for tonight", wrote his diagnosis on a blank sheet of paper and said we could go. Next problem, a taxi for me back to the hotel. The receptionist asked where to and neither of us could remember the name of the hotel or its location. GPS has a waypoint and we just press [GO]. Fortunately the word "blue" was enough to identify the Blue Woods hotel in Deerlijk. Giel and I arrived at the same time which was just as well as I was 12 euros short of the cab fare and the driver would only take cash.

Hunger and need of alcohol made their presence felt at this point and we both hastily dumped excess bike gear and headed for the restaurant to join the others. Let the piss-taking healing begin.

Somehow I got myself into the shower, found a comfortable position on the bed and slept for several hours. At 5 Sunday morning I started tackling how to get me and bike home, surely at least one of the four insurance policies would do that. First call, NatWest platinum travel cover - "we can do you but not the bike". Did the necessary 20 questions then left them to work out how to fly me home (not the way I'd have chosen but they're the experts.) Consulted breakdown cover but a) bike hasn't broken down and b) they'd take it to the nearest garage and fix it. Fully comp, full European, bike insurance it is then. "oh, I don't know, I just take reports, you need to speak to the office which will open [in 5 hours]".

Over breakfast Dave asked if I fancied going pillion. Several people advised against it and explained the train route they'd worked out over supper. We agreed a trial run as far as the Pool of Peace. I got back into my bike gear although, despite tying my own laces for the last 60+ years, I had to get Dave to tie my bootlaces for me, and later assist with helmet ons and offs. My bike had been ridden back to the hotel for me and the hotel staff were very helpful and agreed to store it in their secure garage until I could arrange recovery.

Getting on and off Dave's bike was not the slick operation I'd like it to be but we managed. After the Pool of Peace I called NatWest Platinum, silent since 5am, to cancel - instant "Thank you" reply - and we set off towards Calais, stopping at the Belgian and French border signs for 50/50 shots and in a French village for lunch, best chips I've had in years and serenaded by a marching band playing "God Save the Queen" and "It's a Long Way To Tipperary". Checking-in at Calais with an unannounced passenger proved no problem at all, unlike the call to my wife to arrange interception on the M25. I could barely get a word in. Apparently she was not amused that I'd hitched a pillion ride. I was later handed over to my daughter Rosie at Cobham services. Rosie's a good girl and drove me directly to the pub :)

Monday involved a further trip to A&E because, well for me the path of least resistance. More X-rays, more disapproval about pillion riding. I will be receiving a care plan from the trauma team in the next few days but I already know that the options are heal slowly or have an operation and heal a bit faster. Fourth insurance option proved useless as it required me to be hospitalised for 24 consecutive hours.

Lessons learned/remembered too late:

1) When you think you can't make the corner LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO, not where you don't want to go. I had already spent at least 20 hours this year teaching that principle but ...
2) When you're tired and nearing your destination take extra care, slow down, pay attention.
3) Tramadol is awesome.
4) Don't let your wife know you're riding pillion while injured until you get home.
5) Very few stresses can't be relieved by a visit to an English pub.
6) Insurance - may well be the subject of a further rant.
7) Last but not least, Iron Butt UK and Belgium and Germany and Portugal is surely the world's best bike club!
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The [clinical not family] powers that be have now decreed that I be sacrificed on the altar of physiotherapy:(

I have dealt with these people before, they are all callous sadists. Even the retired physio I was chatting to a couple of weeks back spent half the time about the dreadful things [injuries] she's seen while treating motorcyclists. She didn't approve of motorcycles.
I had to go and see ‘them’ after a spill...

One said to me “you really need to try and walk straight and upright” I said, whilst brandishing a decent walking stick..“let’s see how you do with a f”+@ing broken leg, broken foot and collar bone”.

Another spent at least 15 minutes arguing with me that I had a torn muscle in my right thigh.... wasn’t even convinced by the scars on my left shin.....only when I saw the name on the medical notes did I realise, she was talking to the wrong person....and took some convincing of that too.. When she came back, with my notes, she said “can we start again” “so, you’ve got a broken.... leg”......

I was told, after turning up just a minute late for a session, by the receptionist “they are very busy people you know” “yea I said and with out patients they’ll be busy looking for another job”

Then, the final straw....I got asked if, “I’d like to come to group” GROUP.......FFS..... I’m not giving up alcohol...... told them, I don’t play well in a GROUP......

Funny this... never got booked in for another session.......:rolleyes:

If there are any Psycho’s .... sorry I mean Physio’s on here.... no offence....
I tore my collar bone completely off the shoulder so for me it was a long wait for the operation as they first wanted to see if it would heal but 12 wks later having had my arm in a sling it was apparent that the inevitable operation was required.
So months of waiting and cancelling of said operation eventually they delved in to make the repair and find that I also had substantial damage to the rotator cuff too so I was under the knife for 2.5 hrs but it's been worth having it done.
I hope that things go alright for you and hopefully see you at an event in the future.


IBAUK Webmaster
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I have a fair range of movement in my right shoulder and arm now but, according to the physio yesterday, I mustn't raise my arm above the shoulder or exert any force with it. But eventually I'll have full range and full strength apparently.
I have today returned to using my right hand to control a computer mouse. (I included 'computer' in that sentence for the avoidance of doubt)


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My physio has been something of a pleasant surprise. Firstly he's male - I didn't realise that men were allowed to become physios, I always thought that was an exclusively female profession, like midwives. Secondly he's so far managed to cause me no pain whatsoever - that's definitely a first!

I now have nearly complete range in the shoulder. Still need a couple of weeks of strengthening though but hopefully back on my bike in January.