La Grande Chute

Col de Granier, June 5th 2010, Lyon-Mont Blanc-Lyon Sportive.

For 33 years I've been throwing myself in to the scenery.  First in cars, then on bikes.  On one infamous occasion, just outside Warsaw, I even managed to triple somersault a Yamaha Thunder Ace and wrap it upside down around a tree! 

Life's been fast and furious but this one, came from absolutely nowhere, was H U G E and stung more than all the others put together.  Still, all part of the rich tapestry of life!  And after hearing the sad news from this year's Time Megeve, I realise how lucky I am...

All was going well until I punctured on the climb.  At the feed, we (I) decided to change the rear wheel. 

Inflated wheel with gas canister
     (1st mistake; too hard)
Didn't centre brakes
     (2nd mistake, spongy rear brake lever)
Tried to make up lost time to catch leaders
     (3rd mistake...)

With three strikes and out, it was only going to end one way. 

So, we're descending in to a tight hairpin with washboard rippled tarmac on the entry.  As you can see I'd just reached a top speed of 72. kph.  Three corners before I'd just touched 94 kph. 

The spongy brake, over inflated tyre, dodgy road surface and my impatience, caused the back wheel to lock.  No problem, release and go again, we've moved 20 metres.  Lock again!  Okay, release and gently squeeze the brake, another 20 metres lost... 

You can see the blue line flatten, on the left, as the brake is applied, before another, final, catastrophic, wheel lock.  The bike snaps sideways, which is still okay, I'm happy to have a bike move underneath me.  It's no problem, 

I'm now pointing the right way and facing down the hill at 70.8 kph.  But the corner's tightening and I drift towards the wall.  I'm slowing the bike without locking the wheels but run out of road and hit the two foot high edge-wall at 48.6 kph.  Me and my bike part company!

The bike tumbles down the mountain.  I can hear it somersaulting as I'm flying through the air backwards.  Then I hit a tree, the only tree between me and oblivion, and I fell four foot to the ground.  Boy did it sting.  But it was far, far preferable to the alternative.

The result ripped core and back muscles.  No bruising, hardly any road rash and not a single mark on my clothing or damage to my helmet.  How ironic is that? 

So I climbed down the mountain to recover my bike, also not a single mark, and got back to the road just as team-mate Richard Davy arrived.  With Dianne behind him in the team bus!  Played it down, didn't want to spook them, then carried on for another 30k.  When I stopped for a wazz, the damage became apparent...

Two weeks later still can't tie my own laces, I walk like a cross between John Wayne and the spaceman robot on the Honda advert and I can't cuddle the missus.  Luckily Dianne had some tablets left over from her collarbone breakage earlier in the season!  I'm eating them like smarties.

It only hurts when I laugh, and/or breath.  And as I found out recently, sneezing is to be avoided at all costs.

Onwards and upwards, 'cause falling off downwards bloody sucks.  Anyway, here's a refresher of my Descending Skills Factsheet.  I must read it some time...

My thanks to Richard Davy (right) who (in a Broke Back Mountain reconstruction) pulled me naked and unconscious from the shower after I "had a moment," blacked out due to the pain, then smacked my head on the taps as I went down.  There was blood everywhere, it was like Psycho!  Did more damage in the shower than on the mountain!

Remember, always wear your helmet!

Entering the checkpoint at the foot of the Granier