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Potholes, helmets and the kindness of strangers

 Published on: 20th May 2014   |   By: Nik Allen

injured nikI learnt a few important life lessons earlier this month, when I was wandering around a field in Buckinghamshire, dazed, confused and bleeding after a nasty cycling accident.

I learnt the importance of wearing a helmet, I realised why people always complain about potholes – those things are dangerous – and I experienced the genuine kindness of a stranger.
It all started when I headed out with a group of mates on a Saturday morning training ride. A group from the Watford FC charity cycling team plan to ride to Amsterdam in a few weeks to raise money for prostate cancer and the ride was part of the preparations for this event.

However after a recent bout of sickness (the dreaded lurgy that has been doing the rounds) I wasn’t really feeling on top form. So after struggling up a few hills I went my own way, leaving my teammates to crack out some serious training miles while I settled for a gentler session.

I was peddling away in the Chesham area in torrential rain when it happened. I was heading down a slope when I saw a puddle up ahead. I veered onto the left hand side of the road (which I was expecting to be the shallow part) but to my horror what I didn’t see until it was too late, was a sizeable pothole in the road (don’t we pay our taxes to have these things fixed?).

The moment my wheel went into the hole I flew off my bike and landed on the road. I’m not sure how long I was out for, but I was definitely knocked unconscious. When I came to I was totally disorientated. I began walking in a bid to find some recognisable landmark, so I could figure out where the hell I was. Later, when I looked at my tracking app on my phone, I realised I was walking around a field aimlessly.

Thankfully a local man drove by and stopped, and asked me if I was okay. I didn’t realise at the time just how bad I looked (half my face was caked in blood). I explained to him I had no idea where I was and he offered to take me to his house so I could regroup and assess my condition.

This good Samaritan, also a cyclist, went way beyond his call of duty. He gave me a sugary tea and toast with honey at his house while he called my wife. He didn’t know whether to take me to A&E or home. He then decided to drive me to my home where my frantic wife (who is a nurse) did a pretty good job of patching me up and telling me I was never going to get on another bike again.

A few hours later I still didn’t feel right so I headed to A & E. While my face looked pretty bad, the real pain came from my ribs (which are cracked) and my shoulder.
In the aftermath I am left contemplating just how lucky I was – what would have happened if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet? My bike is a write-off and it now seems unlikely I will make it to Amsterdam with the boys.

But given I still don’t feel great and I have no bike to train on, the sensible thing to do is to sit this one out.

I still plan to ride a couple of events later this year, the Palace to Palace and the Ride London 100. But I think it would be best if I allow my wounds to heal.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shaken by what has happened (it’s actually my second bike accident in a fortnight). But I’m not going to let that stop me doing what I really enjoy, it might just mean my destiny was not to go to Amsterdam this year.

A special thank you goes to my good Samaritan. The day after my accident I dropped a few bottles of wine and a thank you card to him. It goes to show that there are still some good guys out there.

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