Saturday, 5 October 2013

Road to Recovery...Again!

It's official! I'm an accident area! Little Miss Bump!

I don't do it on purpose and I think I'm actually an alright bike rider, not a great rider, but alright. But I just seem to be making a habit of getting too familiar with the ground when I should be staying upright on my bike.

So, what happened this time? Well, I don't know! Yup, it was that bad this time!

At the start of the summer, we'd gone out to the French Alps for the wedding of some friends and were tagging a week's holiday of riding and general touristing on at the end. The wedding was lovely and, as well as hooking up with some old friends, we made some new friends too. A few days after the wedding we headed to Les Gets and hooked up with some of those friends for a few days of riding there.

We checked into our apartment, grabbed a quick lunch, bought some lift passes and went out for an afternoon of lift assisted riding.

As usual when I ride somewhere new, there was a healthy mix of anticipation, nervousness and excitement because I'd no idea what the trails were going to be like or how I'll cope with them.

But, up and down we went, much giggling on the way down and oooh-ing at the views on the way back up on the chairlift.

We took the last chairlift of the day back up and decided to take a longer route back down to town before heading off to get cleaned up for dinner. As we headed down, I decided that tomorrow I'd like to try riding further afield on the trails which were a bit less trail centre-y to really see what it was like round about there. I saw the boys hooning down the trail in front of me at warp speed and remember thinking "I'll just take it easy and take in my surroundings".

The next thing I know I was back home in Edinburgh almost 3 weeks later, not really able to walk without getting dizzy, hanging on to things to stop me falling over, not really able to speak properly and not able to remember a thing about the last 3 weeks (or the last 5 minutes come to that!).

Apparently I had an almighty crash, probably going at a fair speed and landed on my head, stopping dead.

Luckily, the boys realised that I was taking too long to catch up with them and came back up the hill to find me and got to me at about the same time as a local rider came across me as she was coming down the hill.

She'd obviously come across this sort of thing before, so knew what to do and how to get emergency help and sorted it all out. I was taken off the hill on a back-board, wearing a neck brace and completely doolally - no idea where I was or what day, month or year it was!

After being checked out at a local hospital and the feared ruptured splean and broken back and neck had been given the all clear, they decided that, aside from some broken ribs and a dislocated finger, the only damage was a head injury, so they discharged me with instructions to Chris to keep an eye on me.

Well, poor Chris did have to keep an eye on me...for almost 2 months, until my doolally-ness started to lift and I was able to start functioning again.

Lots of doctor's visits, a few neurology sessions and a few CT scans showed that although I'd given myself a right old bash, there was no permenant damage and that with time, I'd get back to 100%.

So, 3 and a half months down the road and I now have a short term memory again, I can speak properly again, I don't wobble whenever I stand up, I'm allowed to drive and I'm starting to test my abilities.

I've been able to go back to work and I'm tentatively testing out how I am on the bike again. It hasn't been plain sailing and the first time we tried an off-road ride it didn't go quite as hoped...on trails I should have been very familiar with, but unfortunately couldn't remember at all, I ended up riding something I'd usually avoid, came off again and ended up back at hospital again getting sewn up.

With riding put on hold again for another few weeks, I was far more certain and aware of what was going on when I got the nod that I could try riding again.

So for the last few weeks, I've been out riding local trails and gradually pushing and testing out how I'm feeling about riding more techy stuff. Although I'm quite nervy, I seem to be able to ride pretty much as before. My riding style has changed quite a bit too - I'm much, much more focussed on what I'm doing and doing much more risk assessment of what I'm riding. Probably a good thing!

I reckon this crash'll take a bit longer to recover from than previous crashes, but I will recover and hopefully it'll make me a better rider. I'd be lying if I said I was going to stop riding techy stuff and that I'd be more conservative, but I enjoy the type of riding I do and I won't let one accident change that.

I don't know what happened. From what I've been told, there were no obvious obstacles on the trail, no rocks, no big drops, nothing. I just got unlucky. Maybe I lost concentration for a split second. Maybe a marmot ran out of the woods in front of me. I don't know and I never will. So although it's been a nasty experience and a tough / weird few months, there's no point in me dwelling on it and I just have to get back on with life, work, riding my bike and having fun.

It might be a few more months before I'm back riding all the trails I was riding before, but they're not going anywhere and a few more months away from them will make it a special treat to get back to them and start having fun on them all over again.