I had planned a 20 mile cycle out and back along the coast road along the Firth of Forth. The weather was great and I was tempted to go further to soak up the sun’s rays and the great views, but reminded myself to take it easy. My bike – ‘Doreen’, a Specialized Allez Sport purchased in 2010 – and I were getting on really well, and I felt really positive about my training, and life in general. It was on this ride that I came up with the idea of blogging about my training, because I have masses of random musings whilst out on the bike, and I thought it would make sense to give them an outlet. I thought this might also help clear out my muddled brain to make some room for the important things I keep forgetting!
Heading back through Musselburgh, 5 miles from home, I suddenly realised that a car was coming towards me and I was going to hit it head-on at speed. It happened so fast that I had no time to go for my brakes, and possibly no time even to tense up in anticipation of the imminent crash. I think this might have contributed to my surprisingly minor injuries. I bounced off the bonnet, and probably the windscreen, and ended up lying in the road. I remember feeling a bit dazed, and trying to stand up so that I could go to sit on the curb. I planned to dust myself off, compose myself, and get me and my bike home somehow. I think I even thought I’d carry on cycling home.
But a number of passers by had gathered and had other ideas. Though I was insisting that I was OK they wouldn’t let me move, and kept me lying in the road. They wanted to take my helmet off, but I’d seen enough episodes of Casualty to know that this was usually ‘a bad thing’, so stopped them. I couldn’t see the car or my bike, but got the impression from the conversation going on around me that we were blocking the road. Strangely enough I felt a bit embarrassed to be lying in the road, with people cycling and driving around me, but didn’t really have a choice in the matter. Someone called an ambulance, and someone else was making sure I kept talking and didn’t go to sleep, but in truth that was all I wanted to do: my head felt fuzzy and I just wanted to make it all go away. Particularly as the driver, a lady in her 40s, was sobbing away uncontrollably behind me.
It took about 20 minutes for the ambulance to arrive, by which time I was shivering and one of the passers by had draped her coat over me. Although it was quite a warm day the sweat from my exertions had given me quite a chill. I could wiggle my toes and my neck seemed to work, so I was hoping I’d be allowed home. But I mentioned that my neck was a bit uncomfortable – after all I had been lying in the road for 30 mins by then – and this apparently meant that I then had to have the full neck brace, back board, and ambulance ride to hospital. Drat. I tried to protest – I remembered that I hadn’t fed the cat, and her wrath was the last thing I needed – but I was overruled.
I had been asking about whether my bike had been damaged, but nobody would give me a straight answer. Later the lady who dropped my bike home for me told me that they didn’t want me to know that it was in three pieces. It would have been quite a challenge to continue cycling home on that. Looking at the picture of it now I can see why no-one would let me move, given that my body had experienced the same amount of impact and presumably should have sustained some serious damage.
So it was off to hospital for me – Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary – where I had a long wait to be seen. I really appreciated having my iPhone on me, as I was able to phone my family, cancel the dinner party I was supposed to be hosting that evening, and inform my wider group of friends through FaceBook. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with FaceBook, but I was so glad of the sympathy extended to me. It made a lonely experience quite a bit less lonely.
Eventually a doctor came and prodded my neck, and decided that I was OK (I could’ve told them that hours earlier!). I could be discharged if someone could pick me up and babysit me for the evening to check I didn’t deteriorate. My good friend Carolyn got lumbered with these duties, but queried the doctor about what level of ‘acting strange’ would be a concern. Apparently I’ve been known to ‘act strange’ even without a bump to the head. Anyway, I was very relieved to be able to leave A&E, and considered the events of the day to be ample excuse for a Thai takeaway, some trashy Saturday evening telly and an early night.
I looked at Google Maps to piece together how it happened that I met the car head-on, rather than side on. I was cycling along Mill Hill in Musselburgh, following this white arrow from right to left. She was turning right out of a T-junction, but, as the car in the picture appears to be starting to do, she must have cut the corner (my guess is that she followed the red line from left to right, approximately), so that we met head on. I think the problem might be that this T-junction has visibility that is better than most T-junctions: because it is on a curve you can see to the left and right without having to turn your head too much, so that when drivers get used to it they feel they don’t need to slow down much, or look too carefully. It was an accident waiting to happen, given the number of cyclists that use this road to avoid Musselburgh High Street to get to and from the coast road.