Be Realistic Ask the Impossible: On a Scale of 1 to 10.... How Much Does it Hurt Now?

by Gregoire500   April 24, 2011  

Bank holiday weekend... Beautiful sunshine, warm air-the perfect weather for a long training ride into the country from central London on my lovely new full carbon steed in preparation for riding a sportive on Monday.  Feeling strong, the chain is gently humming and though the roads are busier than normal, feel good, it's not long before outside the sprawl and into the countryside where I can get into a good tempo.

Fast forward little over and hour later and it goes something like this:

Flash of silver in peripheral vision.

A surge of noise, then a wall of crushing pressure, the air becomes solid metal.

Oxygen pushed from lungs on impact, body twisting as it is violently obliged to alter its course, folded out of position. Fleeting recognition that the consequence of what is in progress cannot be stopped or altered.  It is now inevitable. It is happening.

Body tumbling, involuntarily contorted in mid-air, mind shocked but aware worse is yet to come: bracing for impact.

Unforgiving concrete, searing pain as an awkwardly twisted body finally embraces it. A penetrating scrape registers as the new and treasured bike reconciles itself to it's ill-fated meeting with the road, simultaneous to an exposed elbow smashing into abrasive surface.

Desperately trying and failing to to get up, to get out of the middle of the road and to safety.  Try to crawl. Unable to focus and so many voices screaming agony that the brain can't know which to listen to.  

Relieved awareness of people running to help, kind hands providing scaffolding to sagging limbs, voices asking questions, trying to answer, feeling embarrassed and trying to move, being held down.

Hear a voice saying 'he rode straight into me', another saying 'we saw exactly what happened-he did nothing of the sort'

Pain, sirens, sunglasses removed, blinding sunlight, neckbrace, questions from kind medic, 'what's your name how old are you where are you from how far have you riden how long... insistent probing, hot tarmac, large needle, syringe, electrodes, more sirens, blank faces staring from passing cars.  

Trussed up and rolled onto a rigid board, tied down, bundled into ambulance.  Relief to be in the shade, away from peering eyes, but more concerned faces, more questions, more probing, more electrodes.  Someone asking what to do with the bike.  More panic. 'There are irregularities'-more panic. Realise legs moving, get some calm, shooting pain with every irregular jolt of the ambulance. On a scale of one to ten how much does it hurt now...

Quickly  wheeled through hospital... quiet booth, cool, everything calm. Start to gather senses. Policeman appears, pain easing but movement invites violent response in lower back... wheeled into x-ray, instructions, wheeled out.  

Impatient policeman wanting to call a friend so he can leave, driver has been charged, 'do I want anything else from him?'  


Doctor.  'What happened?' Prodding, pulling, concerned face.  Swabs. 

More waiting.  

Back to x-ray.  More instructions.  Back to booth.  


Doctor.  'what happened?' Shirt off.  Probing. 'Suspicious line' try to stand, pain, relief, joints ominously cracking. Pain.

 Friendly faces arrive, bike safe.  Relief.  Gratitude.  


Another doctor, 'what happened?'  'Possible fracture'. 



 Wheeled to a different ward, water, waiting, start to think.  Anger.  another doctor, 'what happened?' 

more waiting. 

'We can't see anything just now, and even if we could we can't do anything.  Come back in 10 days.'  Relief.  Bloody bandage peeled off reluctant skin.  Blood.  Big needle out of arm. More blood. Forms. Here's some pain relief-it will hurt ten times worse tomorrow.'  

'You can go now.' 

Call taxi.  


'I've just been in an accident'

Can't sleep, mind racing, everything sore.  Reconstruct events in my mind, it wasn't my fault, it definitely wasn't my fault. Was it?  No.  How am I supposed to go back to work? What does the driver being charged mean?  Do I need a lawyer?

Wake up.  Doctor wasn't lying.

Everything aches.  Neck stiff, back protesting at every movement, sitting hurts, lying down hurts, walking hurts, moving head hurts, drinking hurts, strange pains in my legs, abdomen, knee, can't use my right arm properly.  Won't be able to work.  For how long? Won't be able to ride.  How long?  Don't know what to do with myself.  More anger.  What should I do? Read up on internet.  Email lawers.  Call police.

Feel lucky to be alive.  Feel anger and the reckless person who did this to me.

On a scale of one to ten, how much does it hurt now?  

More than it should.

 Want justice.

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31 user comments

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That was a very powerful account Greg, I'm lost for words, and that doesn't happen very often, but TheHatter's speaks for us all, hope you are back on the bike soon, and I'm really, really glad it wasn't worse and really, really hope you get justice and that the driver responsible for doing this to you faces the full force of the law.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
24th April 2011 - 23:31


Thanks for the kind thoughts,

I'm sore all over and a bit battered but compared to being faced with the initial prospect of a spinal injury I'm just too relieved for words. I was negotiating a roundabout and a guy thought he'd be smart and accelerate round me to take the exit to... i don't know-make a point? Save 0.5 seconds going round it? Either way he totally mis-judged it. I was so far in front of him I would have been over the exit had he not accelerated anyway, and he actually hit me when I was smack bang in the middle.

First time I've been in this situation so I don't know what the upshot of him being charged is-the policeman said that I had been in the right position and that the witness saw him try to cut me up, but went from saying 'the driver hit you' to 'the driver clipped your front wheel'. The front wheel is fine apparently, but the back wheel isn't and neither is my body as it hit his effing car! So, although he's been charged with dangerous driving for I've already got misgivings about how keen they'll be to prosecute.

Anyway. I'm still a bit dazed but I think that might just be the painkillers-writing this yesterday was theraputic in some respect, and I wake up a bit gutted that today I should be riding the London Pheonix Easter Classic on my new bike

...  Soyez Realiste-Demandez L'impossible ...

posted by Gregoire500 [138 posts]
25th April 2011 - 10:19


Maybe a shooting "pour encourager les autres" would be appropriate for a couple of these!

Hamster's picture

posted by Hamster [93 posts]
25th April 2011 - 10:45


Wow what a vivid account. It's very sobering to reflect on how often cyclists who are involved in accidents have no idea what happened. We all like to think we could avert danger if we had to but sometimes there's just no way. I hope you, the bike and your confidence all recover quickly.

Martin Thomas's picture

posted by Martin Thomas [624 posts]
25th April 2011 - 11:47


Hope you have a speedy recovery. Your account is really well written, would be good if people had to read it as part of driver training.
Best wishes

posted by 37monkey [144 posts]
25th April 2011 - 11:54


An uncomfortably graphic account of what is, sadly, an all too commmon occurrence.

Relieved you escaped with relatively minor scuffs and scrapes. Get well soon Greg.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2418 posts]
25th April 2011 - 15:48


Agree that this is a very well written account of what sounds very nasty. Hope you recover quickly, Greg.

As for the significance of the driver being charged, it certainly can't hurt. The standard of proof for a civil claim (which is what your solicitor is for - you generally wouldn't be represented in a criminal case until after a verdict, as the state is responsible for a criminal prosecution) is much lower than criminal. That means that if there is enough evidence to charge him with a criminal offence, there is a good chance of a successful civil claim if the criminal prosecution does not proceed. Anyway, a good solicitor will deal with all of this for you.

And again, get well soon.

posted by step-hent [718 posts]
25th April 2011 - 17:27


A vivid account and I hope you recover soon, keep the faith it can be a long journey:

I was hit in Nov 09 by a driver turning right across oncoming traffic who "didn't see" my two static and one flashing white LEDs. There was no chance to stop, I hit the rear pasenger door of his car and went over the roof ending up on my back on the road under my bike.

The elderly driver later failed a police eye test 'miserably' (quote from the PC who told me the outcome) but the still recommended I "chalked it up to experience" as they wouldn't prosecute.

15 months later I have constant severe back pain which until recently the NHS refused to believe was anything other than sciatica - I was sent away with increasingly strong painkillers and told to 'get on'.

The fifth GP I saw decided to look into it further. Due to side effects I was forced off painkillers and decided finally to have a private MRI, diagnosis: a burst disc between L5/S1 vertebrae which is putting pressure on my spinal column.

So now I face spinal surgery with a published success rate of 60-90% which looks a lot more scary when you have to make the decision!

The flip side of the decision is that at present on good days I walk like I'm trying not to sh** myself, on bad days I can't stand or dress myself, I certainly can't ride a bike (and haven't been able to since the accident).

But the worst of it is that I can't lift (let alone play with) my 2 year old son.

My advice would be to get tenacious with the NHS - don't let them fob you off and if you have any concerns and can afford it then seek help elsewhere (privately). I saw a chiropractor who diagnosed me correctly within 15 minutes of consultation 6 months ago. If I'd followed his advice to get a scan there/then I'd probably already have had the surgery and be on the road to recovery.

Good luck.

Oh and to answer your question it hurts a lot. But I'm confident for the first time in a while that it will, now, get better.

posted by dlp [51 posts]
26th April 2011 - 15:27


Dlp, ouch-I hope I don't have to face not being able to ride for that long, but not being able to play with your son must be far worse.

Three days on and I've still had no contact with the police despite ringing several times and leaving messages. Doesn't inspire confidence, but its early days yet and if I have to call them 10 times a day to get them to take it seriously I will.

Also taken steps to contact a legal specialist to see about a claim, but I'm more concerned about getting back on my bike and not having any lasting damage to my back... Really hoping I'll be able to do the Etape Caledonia in May ;/

...  Soyez Realiste-Demandez L'impossible ...

posted by Gregoire500 [138 posts]
26th April 2011 - 15:59


I'd certainly recommend that you take the badge number of any police/police staff you speak to along with the date and time - makes it a lot easier further down the line.

I spoke to a specialist legal company and they did get me a replacement bike and an insurance settlement - my advice on that front would be not to accept a final settlement too early. I was advised to do just that, meaning that any treatment for my back is probably not going to be covered and thus will have to be at the NHS' convenience (I plan to speak to them about it after the easter b/h shenanigans though, just to check).

It's worth keeping a diary of your symptoms as otherwise it all tends to blur. I also started taking my wife with me to consultations as I was so high on drugs I didn't know which way was up and was in no shape to deliver a coherent statement of my symptoms or remember what they'd said to me.

Now I'm off the diazepam I don't need to do that but I still do 'cos it helps me remember that I'm not being paranoid or unreasonable about what I'm asking for (which is to get fixed).

And finally, don't give up hope! Get well soon.

posted by dlp [51 posts]
26th April 2011 - 16:11


I was in a time trial on Saturday, and ended up having to leave a roundabout on an exit earlier than I expected, taking me off-course. I did so because a car was going there, with or without me. I had to shadow it's movements to stay upright. I could so easily have ended up in A&E too. Get well soon!

posted by Speedy1319 [24 posts]
26th April 2011 - 20:39


Gregoire500 I hope that you make a full and speedy recovery. exceedingly well written.

Dlp, I had a L4/5 microdiscoctomy 2 weeks ago no leg pain at all now just a bit sore at the scar. look up 'Cauda Equina Syndrome' as soon as I mentioned some of these symptoms (which I had started to experience) I was in for the operation the following day, but getting to see the specialist was a nightmare, I hope you get to play with you son soon.

posted by adeclay (not verified) [309 posts]
26th April 2011 - 20:40


Ugghh. This freshens already fresh memories. I got wiped out by a 21 year old girl who cut across the cycle lane on my commute home two months ago. I had the initial few weeks of getting over my separated shoulder and have just had to go through the whole level of pain, discomfort and complete cocking arseup of my life again having just undergone surgery to rejoin my shoulder last week. What annoys me most is that the girl hasn't responded to the documents served on her by my insurance company and the police have needed constant chasing to make sure she gets called in for the warning/paying for a drivers' awareness course that she deserves as an absolute minimum; which still hasn't happened. It makes me want to give up road riding and accept the much safer heckling from ramblers I get on my mountainbike. Since the accident I have been sitting at home being miserable, not doing any exercise and getting fat from drinking lots of ale.
All idiot road users deserve to be banned from breathing. [hate] etc [rant] [blergh]. Sad

posted by paulbeckett [9 posts]
26th April 2011 - 20:47


Been to the fracture clinic too recently, broken hand, thanks to idiot driver, I avoid busy roads as much as possible now.
Drivers think we shouldn't be there.

posted by pmr [193 posts]
26th April 2011 - 21:59


@Adeclay: that's good to hear I have to say.

I expect that Easter hols etc will add 2 weeks onto the c.6 week wait to see a specialist (for an urgent case that is, it's much longer for a non-urgent complaint apparently!).

Realistically I think I'm looking at 3-6 months before treatment. Hopefully it will be less but if I prepare for that then I'll at least not be disappointed any further, I hope.

posted by dlp [51 posts]
26th April 2011 - 22:04


dlp wrote:
...diagnosis: a burst disc between L5/S1 vertebrae which is putting pressure on my spinal column.

So now I face spinal surgery with a published success rate of 60-90% which looks a lot more scary when you have to make the decision!

Having been through an L5S1 fusion for chronic sciatica due to back injury I sympathise with your concerns over the success rate. Talk to your specialist/surgeon about your proceedure and prognosis, bottom out the risks and make your decision on the facts applying to your case. My own recovery took 6 months for a return to work, and years before I dared ride a bike. I'm now doing 5K miles pa, and am pain free. I wish you luck and hope my experience encourages you to go forward with confidence.

posted by batch [60 posts]
26th April 2011 - 22:40


Hey Greg.

Very glad to hear your OK - great account, hope you're back up and about soon.

James (we met at Dulwich in Feb)

posted by jamesup [3 posts]
26th April 2011 - 22:54


@batch: this is encouraging news but the thought of spending years away from cycling doesn't sit too well if I'm honest: Was it a forced lay off, your choice, or a bit of both?

Hopefully I won't have to have a full-blown fusion, they'll just do the scraping/cutting away of the badness and then it's back to full health in 4-5 months...Considering the specialist physio's solution was to "do some pilates or something" it would be *quite* a turnaround!

Having said that it does look as though getting a recumbent may be a viable option, just to keep on the road if nothing else(I never, ever, thought I'd say that).

Time to grow a beard and buy some SPD sandals?

posted by dlp [51 posts]
27th April 2011 - 10:09


Called the police and left messages for the last 3 days.

No reply. No-one has taken a statement. I'm about to send them one by recorded mail anyway, but is this normal?

I'm pretty pissed off as it is without getting fobbed off by them too.

James-thanks a lot, hope you're well and been out on the hills?

edit. just been told officer now on holiday as of today. great.

...  Soyez Realiste-Demandez L'impossible ...

posted by Gregoire500 [138 posts]
27th April 2011 - 13:11


Have only ever been hit by one car; that was enough. Two cars travelling at high speed the first narrowly missed me the second hit me. I was able to get to the pavement with my bike before being finished off. Injured and bleeding I called the Police hoping that one of the many witnesses would contact them.... Nobody stopped....A Police officer did arrive with a young looking colleague and told me that I had not been hit; I had simply been startled by the car and fallen off! They drove off leaving me bleeding and injured by the side of the road; with a big black mark on my handlebars where the car had hit me. This happened 25 years ago it seems not much has changed. All I can say is I got straight back on the bike ASAP and have covered 10's of thousands of miles since without major incident! Cycling is a safe activity I have lost a few friends to car/motorbike accidents but none to cycling accidents. Long may it continue. I have always thought that if the first car had hit me the second would have killed me......Best wishes for a speedy recovery; and get back on the bike ASAP! F**k them all! They can take my bike from my cold dead hand.

posted by SideBurn [913 posts]
27th April 2011 - 19:41


SideBurn wrote:
F**k them all! They can take my bike from my cold dead hand.

I might get this put on a cycle jersey. Brilliant.

thanks for the kind words-it's appreciated and I'm still gunning for the etape though it looks like it'll be on a new bike... that must be a record.

Taking myself off to see a doctor tomorrow and hope to get a referred to a physio asap as something's not right... constant headaches, neck hurts, back hurts and when I try to bend over I get a pain in my right foot, right knee feels ruined, I have a strange ache in my lower abdomen and most bizarre of all, my left nut intermittently, eh, shouts at me?

Anyway-too much info... and too much moaning.

...  Soyez Realiste-Demandez L'impossible ...

posted by Gregoire500 [138 posts]
27th April 2011 - 21:59


dlp wrote:
@batch: this is encouraging news but the thought of spending years away from cycling doesn't sit too well if I'm honest: Was it a forced lay off, your choice, or a bit of both?

Post op, every time I stepped down from a kerb, or had someone "nudge" me in the back with a shopping trolley at the local supermarket, was a jarring painful experience, but I learned to protect myself. The lack of cycling was on the doctor's advice at the time...he told me the medical term for my back's state was bu**ered! I used an exercise bike for a while, and did a lot of walking. The worry was simply the possibility of a fall from grace at speed undoing all the good work the surgeon had done on the operating table (4 hours under the knife). Most of the lay off in the end was my own worry about how strong the pinning/new bone growth was. Eventually an x-ray convinced me that my back was strong enough to get into the saddle, and I've not looked back. I don't do full road bike and dropped bars...I've gone for a hybrid with flats...sus front and a sus seat post, but I've been absolutely fine....again my choice to go for the safer (and more comfortable) option. I guess I could have got on two wheels sooner, but my longer term prospects concerned me enough to delay going for it. My surgery included a sciatic sheath scrape next to the spinal column, so was a pretty delicate outide chance of ending up in a wheel chair. Given the continuous long term pain that medication couldn't alleviate, I was happy to take the risk of it not working. As it was, I knew it was a success as soon as I came out of the anethestetic. I've never looked back since then...apart from watching out for twits behind me!

Wish you (and other fellow sufferers) the best Smile

posted by batch [60 posts]
28th April 2011 - 0:51


Gregoire500 wrote:
Called the police and left messages for the last 3 days.

No reply. No-one has taken a statement. I'm about to send them one by recorded mail anyway, but is this normal

Yes! I work for public transport and have on occasion had to call them out for emergencies; an hours response time is good. So i'd imagine getting them to ring you back is, well...

I agree with another persons comments about the NHS they can be great and have helped me get my life back, that's not an exaggeration. However I did find that in my dealings with the NHS you have to find out what is wrong with yourself, um yourself and tell them them, repeatedly and vociferously.

Good luck for your recovery, you'll get there

posted by lazyusername [144 posts]
28th April 2011 - 8:12


Gregoire, this is an excellent account of your accident. really vivid. I'd agree that it should be compulsory reading, when learning to drive.

Hope the police get their act together.

AFAIK (from that nice Cycling Silk's blog) there's a timescale they need to do certain things in, for a court case to happen. That's their responsibility, and if they fail, then your assailant could get off scot-free.

Maybe remind them of this, or at least that they need to take your views into account? It sounds like there are witnesses, so they need to start doing their job.

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [602 posts]
28th April 2011 - 8:59


I had a similar incident a few years back and can offer some advice:
1. Keep all of your clothing as is and collate a list of the cost to replace any that is damaged. Make sure you use the RRP.
2. Get a good LBS to provide a written cost of the repair of your bike, again using RRP for any parts and to include their labour for doing the repair.
3. Photograph your injuries - road rash, etc
4. If you are a member of British Cycling go through their appointed solicitors for the civil claim. They are very good.
5. Sit back and wait for the approximate 2 years to get all of the compensations resolved.

posted by Old Cranky [278 posts]
3rd May 2011 - 10:19


Good luck - claim for absolutely everything you can. the more claims you win, the higher the driver's insurance premium will be. Given how insurance companies load up costs, this will remind the driver to be more careful in future and perhaps more effectively than any fine.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
3rd May 2011 - 12:23


Cheers chaps,

am pursuing the Police but given I've not had a single reply to my messages I'm losing faith.

Insurance-wise I'll be hammering the f$%*er for all I can-I'm missing out on 2 weeks work (freelance, so no comeback...) my new bike is fubared and I've had to endure quite a lot of pain and discomfort, and face the prospect of physio to correct the damage to my back.

Training wise it is going to be a huge setback as I don't see my being able to get back on a bike for at least another week, which means either giving up on the etape caledonia or doing it cold with little preparation and hoping for the best, which is not the way I thought it would be and doesn't sit well for the Etape proper either.


...  Soyez Realiste-Demandez L'impossible ...

posted by Gregoire500 [138 posts]
3rd May 2011 - 17:30


Glad you're ok Greg and don't stop chasing justice. It's a war out there. Most of them don't even know why they're in a rush they just know you're in their way. That's the commercial cult of the individual for you. As for the Etape? I wouldn't worry. Miss the Cal if you have to. Unless it hits 80F it isn't going to be like France anyway. just try to maintain your weight and get back on the bike as soon as you can. It's about finishing not logging a record time and it sounds as if you'll be fine.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1221 posts]
6th May 2011 - 0:39



Well expressed - I had similar experience in 09 - trauma replaced with determination to battle through the endless aggravation that follows as you seek to prove how the collision consequences impact your body, mind, career and pocket. Speedy recovery.


posted by Sudor [184 posts]
10th May 2011 - 9:55


Very vividly written. Especially the bit where you are a spectator for yourself - all the passers by, looking in - while you are just lying there...

Really wish you the best of luck and to all other people in this thread who had problems.

Personally this is a good wake up call for anyone who reads it. It's just that you see the cars everyday etc, but don't really think about what can happen. Whenever there is an option to be right or to be on your bike, always go for the latter as cars are pretty hard it turns out.

Be careful guys!

London2Paris24: 450km, 24 hours, 5th-6th July 2014

I will miss TdF in Yorskhire!!! Please donate! Big Grin

koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [335 posts]
10th May 2011 - 22:33