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Paralysed rider now only rides with a driver for protection after incident

A disabled cyclist was run off the road in his handcycle, was doused with Coca Cola and left in a ditch for an hour waiting for help.

Rob Groves, who has been paralysed from the waist down since 2006, was training for a charity ride from Edinburgh to London near Charlwood, East Sussex when a driver came up behind him.

He told Crawley News: "It was the first time I had been out training on the road on my own and I forgot my phone.

"I was riding along Ifield Road when I could hear a beeping horn.

"I travel really low to the ground and there is a small mirror on my bike. I could see a blue Peugeot 208 behind me.

"We were both on a narrow stretch of road and my bike does take up a lot of the road. The beeping went on for three or four minutes; all along I was looking for a space to pull over so they could overtake.

"A gap appeared and the car zoomed past by me. The passenger was obviously annoyed because they shook up a can of coke and threw it out the window at me.

"The drink sprayed all over me and the shock caused me to veer left and hit the kerb which caused the bike to topple over.

"I was thrown out of the bike and down into a two-foot ditch at the side of the road, hidden by bushes and trees."
Rob had only bought his handcycle in May, which cost him £5,000. He decided to train for a 24-hour endurance race.

After the collision he managed to crawl back up the bank but was left with no choice but to sit at the side of the road and wait patiently for help.

He continued: "Cars passed me by but it is a fast stretch of road and nobody could see me.

"After an hour I began worrying that I was in trouble, I even thought about crawling out into the road so I could be seen and get attention.

"Luckily a couple, I'd guess in their 30s, were walking in the area and I started calling out to them for help. They saved me and got me back into my bike.

"I didn't get their names but I am so grateful.

"My pride was dented more than anything," he added.

"I twisted my back but there has been no long-term damage.

"I think the driver and passenger in that car believed I was simply riding a fancy bike and didn't know I am disabled.

"There is a bright flag on the back of my bike which hopefully helps to make me stand out and I ask people to give me time. Going at 14 or 15 miles per hour is as fast as I can go.

"If you see me on the road I will pull over and give you space as quickly as it is safe for me."

Rob now only trains for his Edinburgh - London ride with an able bodied cyclist or accompanying driver for protection. You can support his efforts via his page at JustGiving.com

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.