A doctor has told a cyclist she is “lucky to be alive” after the rider was seriously injured when she and her companion were attacked by a kangaroo as they rode along an off-road bike trail in South Australia.
Sharon Heinrich, aged 45, and her friend Helen Salter, 47 were riding along the 27-kilometre Riesling trail, which follows a disused railway line in the Clare Valley wine-growing area, when what is believed to be a male buck leapt out at them near Penwortham.
Mrs Heinrich sustained fractured ribs, internal injuries and cuts due to the kangaroo’s claws digging into her, while Miss Salter suffered concussion, reports the Northern Argus.
She told the newspaper: “I’ve lived here for quite a few years and I was riding the trail for the first time. I saw him [the kangaroo] and thought ‘oh isn’t he cute’ – then he was on top of me.”
After crashing into Mrs Heinrich, the animal then pushed off with its legs and collided with her friend.
“I’m 5’4” and he was taller than me, and so heavy,” said Mrs Heinrich. “Once he landed on me, he used me to launch off again, which caused more damage.”
After the incident, Miss Salter went into Penwortham to find help, while tourists looked after Mrs Heinrich, who was taken to hospital in Adelaide, around 110 kilometres to the south.
“When the surgeon saw me in Adelaide he said I was lucky to be alive – kangaroos are solid muscle and incredibly powerful,” she went on. When he landed he went completely through me, if he had become caught in the bike the outcome would be a lot different.”
While signs warning of the presence of kangaroos are found on the side of roads in the region – the picture above shows the Tour Down Under peloton passing one – Mrs Heinrich said that the trail could also benefit from them.
“I live on a farm in the region, I know kangaroos are around here,” she explained. “But tourists from the city have no idea – I really think there needs to be signs placed along the trail to warn people about them.
“They jump without warning and at the last minute – people need to be careful.”
According to the caption of a picture accompanying the Northern Argus article, Mrs Heinrich’s husband sought to cheer her up after the incident by presenting her with a soft day of a boxing kangaroo – an example, perhaps, of robust Aussie humour in the face of adversity.
In New South Wales last month, a cyclist on a training ride with his club mates was hospitalised when a kangaroo leapt out onto the road and crashed into him, the incident captured on camera by a rider who was following him.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.