Round-the-world cyclist Sean Conway vows to carry on after being hit by truck in Arkansas

Strangers help out Zimbabwe-born rider taking part in World Cycle Racing Grand Tour

by Simon_MacMichael   March 29, 2012  

Sean Conway bike (picture - Sean Conway, Facebook)

Sean Conway, one of the cyclists competing in the World Cycle Racing Grand Tour, the round-the-world race that began in Greenwich last month, has vowed to complete his 18,000 mile journey after being forced to take an unscheduled break from his journey across the Midwestern United States due to being hit from behind by a truck travelling at 55 miles an hour.

Conway, originally from Zimbabwe but now living in North London broke the news of the incident, which happened last Thursday as he travelled from Bald Knob to Searcy in Arkansas, on his Facebook page, where he also posted the above picture of his mangled bike.

He told local news channel KTHV that he had little recollection of the incident. The channel’s online report is headlined ‘World cyclist Sean Conway hits bump in Arkansas road,’ which as some on Facebook have pointed out seems to make light of a situation that could easily have had a tragic outcome.

“I was on the bike by 5:30 a.m. and that's the last thing I remember," Conway explained, adding:  "I sort of was thrown back on to the bonnet or the hood I think you call it here."

The cyclist, who had previously travelled through Spain and Latin America on his journey, was taken by ambulance to White County Medical Center, where two members of staff, Martin and Missy Carey, took him under their wing.

“We found out about Sean's extenuating circumstances and really just wanted to help him get back on his feet and help him get started," said Mrs Carey.

That extended to inviting Conway to stay at their home while he recovered from his injuries – whiplash, severe bruising to his legs and torn tendons, although clearly it could have been much worse – and waits for a replacement bike.

Spokes Bike Shop in Little Rock has already replaced some equipment damaged in the incident free of charge.

"If we were in a situation somewhere and needed help, we would want somebody to help us," Mrs Carey added.

Conway, meanwhile, is determined to carry on with his trip, which will take him through Texas to California then across the Pacific to Australia, Asia and finally Europe, with plans to arrive back in London ahead of the Olympic Games at the end of July.

"I've got a lot of determination to A, break the record and B, raise loads of money for charity," said Conway, who is riding on behalf of the charity SolarAid.

"I'm busy trying to recover and get back on a bike within the next sort of week or so and carry on my attempt really. Hopefully, I'll have a smoother ride from here on. I deserve it I think."

The incident is far from the first involving a UK-based cyclist being hit by a truck while attempting to ride across the United States – the highest profile case being that of James Cracknell, who nearly lost his life when he was hit by a lorry’s wing mirror in Arizona in July 2010, a few months before two Britons on a coast to coast charity ride were hit by a truck leaving one of them dead.

15 user comments

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hmm hit by a truck whilst cycling across America? as it says it does have a familiar sound to it. good luck to him.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [467 posts]
29th March 2012 - 13:15


Mark Beaumont also got knocked off in the US during his attempt. By a car, but that's not exactly much better, is it?

posted by thereandbackagain [155 posts]
29th March 2012 - 13:23


I am totally dismayed by the way they wrote that article. What happened to the driver that hit him? They made it sound like a joke and not a big deal. I don't think our roads in the US are any more dangerous than lots of other places but when the news makes light of it that is terrible. In North Dakota some of our most beautiful areas to ride are off limits now due to truck traffic in the oil fields. Way to dangerous.

posted by glock59 [10 posts]
29th March 2012 - 13:53


Charley and Ewan got hit by a truck going through America......they where on motorbikes!

Case of boring straight roads leading to tiredness and boredness at the wheel and probably the biggest issue on US and Canadian roads - next to wild animals.

posted by Farky [179 posts]
29th March 2012 - 14:00


Ewan Macgregor was hit by a Honda Civic driven by a young driver as I recall.


posted by OldRidgeback [2239 posts]
29th March 2012 - 14:38

1 Like

Best wishes to him, hope he's on the move again soon.

Can't help a chuckle that he had set out from Bald Knob though... Big Grin

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3316 posts]
29th March 2012 - 15:13

1 Like

I think that the problem is that if you want to get somewhere on roads in countries like the USA, Canada or Australia, then you don't have much choice of which road to take, and those roads also contain the trucks. Add in the fact that there is hardly any bicycle traffic, so drivers aren't looking out for them, and it is unavoidably dangerous.

Injuries sound nasty. Could take a long time before he can get going again. At least we know his Rohloff hub is going to be fine.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1356 posts]
29th March 2012 - 16:14


These guys are riding 190 miles a day, that's insane! Surprise

posted by jameshaworth21 [11 posts]
29th March 2012 - 18:23


I'm sorry, glock59, but please get your facts right, dude:
The USA have higher road death rates than much of the Western world.

Particularly the rates for cyclists are abyssmal:

Despite being the lowest developed country in cycling rates, the US has by far the highest rate of fatalities of cyclists.

The solution? Apparently cycling more, since it results in better biker protection measures:

posted by comfreak [4 posts]
29th March 2012 - 18:28

1 Like

jameshaworth21 wrote:
These guys are riding 190 miles a day, that's insane! Surprise


jaunty angle: bikes and communications

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [161 posts]
29th March 2012 - 19:55


Youtube clip here:

Sean was lying 3rd when this happened last week but is now 5th. A really nice guy I spoke to briefly at the start.

Hope I have linked this properly but some pics from the start are here:

Race can be followed on Twitter at @Worldcyclerace

Blackhound's picture

posted by Blackhound [448 posts]
29th March 2012 - 20:02


"America is about 20 years behind the rest of the 'western world' in terms of roads safety" quote from a Road Safety Auditor and highways engineer I knew that did some work over there. Driving standards are also appallingly low, as anyone who has taken a test over there will tell you, and drink-driving and using mobile phones is verging on 'normal' driving behaviour. Don't honestly know why anyone would want to ride over there unless the route was pre-planned to avoid areas that mean you are basically riding on inter-state highways.

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [310 posts]
30th March 2012 - 9:45


Agree with G-bitch,

lived in Houston, TX & J`ville, FL got US licences and driving is appalling. I passed mine back in 1982 it was even werse back then!! Angry

I used to ride on the roads, but no more. I stick to off road trails and take my chances with bears, snakes and hunters. Worried


wheelz's picture

posted by wheelz [63 posts]
30th March 2012 - 12:58


I agree we have a long ways to go to make cycling safer here on our roads and in our cities. Way to many accidents for the percentage of people that ride. It does make a big difference on where you live here too. We can ride roads where I may see only one vehicle every half hour. With less than a million people in our state we had one cycling death last year and over 100 were killed in Florida and in California. I believe those two states had the highest fatalities. I try to be as careful as possible but it just takes one idiot not paying attention when they are driving.

posted by glock59 [10 posts]
30th March 2012 - 14:05


Full marks to Missy and Mark Carey for taking Sean in whilst he healed. The USA's philosophy on national health care is as messed up as their driving skills so Sean was lucky to meet such nice people.

I had a friend who was a support driver for Race Across America and he said it was terrifying at times - ranging from inept drivers not used to seeing cyclists to parts of the South where people would pile out of bars to assault the riders and fling themselves onto the bonnets of the slow moving support cars.

It seems that US truck drivers would have to run over 3 or more cyclists simultaneously before risking prosecution. I fully believe that 1% of drivers would intentionally kill cyclists if there was no risk of damage to the vehicle and no witnesses. That cyclists get run down on lonely American highways by heavy trucks is not a surprise.

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

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1072 posts]
30th March 2012 - 15:07

1 Like