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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.