“Flippin’ heck Mike”, said a mate as we surveyed the wreckage of my Big Fat Dummy, “all the earthquakes, volcanos, rockfalls, and bears and big cats, and it’s a bloody Renault Clio just a few miles from home that takes you down!”
I’d been heading the 60km over to my folk’s place, a journey I can’t make entirely on trails, for dinner and to return a chainsaw I’d swiped a few weeks earlier, when a driver took a turn at too high a speed, crossed the central white line and ploughed into me from my 2 o’clock position. A week later I still have flashbacks, for a split second seeing that car heading straight towards me at speed and knowing what was about to happen was the single most terrifying moment I’ve ever experienced, and I’m still baffled that I’m not in hospital being pinned back together, or worse..
Of course there is no inherent meaning in these events but it is human nature to try and take something from such things.. it is not hard to imagine that maybe the universe is trying to say something.
Had the impact been a few millimetres different in position the outcome would have been very different, and had it been an SUV I think I’d certainly be finished – it would have struck around my pelvis or lower rib cage instead of lower down around my lower leg/ankle position. In the event it looks like the impact of the car’s bumper happened a few mm behind my ankle, on the crank. The Dummy was also slightly heavy at the time, probably bike + load of around 40-45kg, which combined with the tremendous amount of force absorbed as the complex cro-mo steel spaceframe of the rear of the bike folded, saved me from being flung hard as would have happened on a regular bike. Instead I ended up tangled in the wreckage with nothing worse than a load of bruising, cuts, pulled tendons and muscles.. and a degree of shock. Phenomenally “lucky” if luck is the right word… perhaps I am lucky in that this is the first time I’ve been struck in a lifetime of cycling; defensive cycling can go a long way but there are times when nothing is effective protection when cars are around.
The driver did stop, the whole family were in the car, and I have to say that they’ve been good as gold; the young driver I think was in a far worse state emotionally than I was. Of course there’s no excuse for bad driving, and I would rather it had never happened, but the way they looked after me, and have been good to engage with since the event, has been an entirely positive experience, the driver also called me a day later to see how I was; that would have been hard to do. In a world apparently full of bellendery they’ve stood out as properly decent folk; local family, live just up the road from me. There are other positives to be taken from the whole thing too… such as the reinforcement of the value of family and friends – for whom I’m profoundly grateful, and yet another reminder of the fragility of life; a full stop may lie just moments ahead. Very recently I unexpectedly lost two other people from my life locally within days of each other; one to a horrific knife attack at home, and the other just didn’t wake up one morning. Of course there is no inherent meaning in these events but it is human nature to try and take something from such things, and having become thoroughly bogged down and burned out with work and “life” – mostly due to the pandemic context – it is not hard to imagine that maybe the universe is trying to say something.
As for the Dummy.. there seems little hope for a direct replacement. The frames are no longer made, and only a handful ever made it into the UK so a second-hand one showing up seems unlikely. It’s beyond reasonable repair, most tubes (of which there are many…) would need replacing, and additional to the bent bits there are stress fractures visible too. I absolutely have to replace it with something similar, it was such a fundamental part of daily life for hauling stuff that couldn’t be done on a regular bike, as well as bringing a great deal of pleasure to my days; depending on how the insurance claim goes, there may be sufficient to have something similar made for me by a UK frame builder. There’s always a regular cargo bike of course but the combo of fat tyres and mountain bike handling really worked for me in terms of turning hauling duties into adventures. Hey ho.
Happier things; the week prior to the above a couple of buddies were planning a Monday night campout in the far west. Being somewhat bogged down and behind on a project, and feeling short of time I initially wasn’t going to go, but some relentless bugging – for which I’m grateful, persuaded me, rightly, that the only appropriate course of action was to dash out and buy a fresh bottle of whisky, throw some gear at my bike and pedal off west into the evening. The weather closed in chilly and misty, with a brief respite around dinner time that resulted in some fabulously moody skies, before the fog settled for the night. Good conversation and laughs were enjoyed just a few metres from a heavy swell booming on the rocks. It can be tough finding the motivation to head out locally here during the holiday season when roads and coast are overwhelmingly packed with people and cars, but there are still quieter spots, and times when the weather is less then ideal also represent an opportunity.
It would be wonderful to be on the road again but things are far from over so instead just trying to make the most of what’s here for another summer while thinking about what the future should look like. More than ten years after quitting my aerospace career to embark on a self-employed adventure, it feels like another crux in life’s journey may have arrived.
Well, anyway, enough of the self-absorbed rambling, I think I’m just happy to be here. Enjoy the summer, here are the rest of the pics.