Tan Hill 600: 11thJune: What Really Happened!
The Long day began at 03.30 No time for breakfast and didn’t feel like it anyway. On Bike 3.50 and arr. At St Leonards Church Hall in Padiham at 05.05. This gave me time to get my tea and toasts and check in for my Brevet Card. Chat with some familiar faces and be ready for the off at 06.00. Up Trough of Bowland and straight on at The Tower towards Quernmore. Then back roads and over to Carnforth Truckhaven at Warton. 62 km now at 8.40. A choc bar with my receipt as PoP or “Proof of Passage” at Control 1. Many were seen here in various states of need. Continued on road to Windermere and met Paul Roberts and Dave Atkinson, two Organisers who were also doing the long ride, possibly as part of their plan to complete it as part of their SR or “Super Randoneur” series of 200, 300, 400, and 600 km rides. Weather now deteriorated and some of us made a wrong turn in the rain. Quickly corrected it and onto The Wrynose Climb from the Cattle Grid (CG), and up to summit of 1.3 km in 20 mins in my lowest gear. Met several others here and set off down after they’d gone. Trust me to be stuck behind a car that was going down unnecessarily slow and excessively braking even on the gentle undulating bits. I suppose it was due to caution on some of the bends and due to unfamiliarity of the unseen dips that lay ahead. Less than 10 mins to the start of The Hard Knott climb and I was up in less than 15 mins on this very steep 1 km bit. What now lay ahead was a very bumpy road in places and on double bends, where I nearly lost it as my hands tried to bounce off my handlebars as the Ragley Aluminium Bike bounced up and down in sync. with the infernal bumps. At least it was Dry at the moment. I’m glad no cars were met coming the other way and at the final CG to the bottom. An undulating section to Holmrook & then Seascale Control at 143 km. Arriving at 12.47 I was now ready for my meal. A Quiche piece and bowl of chips with salad and tea, with a bit extra from a fellow rider Dean, was enough to see me on my way at 1.30 that day. Following mainly, Richard Barnett and Steve Gee towards Honister Pass we advanced on Dave. Now with the 4 of us going up the pass the weather got very wet indeed. Glad I got up without having to stop or get off, I let the bike go somewhat more than I should have done. As I realised that I could not now brake effectively as I passed Dave, screaming at him, & with mounting anxiety it turned imminently bad! After taking 3 bends at Break-Neck speed, it was the sight of a car immediately in front that seemed to be standing motionless that really shook me up. Do I take left and risk collision with a wall, or straight into the back of the car or, as I did, right into the rough?! What then happened I have no idea. One moment on the bike, the next, I was stood clutching my head, dazed and confused. People-rather cyclists were around me. I became aware that I could not lift my head up from my right side as it was at an angle and also leaning forward. My helmet felt cracked, and was still on my head and as someone carefully removed it I could see that the blood was everywhere on it. My shoulder was seething and well bloodied as was my hip abrasion. I also had finger & wrist cuts and the side of my tongue was bitten and numbed. The groin area also felt very swollen and delicate. As for The Bike! I was unable to comprehend it at that moment. It would be sent to a Police Station in Workington. My Para-medics took me to Carlisle A & E Hospital. The other cyclists continued on. This happened at about 4 pm and 193.5 km into the ride (computer said so). The third Control was just metres away at 194 km and in the Hamlet of Seatoller. The other Controls that I would have had to have gone to were: 4.Wigton:236 km, 5.Lockerbie:292 km, 6.Lanehead:385 km (brief sleep stop), 7.Stanhope:448 km, 8.Tan Hill Inn:493 km, 9.Castle Bolton:521 km, 10.Gargrave:571 km, 11.Finish at Padiham:603 km. All this and 7750m or (Audax Terms) 7.75 AAA’s (Audax Altitude Awards) Points inside a max. time of 40 hours. To finish at/before 10pm on Sunday!
Anyway, as I lay there in the treatment room waiting to be dealt with I couldn’t help thinking of letting The Ride Organiser, Andy Corless, know of my plight. His “Event Phone” number was on The Brevet Card in my jacket. Even after 3 phone calls from landlines to his mobile proved inadequate. A voice-mail connection took my messages and I was left guessing as to if he got them at all.
Again, I was told that they had to cut away my 3 quarter length Bibs and Jacket, when in fact I could have removed them myself. Of course this was to be an unnecessary expense for me at a future date, but now it was an embarrassing time as all I had left to wear of my own were the cycling shoes and socks! My Rack Bag had of course gone with my Bike to Workington, but, in any case I had no spare clothes in there to change to as I expected to be riding 2 days and one night for most of the time.
The eventual wait for the CT Scan to my head and X-Ray to my R. Shoulder was over. No breaks were showing. Small consolation as I could hardly move my head up and round from the position it had decided to settle into.
The Head cuts looked really terrible and felt even worse when I had “tree bark” pulled out by tweezers one at a time. Given tablets and despatched to a treatment room I was given the all-clear!
I would be left here and moved to the “patients waiting area-corridor”, as and when the bed/room was needed. It was a long night, punctuated only by the orderly bringing me my only snack. Three burnt toasts with jam, a cuppa tea and a Yoghurt. I was given a mini bus taxi ride to Workington-50miles away at 6.30 in the morning.
Arriving there, after 8.00, in my neat and quaint green kimono top (with no sash) and fleshy coloured bottoms + red cycling shoes; I must have looked a right twit. Trying to phone thru to get inside past the entrance alcove was my next trick. The Police Station wasn’t due to open until 10 o’clock, and it actually was a call centre person that I was talking to. Let-in, I was to be the subject of gawping police officers for the next 2 hours. Salvation came when the desk opened, to be told that The Officer dealing with my case was still here on duty. I signed for my bike and now saw what had really happened to it.
The Jockey wheels had gone into the wheel! A rear spoke was bent due to the Jockeys. Outer Gear Cable had perished. Front Derailleur Cage was twisted. Front Wheel was wobbly. Front Levers were twisted inwards. Saddle was badly abraded. Front Forks looked cracked. Well what am I to do now with this and me like I was, over here in The Lake District, miles from Home?? My saving grace was my Friend (and Organiser) Chris Crossland’s phone number which I had committed to memory (the only one number I knew). Getting through at about 11.00 he exclaimed that he would bring along some ill-fitting clothes and that it would take him some time to get over here, in his wife’s car, since it was she who would be driving here to come and get me. 3pm and here they were. A stop at Tebay Services for the most wonderful Fish & Chips ever, and over to Halifax (with Duff Bike) for 7pm. So this was the end of my wet unlucky weekend. I’m lucky to be able to tell my story but it’s not the end of the road just yet. In 2 weeks time more was to unfold, but that’s another tale of The 5 M’s Ride! Watch this space.