The first week out of the way the exercises seem to be OK as one muscle group relaxes another seems to be taut, the upper rib cage and chest still the most painful bit. The past weekend was a nice one some really cool friends stuck their heads in always a good pick me up when your immersed in your own limited bubble. The week was ramping up to one of the hottest of the summer and the weekly routine kind of now set; breakfast in bed, nice and healthy, take it easy getting up, decide on the day’s activities that would at some point include the daily exercises, a test at some point on the bike to see how the head position was, walk of some description, lunch with wifey, the resist a snooze but the latter normally won, chill out might even treat myself to a G&T, beer or glass of wine, nice healthy tea before that evening burn and weight kicks in, neck a couple of pain killers before bed and get ready to settle down and let the bodies ambulance crews work into the night repairing me. No Ordinary life currently!
Anita went for the regular Tuesday evening ride in breathless heat albeit 17.00. Life carries on outside my world and I wouldn’t want my wife not to do the things she/we love, she works bloody hard on all fronts, work and Flow, now having to keep my arse in check, keeping fit and shredding. I’m not missing it in a strange way because I’m not ready, nowhere near ready, head position feels forced, and I don’t think I’d have any control even riding the smooth redways of MK ‘never be a passenger on the bike’. I seriously thought it would be eating me up but right here right now I’m happy (in an uncomfortable recovery way) thankful that I can do what I can do as limited as that is I’m not in a wheelchair semi paralysed! Wednesday came back to routine a surprise from a old friend from way back, was so good to catch up and added more sunshine to the cool summer morning and my exercises. Plan was to hook up with the Wednesday night crew at the burn bike park but I was absolutely shot that evening the heat taking its toll, adding to the discomfort it was going to be a long night. No Ordinary life currently!
Days now settling into some kinda of abnormal rhythm for me feeling set in a recovery lul of easing up each morning, healthy breakfast, shower, write some blog, go for a walk, plan when to do the day’s exercise, lunch with wifey, snooze, evening meal, chill before the neck shoulders and head start to get heavy the neck burn kicks in, drugs, ease into bed sleep and repeat! Progress in a way but it’s only reaffirmed when you meet someone who may not have seen you for a week or a few days “wow I can’t believe your this, your that, you look normal” (pushing it!) but it’s my gauge of my progress and it does make you feel good about things. Friday night pizza night always look forward to this, easy TV and early bed as Anita was off with the gang in the morning to ride Eastridge so I was going to be home alone Saturday! Yikes! Probably the first day I really did do sweet FA, heard Anita leave at 7am, dozed off again, up at 8.30am made breakfast and back to bed to eat, chill catch up on messages, coaching stuff, shower and up. Exercised early and thought about a walk into town but it was whazzing down and that was set for the day writing the blog, watching TV, Arsenal stuff, old and new, interviews, Moto GP, Rossi, Mandalorian, lunch snooze, hoover as best I could snooze again and Anita arrived home everyone safe. Too late to cook so we ordered in with some wine, choose a film and got cozy for the night, kinda normality even if you added the late evening issues kicking in. No Ordinary life currently!
Sunday no club ride today “what would you like to do Mark?” looked nice out so I said “shall we go for walk up the woods go to the crash site?” “OK if that’s what you want to do”. So a lazy morning we got there for 10am, no neck brace today as we walked in taking it easy, impossible climb looked greasy under foot so we opted to go down one of Jamie’s old lines next to it, then up the gully climb to the hub of a few lines in backwoods. Andy rocked up as did Adders & Kivas, also had a chat with a few other riders that had heard my plight & recovery. Wasn’t too sure how I was going to feel as last time I sat here I was about to drop into this line after having an awesome ride. Thinking back over some of the accidents I have had over the years some bike related, motor bike and car there are only two that still stick in my mind as thought provoking, one gives me the shivers still to this day, the other at 53 made me take stock of my riding, how was this accident going to fair in my mind and future riding? No Ordinary life currently!
My Crashography so to speak and thinking about it in line with my current position – historically there was always some point on that recovery road/rehab I could see myself getting back on the bike to some degree and then kicking on, this feels different here right now I can’t see that or when that might even be? Perhaps age and experience is playing a part here, I can’t quiet put my finger on it. Going back to when I was 17 and a serious RTA I thought it would be a good idea to knee a car out of the way, ripping my leg out of it’s socket and shoving it up behind my pelvis, fracturing the head of the femur cleanly, fracturing the knee cap too joys! Immediate thoughts were to get my bike, eeer no chance, and then asking the ambulance crew if I’d be fit for the cup final in a weeks’ time? Wheeling me in to Northampton Hospital as they wheeled my boyhood hero Barry Sheene out, one consolation I had the same surgeon. A month in and no chance of a hip replacement at 17, they decided radioactive dye in the bone to see if nature would do it’s thing it did and they pinned it to be safe, then home and a year non weight bearing (something they wouldn’t dream of now) it fucked my left leg up losing mass something it’s never regained all these years on. Lots of pool/aqua rehab, dad adapting my 50cc bike so I could get me self to physio crazy days, and I pass that scene thousands of times and never bat an eyelid only think that’s were I had my bike accident. It never stopped me in my sporting activity’s only drove more determination. No Ordinary life currently!
Always been sporting and good at most, county athletics & cross country, club tennis, 14 handicap at golf, club football and county trials for rugby, something had to give, ditched the running stuff, golf and tennis, too skinny for the rugby, so my energies went into football, later on this mountain biking thing. I trained at a local club (Bradwell St Peters) South Midlands league purely as it was close to home and all I wanted to do was get fit, wasn’t interested in playing after a season got selected for the reserves, played for several local teams at County level stepping up to MK Borough reserves, southern counties three tiers below Div 4 (no premiership at this point) but a good standard, plus I ran a small a side team SCF86, 5v5 / 6v6 / 7v7 leagues, became the team to beat for years and the only English club to win the Prague 6’s being the pinnacle of that team.
Started mountain biking in the late 80’s buying a Kona Lava Dome bespoke build in stealth black, project one fork, Deore thumb shifters and group set, Onza tyres and bar ends, side pull brakes and toe straps “let’s go race”. Local club level XC racing over Herts, Beds and Bucks Bill Steele events, in the top three on all the races over two seasons bagging seven top spots. Venturing further afield riding over the UK, raced one international at Cannock Chase and placed 27th out of 350 riders in category. Training for Peaks endurance event my knee blew up at Woburn and knowing Mark Booth (Uk rider/Tri guy) popped to see him “Jamsey your pelvis is all out of line you need to get that checked out”. No Ordinary life currently!
OK I’d lost 20mm off my hip bang goes football, after a year battling NHS red tape got referred to the Nuffield Orthopaedic in Oxford (spooky eh) BHR Birmingham hip resurfacing was to be the outcome after a year battling with walking like Charlie Chaplin. Two weeks and I was up and at em, on my feet after 5 days post op. Set about getting fit once more, down the gym doing pool/aqua work outs, gym work, there was always a point I could see me being back on the bike and I was and duly competed the Nats Peaks off road challenge of 50K. Riding the UK once more, and my local Woburn and Aspley woods some 34 years now. Carried on the football for a bit but riding my bike was to end up being the main attraction and has been ever since. Clubbing era and owning a dance record shop kinda got in the way in those foggy dry iced years before re-discovering the bike Specialized Rock-Hopper with I hasten to add had Rock-shox Judy’s front forks, still side pull brakes but wow. No Ordinary life currently!
Overtime I apparently wore the BHR out and suffered aseptic loosening on the femur fixation! Bugger! Back to the Nuffield Orthopaedic in Oxford where it was confirmed and on November 11th 2009 had a THR but some swanky new hip tech Stryker Accolade system, cemented in my Femur, with ceramic head and cup enabling possible revisions, a guinea pig of sorts but in five days again I was back on my feet and out again in two weeks post op, cracking on with rehab de-ja-vu and I recall I was with Anita now and come Boxing Day that same year I rode my bike again around the streets and never looked back enjoying riding my bike home and over Europe before Manzine (Morzine became the Benidorm of MTB). The DH scene had really kicked off now something I wanted to get into, but again there was always the bike at the end of the recovery tunnel and I could visualise it. No Ordinary life currently!
I have had a few crashes over the years knackering my shoulder, inflamed bursa, got that sorted, flat side crash thought I’d broke my THR but again just soft tissue and muscular. Big crash at Cwm Carn DH tracks, wet day few wash outs on my YT Tues – bike of the year 2013 – passing riders/friends/Anita asking if I was OK “yeah I’m fine”. I set off and that’s the last thing I can recall other than being strangled up-side down, putting my full face on the track hanging onto a tree f’ing and jeff’ing at myself as to what I was doing and where I was, then the photographer asking if I wanted a hand up with my bike. Rolled down the trail into the car park to the waiting Anita and mates “where have you been, you’ve been gone an hour”. To this day it’s an hour I’ve lost in my life only those broken flashes, straight to A&E at the local hospital on a loop asking for tea n cake before throwing up with concussion, wasn’t to be the last! I never rode there again until 2019 booking on a course with Olivier Morris on a DH speed day, putting those demons to rest finally a cracking day even if I was on an enduro bike “the old boy can ride”. No Ordinary life currently!
Woburn bike park 2018, Anita about to hit the middle gap on transfer line. Set off quick, check she was on point that’s the last thing I recall. The M7 line gaps the transfer line and some guy had literally jumped into my head his peddle cutting a gash in my Fox rampage, his tyre marking the and my back, Anita dropping the F- bomb (un-heard of !!!) but again on the repeat loop of concussion and off to MK A&E; pointless night of waiting over 5 hours not even triage so we checked out and went home to recover via Google! Again never really fazed me and I was back on the bike doing all the crazy stuff, racing downhill, enduro races over the UK. There was always a bike or being back on it on the radar just a matter of when. No Ordinary life currently!
So the car crash was sandwiched in amongst this lot at some point 2007 I think, wet autumn afternoon, road through Salcey Forest a road driven countless times, long right hander felt the back stepping out on my Mitsubishis FTO, tried to correct it but it went into over steer, brace hands off the steering wheel (slow mo this one) cartwheeling through ditches bending the car in half before being spat across the road into another ditch falling out the car into said ditch cuts n scrapes and wandering on the road in a daze. Checked out at Northampton General and home but still to this day gives me the shivers every time I drive past that spot and never had any impact on riding the bike.
The other one is mountain bike related back in 2018 at Chicksands bike park. Windy as hell day but in the basin of the woods still as can be, one of those days when you’re riding just wasn’t happening, getting angry as the gang Anita, Carl, Matt, Steve, Mark, Nikki went off to run the snake run, I thought bollox I’ll go hit the bull run and gap adjacent to the walk way. Something that had taken a while to get in my ride repertoire but I’d nailed it on a loan 26” inch Canyon Torque and had done ever since. Coming in hot perhaps too hot but thought speed on this run isn’t such a bad thing ghosting over the first rise and nearly landing to flat on the second leading to that gap, again thinking shit I’m quick, hit it and slow mo kicked in briefly before fast forward SLAM ending up sliding down the landing transition sitting up bike thrown 20 yards away feeling dazed. Off to MK General Hospital for another pointless wait, x-ray and possible fracture of my Acromion (shoulder blade) sling and home before the battle of the consultants ensued “is it broke, oh no it’s not! oh yes it is” I gave up in the end. Don’t get me wrong as I said in a previous post I have the uppermost regard for all the NHS staff regardless of position but like in any organisation there’s always some bell ends and until this day not sure why a foot specialist got involved! This at 53 altered my riding perception and it was as clear as day “why am I doing this stuff, what do I have to prove, why am I chasing the next big feature were the consequences are far greater if it all goes tits up”. I can hold my own with most riders across the board, in races and out on the trails and bike parks I’m content and love my riding, racing and coaching. No Ordinary life currently!
As we entered into week four of my new un-ordinary life, easing up each morning, healthy breakfast, shower, write some blog, go for a walk, plan when to do the day’s exercise, lunch with wifey, snooze, evening meal, chill before the neck shoulders and head start to get heavy the neck burn kicks in, drugs, ease into bed sleep and repeat! May throw in a few extras if you’re lucky… visit from Dad so he took me out, trying to resist having any pain killers until it was really on the uncomfortable side of things, another try on the static bike, naaah not having any of it, parked again, Kieron came over for few days and helped strip down some bits in his bedroom ready for eBay all made for a change. Increased some of the exercises that do not stress the neck too much up to 20 reps.
So getting back to my current state of mind verse the other crashes where there was a most definitive time on the recovery road when I’d be back on the bike. Perhaps patience comes with age but I think the possible severity of what could have so easily been a different road for me has altered my recovery outlook in “I’m thankful I’m pretty much fully functional”. Visiting the crash scene didn’t seem to faze me looking at it, as per the picture above, it was nothing I really contributed to like if I’d cut a new line, hit a new big feature where the risk level increases as does the possible consequences if it does go wrong, this was just an ordinary trail ridden thousands of times. No Ordinary life currently!
I was bit taken back how far I got thrown from the bottom of the picture head n neck first into the stump, spinning to a stop where Anita was standing the rest is new ride history! So the bike is there as are the trails. I need to feel like I’m fully functional when sitting on the bike with my head not straining to be normally positioned to ride, my shoulders need to be free of the stiffness and lack of mobility. The first of those benchmarks will be on the turbo bike, moving onto the cycle ways around MK, before moving to the bridleways of the woods. As to when those goals will be I can’t say currently but I’m working as hard as my body will let me to put them on the radar and I hope a defined marker on my road to recovery. No Ordinary life currently!