Well it only took me five days and two cycles before 2014 welcomed me with an almighty thud, and a painful reminder that even when the roads look OK, it only takes a moment to hit a patch of ice and find the road heading towards your face at an alarming rate.
The day didn’t start well. I must have fallen straight to sleep when I got into bed last night, as somehow I’d neglected to set an alarm for work, so was woken by a phone-call just after 7am from my colleagues, who were wondering whether to send out a search party to find me on the ground having crashed… which would turn out to be alarmingly close to what was about to happen.
Although I was going to be pretty late to work, I wasn’t rushing when I left the house – if you’re planning on being late to work, a quiet Sunday morning is a pretty good day to pick. It was a chilly morning, a couple of degrees below freezing, and I took it easy out of the estate cycling over a crisp layer of frost, but as soon as I got out of the estate the roads had been gritted and seemed to be ice free.
Everything was fine as I took my usual route along Riseholme Road, left onto Longdales Road, and left again onto Nettleham Road, and even when I had to brake to stop for a car at a roundabout my tyres had plenty of grip on the road.
As I approached Waitrose, I remembered it was my turn to get milk for work, and realised that the petrol station would be open and I could buy some there. So as I got to the lights, I took a left at about 25km/h. Had I carried straight on I’d have been fine, but as I left Nettleham Road and turned onto Searby Road, I went from a gritted surface straight onto a sheet of ice.
Both wheels instantly slipped out from underneath me, and I left the bike and hit the ground hard. I’m not sure what hit first, but my jaw hit the road hardest and took the brunt of the crash, opening up a nasty gash on my chin which instantly started bleeding over the road, my jacket, and my bike.
I took a couple of moments to work out what, if anything was broken, and once I’d worked out that all my limbs and my jaw were moving properly, dazed and a bit shaken I staggered up and tried to pick my bike up. A woman had been waiting at the lights across the junction and had seen my crash, so when the light changed she drove across and got out of her car and helped me move my bike out of the road. She got some wipes out and gave them to me to try to stop the bleeding, and I thanked her and said I’d take a couple of minutes to sort myself out before continuing to work.
I phoned work to let them know I’d be even later, and then realised it was probably a bad idea to try to cycle the rest of the way in, so someone came out to pick me and the bike up. I’d intended to clean myself up and get on with my work, but it didn’t take long to realise the cut to my chin would need looking at, and I was covered in cuts and bruises from the crash.
I was given a lift home, had a quick shower, and took myself to A&E, where the cut was glued back together. Amazingly, none of my clothing was damaged at all, apart from an inexplicable hole in the back of my thermal base layer, despite there being no rips in the jersey or jacket that were covering it.
And most importantly of all, the bike survived almost unscathed, except for a bit of a rip to the bar tape. I’m back home now, nursing my wounds, waiting for the inevitable pain tomorrow morning, and thanking the cycling Gods that it wasn’t a hell of a lot worse. It could have been.