Monday, 21 August 2006

Sunday 20 August 2006 - Redhill and Oxford Falls

We (Whisperer, Matt, Doug, Brian, T-Bone, Rees and Stephe) set off in the warm glow of early daylight from Lady Penrhyn Drive - after the obligatory pre-ride repairs (both Brian and Stephe blew a tube while pumping up their tyres...).

The day looked promising, the sun was out and the track had the odd puddle but was otherwise in near perfect condition.

It wasn't long before we were pushing each other up the early small technical sections, with a bit of huffing and puffing showing that perhaps we were not quite yet warmed up. Then, we were into the Redhill rock section, with everyone on fire - although T-Bone was so excited about Stephe's split lip from the fortnight before that he went over the handlebars in exactly the same place, albeit with a *far* better outcome! What's more, he was 'straight back on that horse', and over the challenge again a minute later - ah, talent and youth, what a dangerous combination...

There was a general pushing of the envelope: Whisperer and Brian demonstrating closet trials riding skills that had never before seen the light of day, Rees taking on every challenge just quietly in the background, but successfully, Doug racing ahead to 'do the photos', despite the fact that he thinks the whole rock hopping thing sux, and Matt and Stephe demonstrating that stupidity is still the best option...

As always the photos and video clips do no justice to just how scary it all really was.

The singles track uphill to Oxford Falls was uneventful, and the race down the cross country track was a blast (marred briefly by T-Bone demonstrating a front wheel washout at the coffin; and by the silly decision (as it turns out) *not* to turn off on the Road to Nowhere to drop into Deep Creek from the north...).

The last real recollection your humble correspondent has of the ride was coming down the four wheel drive track very fast, lots of air, past Brian (safely as I recall), past Doug (less tidy, but trying to give him a wide berth), then asking everyone to leave me alone for a while as I lay eating rocks in a sad and crumpled state in the middle of the track. Four ambulances and nine hours in hospital later, lots of pain, a broken clavicle (the x-ray looks very messy), and a chipped C5 were the outcome. See you all in eight to twelve weeks. Ah, no talent and age - a very dangerous combination!


an addendum from the rider behind (Doug)....

it was easy for you to give Doug a wide berth because he'd been riding on the edge of the road waiting (hoping) for you to pass since the start of the hill

...you hit the ramp at the top of the scariest part of the decent (the bit where Brian has nearly run off the road twice, at half the speed you were doing) at 40-50kph....combined with an exuberant leap this resulted in probably much more "air" than you were expecting, I'd say 3-4 feet (that's 1m-1.2m, T-Bone).

From the moment you left the ground I knew this was going to be either the best or the worst attempt at human flight I'd ever seen...

...your angle of momentum was slightly across the road from left to right, I think this may have caused you to attempt to adjust left while airborne to save landing in the rocks off the road to the right...alas without flaps and a rudder there was little chance of success

...you landed heavy on the front wheel pretty much directly in front of me...it was quickly obvious that your slightly confused angle of momentum would remove any chance of the usual skilful recovery....you compressed the front end, bounced slightly left and then dived head first into the ground...that bit explains the broken bones, however you still had 40kph to get rid of and that took many horrible seconds to unfold...lucky for me it also gave me time to apply the brakes and not run you down

Your recollection of the next few minutes is fairly accurate...we all stood around checking for obvious injuries, thankful that you were still responsive at least...after a few minutes you got tired of lying in the dirt facing downhill (looked comfy to me) and we/you managed to get you sitting on the side of the road

...called ambos and they sent the entire fleet...5 all up, 3 came down the track to you, the first was a 2wd VW van...not sure how he got out, I think they were going to tow him with a 4wd...these guys/girl were absolutely fantastic, professional and friendly...you had high-tech gadgetry all over you in minutes, plus drugs to ease the pain...a helicopter trip would have been nice tho

The rest is obvious from the photos...except that the scariest part was that you vagued out several times...you had no idea where you were, what happened and how old you were...if it wasn't for the head injury we would have made you walk out...like you made Brian walk out


and, a further addendum on logistics, for those that care:

First off we all huddled around you to assess the damage. It took maybe 5 mins to work out that you had probably broken your collarbone, then another 2-3mins to decide that you had a head wound, you were not the full quid and we were not going to make you walk out (like you did to Brian...there was some discussion about forcing you to walk out though...Brian kept bringing it up for some reason)

We discovered that we had a least two mobile phones (why everyone doesn't bring one beats me)...after a short workshop T-Bone was elected to dial triple-0 as he was the closest thing to the establishment we had...I stood by with GPS co-ordinates (not sure if they used these in the end) and to make sure that T-Bone didn't miss anything (like the head wound bit...I figured this would hurry them more than a trivial broken shoulder).

Whisperer was assigned logistics (and he was good at it too)...he decided to dispatch two riders to make sure the ambos didn't get lost and to get someone from the aerodrome to open the gate. Rees and Matt set off up the hill. I believe that no-one was at the aerodrome, however they met someone at the gate who agreed to leave it open, then they went up to meet the ambos and escort them down.

The next problem was bike extraction. The logistics manager decided to ride your bike to the top and chuck it into the bushes for later retrieval by car, then run back down and ride his own bike out. Fortunately he met the other two ambos at the top and one offered to take the bike back to St Ives ambo station for safe keeping.

Meanwhile Rees arrived back at the scene with the first ambo, a 2wd VW van. This ambo didn't dare drive down the last 200m so they had to get out and walk their gear down. They were on the job cutting your clothes off, putting up with your smart arse jokes for 5-10mins before the ambo guy asked me to ride to the top to make sure that the 4wd ambos didn't get lost. I set off but only got as far as the second water bar before they arrived.

Then another 4wd arrived with the ambo boss. So you had a mob of about 13 people fussing over you at this point. They doped you up, stuck a collar on and some bandaids then chucked you in the back and suddenly you were gone. We rode back up the hill, down the singles track to the earth-stations and back over to beacon hill. Whisperer did some fancy navigation to get us there by the shortest but most painful route (he did much better at navigation than THAT last time we won't mention here).


Photos, tracks, profile here (thank goodness we had Doug back), with some sample photos below.


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