“Can you tell me your name?”
“What’s your date of birth?”
“Do you know where you are?”
I’m Darren McCann, my date of birth is 18th November. I’m about 100m from the finish line of the Seamus Kennedy Memorial in Dunboyne. I won’t be getting any closer. I’m laid out on the road and any attempts to get up are hampered by a pain stabbing through my back, shoulder and into my ribs. I can’t get up…. This is not good.
“How did you get here today?”
Well, coming into the final sprint the guy in front of me went down and I had nowhere to go but over him. For a second I thought I’m going to somehow stay up……I actually don’t even think that thought lasted a second before I mashed myself into the tarmac.
“Hang on, I meant how did you get to the race?”
Oh, right yeah. I drove here.
I’m in a bad way. The first aid support is reluctant to let me move in case I have broken ribs and could potentially puncture my lung. Turns out that the protocol for possible punctured lungs means no pain relief either. They do however make me as comfortable as possible whilst we wait on the ambulance to arrive. The sun appears from behind the clouds and provides a nice warm blanket on me. At this stage I’m naked from the waist up as the remnants of my tattered skinsuit has been cut from my back to get a better view of the damage. I’m glad it isn’t March, I’d be absolutely frozen down here.
Lying there, staring into the sky, the occasional familiar face appears. “You alright down there bud?”, “Grand, thanks!”. A clubmate pops into view, “I’ve got your bike, will I bring it home?”. Dreading the answer, I have to ask “Is the bike ok?”. “It looks OK” he says but I’m not sure if he’s just sparing me the added misery of a broken bike. “One more thing before you head off……………….will ye stop my Garmin!”
The ambulance arrives. I’m carefully scooped up off the ground and brought to hospital. When we get there I’m introduced as “Darren, 35, fell off his bike”. “Unfortunately we can’t give you any pain relief until you’ve had an x-ray…..Protocol”. “That’s no problem, I reply through gritted teeth”
An x-ray, clean-up, sling and some painkillers later the doctor arrives with the diagnosis. Nothing broken but severely bruised ribs, a separated AC joint (meaning my collarbone though intact is no longer connected to my shoulder), torn ligaments, road-rash everywhere and a general battering. “Any idea how long it will take to recover?” I’m told it depends on the extent of the damage but in fairly certain terms made understand there will be no more cycling for a while.
2018 was not supposed to end like this. I just needed one more point to make A3. There were plenty of races left to do it but now it seems I have run out of road.
My phone has been hopping with messages of sympathy and advice. I’ve been informed by many that “I’m lucky. Sure it could be worse, you could have broken your neck or been killed”. I take great comfort that I didn’t reach the worst possible outcome. I’m lucky my bike isn’t broke. I’m lucky I didn’t break any bones either (even though it’s still incredibly painful). I’m unlucky it happened but “Hey, that’s bike racing!”. I’m lucky it’s the last week of the Tour de France, I’m off work, I can’t venture far from the sofa and I’m lucky I have a helpful patient wife who is keeping me in tea and painkillers.
Vive la Tour, Vive 2019 (The year of the point)