Equipe Flamme Rouge  

La Grande Chute ~ Tour du Mont Blanc

Col de Granier, June 5th 2010,
Lyon-Mont Blanc-Lyon Sportive.

royaleFor over 35 years I've been throwing myself in to the near scenery and beyond. 

First in cars, then on bikes, motorised and otherwise. 

On one infamous occasion, just outside Warsaw, I even managed to triple somersault a Yamaha Thunder Ace and wrap it upside down around a tree!

Life's been fast and furious.  But this one, came from absolutely nowhere, was H U G E and stung more than all the others put together.  Still, all part of the rich tapestry of life!  And after hearing the sad news from the Time Megeve, the following day, I realise how lucky I am...

The Build Up
All was going well until I punctured on the climb and replaced the tube.  At the feed, we (I) decided to change the rear wheel and go to tubs.

Inflated wheel with gas canister (1st mistake; too hard)
Didn't centre brakes correctly (2nd mistake, spongy rear brake lever)
Tried to make up lost time to catch leaders (3rd mistake...)

With three strikes and you're out, it was only going to end one way.

The Corner Entry
So, we're descending in to a tight hairpin with washboard rippled tarmac on the entry.  As you can see I'd just reached a top speed of 72 kph.  Three corners before I'd just touched 94 kph.

The spongy brake, over inflated rear tyre, dodgy road surface, and my impatience/incompetence, caused the back wheel to lock.  No problem, release and go again; we've moved 20 metres.

Lock again!  Okay, release and gently squeeze the brake, this time without locking, but another 20 metres lost...

Unfortunately, a wheel can only slow you down when it's in contact with the ground.  The washboard surface, and the high pressure in the tyre, contrived to ensure this was not to be the case.

You can see the blue line flatten, on the left, as the brake is applied, before another, final, catastrophic, wheel lock.

The bike snaps sideways, which is still okay, I'm happy to have a bike move underneath me.   It's no problem.

The Corner Exit
I'm now pointing the right way and facing down the hill at 70.8 kph.
But the corner's tightening and I drift towards the wall.  I'm slowing the bike without locking the wheels but run out of road and hit the two foot high edge-wall at 48.6 kph.  Me and my bike immediately part company!

The bike tumbles down the mountain.  I can hear it somersaulting as I'm flying through the air backwards.

The Landing
Then I hit a tree, the only tree between me and oblivion.  I hit it with the small of my back, about four foot off the ground.  To which, I am now dropping.   Ow!

Boy did it sting.  But it was far, far preferable to the alternative of not hitting it and carrying on down the ravine.

The result ripped core and back muscles.  No bruising, hardly any road rash and not a single mark on my clothing or damage to my helmet.  How ironic is that?

The Continue
So I climbed down the mountain to recover my bike, also not a single mark, and got back to the road edge, just as team-mate Richard Davy arrived.  With Dianne behind him in the team bus!

Played it down, didn't want to spook them.  Remounted and carried on for another 30k.  When I stopped for a wazz, the damage became very apparent.  Apart from red wee, I couldn't stand or stop, or move..

The Outcome
Two weeks later still can't tie my own laces, I walk like a cross between John Wayne and the spaceman robot on the Honda advert and I can't cuddle the missus.

Luckily Dianne had some pain-zapping tablets left over from her collarbone breakage earlier in the season! I'm eating them like smarties.

It only hurts when I laugh, and or breath.  And as I found out recently, sneezing is to be avoided at all costs.

Onwards and upwards, 'cause falling off downwards bloody sucks.  Anyway, here's a refresher of my Descending Skills Factsheet.  I must read it some time...

The Shower Scene
My thanks to Richard Davy (below right) who (in a Broke Back Mountain reconstruction) pulled me naked and unconscious from the shower after I "had a moment," blacked out due to the pain, then smacked my head on the taps as I went down, blocking the door which he couldn't open.

I think something was said about horses, but I can't remember...

There was blood everywhere, it was like Psycho!  Did more damage in the shower than on the flippin mountain!

Remember, always wear your helmet!  Especially in showers.

Entering the checkpoint at the foot of the Granier with Richard Davy



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