jeff's crash report
It was day 16 of our odyssey, Sun 15th August to be exact, and we overnight in Wien, Capital of Austria in a campsite now beyond my memories' capacity to recall. The day dawned not cold but certainly not warm as August hereabout ought to be and with more than a hint of rain. marvin lead off with Ian, Crispin, Jim and I in tow, leaving Andy to do his own thing and Jeremy/Mike to catch us up later. We headed off in the wrong direction and spent 30 mins riding round the outskirts of Wien until marvin's hard wired into brain GPS engaged and then we were Ok for Modling, our first stage-post, en-route to Radstadt some 197 mile to the Southwest. Easy riding even the mountains seemed tame after all we had been thro'; and the 5 of us made steady progress, even seeing Andy pass by as we stopped for a snack lunch at a Fuel Station early in the afternoon. I don't think he saw us. At some stage the threat of rain turned into the real thing and it got colder so we had stopped to put on the full Monty wet kit.
It continued easy riding and I guess about 17.00 hrs we were approaching Liezen having come thro' Seizthal, some 70 miles from the days destination, along a side road but approaching a main road where we would have to turn right. As happens Crispin was in front of me, me playing tail end Charlie, with the three others some distance ahead. There was light traffic the whole way so overtaking the cages was quite normal with all the attendant splitting that occurs. At the junction Crispin was first, then a white VW van thing, then me. I decided to pull alongside the van and to turn with him into the main road so I could easily pull ahead. Here lies the cause and the effect was to be seen very soon. Let me say there was no hassle with the van nor was I going particularly fast or trying particularly hard to catch Crispin or the others. So the road was clear and the VW and I turned together and as soon as safe (wrong) I wapped the fast button to pull ahead. I'm not really sure how far I got from the junction, Jeremy (who came upon the scene sometime after) thinks it was 4 or 5 car lengths but my memory is that it starting to go wrong very soon and the bike was nearly down on the RH side 'cus I immediately knew my right leg was broken and thought how in hells name am I going to keep the bike up right if I should manage to stop still on the bike and upright.
Then the bike solved the problem by spitting me off or more likely I fell off. In any event I was on the road and I could see the bike going its merry way. My first thought was I'm OK but my leg is broken, fuck there goes the rest of my riding for the holiday. Then I wanted to avoid the 'Don't remove your helmet' argument so quickly took it off. Then I felt a bit odd so placed my gloves on the road and lay down with my head on the gloves and that felt better. I was aware that people and cars had stopped but as far as I remember the first person I heard was Crispin, who had heard the bike go down and turned round to help (cheers Crispin U were great as were all the guys throughout the whole business and apologies for screwing up part of our expedition). I told him that I was fine but had broken my leg and could he make sure the GPS ( borrowed from McFrame and thanks Alan it was great and am going to get one as soon as I am back on a bike) was OK and put away safe. Then the usual waiting for the ambulance, I guess only a few minutes and in the event a helicopter which took me to accident hospital about 40k away.
By the time I was loaded into the 'copter I was aware that most of the crew was there and giving me support. The ambulance people and doctor in the 'copter were great, everything you would want in such circumstances. They gave me gas/air on the flight so that went quickly and we arrived at Kalwang to this huge building in a tiny village. In being wheeled into the facility I was reminded of the USA film where they capture an alien and transport it to a remote military facility to conduct experiments. The camera is the eye of the thing and all it see is the black building and all the staff standing in white coats and masks. It was just like that, no one around just masses of hospital staff all waiting to get their hands on me. Scary!
No waiting straight to the operating theatre, usual question from the docs (all in good English) while the nurses stripped me of all the layers very carefully without cutting anything. Only small problem was the boots as they couldn't see how they fastened so attempted to pull them off without undoing the Velcro. Loudly I made them do it properly. The only real pain was when they asked me to sit up so the could do the epidural thing but that was soon over and I slipped into a quite contentment, awake but very relaxed. After the X-rays they confirmed what I already knew, my right leg was broken thro' both bones about 4" up from the ankle.
They wanted to pin the leg with a USA made nail and they took great delight in telling me that the break was just like Schumacher's and the nail would be just like his. So that's what they did, I could see what they did, a curtain was erected between me and them, and I sure as hell couldn't feel anything but I could hear it all , the hammering, the drilling and the obvious effort in doing it all. At last it was over, the doc said it was all OK and as they took away the curtain all I could see was bandage from thigh to toes and the drains from both ends of the leg. As they pushed me out I saw all the blood and gore over the floor, nasty!
Only later the following day did I realise that I had a catheter as well as all the drips and drains. No wonder when the guys came in I looked, odd the morphine in one of the drips was keeping me happy and less lucid than usual. All the pipes came out over the next 36hours and I quickly came back to normal. Indeed a lovely young physio came to see me on the Mon. to get me to walk. I looked a bit shocked but she said I could do it (in a very firm Thomas the Tank Engine voice) although I might feel a bit faint or even sick. She got me up, wearing a join at the back hospital shift very fetching, I took 2 steps and then proceeding to projectile vomit all over both of us and the floor. I went back to bed and threw up for the next 24hrs.By Wednesday, the guys took off to Germany and I was now walking a few steps more each day aided by my nice young physio. The Doc came each morning and evening and said if I continued to improve I could go home on Mon or Tues.
The travel insurance had covered all the details and would send a nurse out to bring me back and in the event that happened on Tues 24 Aug some 10 days from the accident. The nurse Sue was great as were the two ambulance men that took us from Kalwang to Wien Airport some 200k away. Bypassed all the usual check nonsense by being driven direct to the plane and loaded onto the BA757 by lift. A small delay as the ambulance men supported by the airport police insisted that I couldn't walk up the steps which is what BA wanted to hasten the departure of the plane. This was solved when the coppers said they would arrest the BA flight dispatcher if he didn't carry out the instruction of the senior ambulance man. He did, so Austrian Officials 1 BA 0.
From then on all OK, me horizontal on 3 seats and the nurse alongside taking up all of one row in club class. Quick transfer at Heathrow on trolley and up to Manchester where a nice new Merc Ambulance awaited to take me home. Arrived at The Barn House around 19.00 having left Kalwang at 09.00 so was very tired but leg was OK. Very funny dreams that night, must have been all the drugs the Austrians sent me off with.
So here I am just over 4 weeks since the accident and doing well. Hope to be off the crutches in 10 days or so and back on a bike before the year-end. Come the new year will have to decide what to buy as a new bike, one a bit less heavy methinks and don't overtake going round a junction particularly when there is gravel off the racing line.
Happy riding and cheers.
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