TRF:Hi Ben. Sounds like you’ve been in the wars. What’s the current condition of your shoulder?
Ben:I’ve fractured my left scapula, which I understand is the triangular bone, or shoulder blade. They don’t put you in a cast because it’s quite deep in your body, which means I’m constantly twinging it! It will be 6-8 weeks before it has healed and then up to 6 months before it’s up to full strength.
TRF:Sounds painful. Let’s backtrack, what was the TRF ride out that you were on?
Ben:It was a ride in Herefordshire and Wales organised by Paul Benjamin. So far we’d had riding quite similar to that we find at home although a lot more overgrown and less travelled. We’d just stopped for lunch à la petrol station and fueled up, about 40 miles into a 100 mile ride.
TRF:So what actually happened?
Ben:This is the embarrassing bit. It was a farm track, almost entirely flat, no ruts or anything even slightly difficult. I turned into the corner and lost the front on the gravel and was catapulted into the ground. I kept my arms tucked and took the brunt on my shoulder. I think anyone that has ridden with me will know I have fallen off before; this was the first time I instantly felt I’d been hurt.
TRF:OK, so you’re lying there on the ground. You know you are hurt. Was it mad panic or did the other riders you were with know what to do?
Ben:It was pretty good actually; Bob and Vern stopped me moving whilst Paul B kept talking to me (other riders having gone ahead).
TRF:The air ambulance looked quite exciting, though I’m sure you weren’t feeling that at the time. What happened when the paramedics arrived?
Ben:After 10 or 15 minutes of waiting, we heard a helicopter in the distance and someone joked, “That’s for you Ben.” It came closer and someone else said, “Well it is a red one.” It started circling and I was soon forgotten about as everyone got excited about the helicopter! I remember Darren running up the lane with a big grin on his face.
TRF:Looking back on the incident, was there anything that you think went well or could have been done differently? Any lessons we can learn from your accident?
Ben:I remember the pilot saying how easily they had found us because we were able to give the precise location, and that he felt the OS grid ref was best as there is room for confusion with lat/long coordinates. Even if you ride without a GPS there are various apps which will give you a precise OS ref, so I’d suggest everyone gets one of those, like the “OS Locate” app. One other thing I think would be sensible is to have a list of emergency contacts for these more informal, but still organised, trips. Details could easily be shared via Facebook messenger in advance, or just given to one particular person. Had it been more serious for me it could have taken days for my wife and family to find out.
TRF:So, is that you off riding for a while?
Ben:Yes, for a while. I was hoping to do the mini-mondo in Spain in September but the doctors think that’s unlikely, plus I’ll be out of the Cambridgeshire TRF Dawn 2 Dusk event. But I can use the time to put more shiny bits on the bike I suppose!
TRF:Thanks Ben, get well soon!