It sounds so much better in French. Maybe more glamorous because that’s what the foreign TV commentators say during the cycle racing coverage. Like the professionals I had a “chute”, rather than “I fell off”. Chute also sounds like one of the English words that I might have used when I was lying on the ground yesterday morning after I hit a road defect fast enough for it to knock me off.

It was one of those classic falls. The bump was so hard it bounced my hands off the bars and I still had time to take in the event it as I lost control, hit the road and slid.

I am really annoyed about this one because I feel like I rode down a hill and hit a pothole I haven’t got. Despite riding this route to work many times I have absolutely no recollection of there being a pothole at that point. British comedian Jasper Carrot used to do a comic sketch where he read out silly car insurance claims. One man apparently told the insurance company “I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I haven’t got” and for some stupid reason that was one of the thoughts in my head after the crash.*

Ironically I had just taken one hand off the handlebars to switch my light from flashing mode to steady beam because I wanted to be able to see the poor road surfaces on the next section through the forest. I am not sure if was off my normal trajectory, it is all a bit of a blur now. Given the state of those Belgian country roads I suspect I may have become a bit complacent because there are holes all over the place and I have got used to them. This was the earliest I have been out for a while too, it was a good twenty minutes before sunrise and I was relying on lights.

I first wrote about falling off way back in just my 10th post on this blog.

Back then I commented that there are very different attitudes to crashing among cycling’s tribes. Mountain bikers and road racers pretty much regard it as an occupational hazard while fortunately many commuters never experience a fall due to the terrain or other riders.

However my brother summed it up nicely this weekend when we were talking about mountain bike falls. He said “it just isn’t the same. I don’t seem to bounce any more and it takes longer to recover.” That is most certainly true, I feel like that even if I trip on a step while walking.

It also noticeably affects what I call “the audit”. It’s the process you go through while you are still on the ground when it starts to hurt. As I ran my mental eye over my body I was thinking “oh no, not the shoulder, that still aches from last time, and that was five years ago. Ouch, skinned knee, that’s two weeks of healing….”

What I definitely don’t do any more is leap up and go “how’s my bike?” which I might have done a few years ago.

At first this audit told me that I might be in trouble because the shoulder took the full brunt of the fall at about 30kmph.  After wandering about for a few minutes I decided nothing was serious and that the only way out was to ride somewhere and under the circumstances Brussels seemed as good an option as any, I could clean up and hand over my work tasks for the day even if things were not too comfortable. I must apologise to one or two very disturbed looking fellow cyclists and even the odd driver who suspected I wasn’t testing a Halloween costume as I dripped blood through the suburbs.

The ride took about an hour (pure adrenaline I suspect) and after “clean up” at the office and a shower I thought I might be able to get through the morning but by lunchtime I was off for my first taste of Belgian emergency medicine because aches started to emerge in all sorts of places.

As a Brit I avoid A&E if at all possible, those endless hours waiting in unpleasant surrounds really have no appeal but I had reasonable hopes that the well regarded Belgian health services could do better. Best of all was that the Belgian doctor was so apologetic for my wait, that never happened to me in the UK. Lots of dressings, three stitches in the knee and fortunately no breaks on the X-rays. 3-5 days enforced rest.

Worst – boy do I ache. You are right bruv, we just don’t bounce the same way anymore.

But worse might be in store. As I crawled stiffly to bed last night Mrs Idonotdespair hinted at what she thought about me cycling for an hour and then staying at work for four hours before going to hospital. “At some point I am going to be really mad at you” I was told.

Now that could be really painful.


*To cheer me up, here’s the classic Jasper Carrot Sketch on YouTube.

8 thoughts on “Chute

  1. It is strangely comforting to realise that my first reaction is still ‘how’s my bike?’, but I must admit that I don’t bounce as much any more. I still have a bruised patch on my hip from a ‘chute’ that happened in the first days of the year. As for the knee, I seem to scrape the same spot every time, so that scar is never going away, I presume… And yes, the Belgian health system is fantastic. Heal up soon, Kevin.


    • Funnily enough my doctor seemed a bit surprised when I told him that I didn’t really have a problem with stitches because last time it was 10, not three.

      Then he said “where” and I said “the same place” and he clearly concluded I was mad.

      Knees as patchwork – must be something for a blog post at some time.


  2. Get well soon!

    I find it’s usually elbows and knees but I agree with your brother – bumps and bruises now take far longer.

    But … No need gratuitously to diss the NHS! Adds nothing to your lovely piece yet helps perpetuate a myth.


    • Ok, guilty, it does read a bit like that. As I was discussing with the Belgian nurse at the hospital I am a big fan of the NHS. I would just like to see it funded as well as the Belgian system.

      We both agreed that anything would be better than the US.


    • Straightened up the handlebars and brake at the time and rode it in to work where it has been stored in the basement.

      A full inspection has yet to take place but I think the front of the brake levers took the brunt of the skid, the plastic front of the hoods is worn back and rough. This is a probably a good thing, I was thinking that the bike didn’t look distressed enough to deter thieves!

      Thanks for the good wishes



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