On December 13th 2015, I travelled to Antur Stiniog to take part in a charity fundraising day for Wales Air Ambulance. This was with a few friends, and we were looking forward to meeting fellow mtbers wearing fancy dress, raising money by riding the trails and taking part in the events of the day.
The weather was typically Welsh and wet. We got ready, feeling a bit tired from the travelling but we had come a long way for this; costumes and armour on, we took a few photos before we headed up on the 1st uplift.
The 1st run was always a bit of a warmup and we followed each other down, enjoying the berms, jumps and drop offs . We loaded our bikes straight back on the uplift bus at the bottom and headed back up the mountain.
The 2nd run was eventful for me, a quarter of the way down my left pedal body became loose and fell off and I stopped mid run. There was nothing I could do up there in the pouring rain, so I rode the rest of the way down with my foot on the axle body and the rest of the pedal in my pocket.
At the bottom I rode over to the centre to see if I could get my pedal repaired, or even borrow some for the rest of the day. The lads at the centre came to my aid, one of the guys took me over to the repair shed to see what he could do. After 20 mins or so and with the pedal threadlocked, the smile on my face returned and I headed back up to the uplift bus with the guys.
On the bus was Danny Hart himself, hardly recognised him at first because we were all wet, soggy and looking the same. As we set off at the top the rain was getting heavier, we spotted the photographer taking snaps of the all the riders and with renewed spirit I went for it at the top, got a bit of speed up and threw a cheeky little whip in front of him, hoping I could get a good shot for later as a memento of the day.
: Taken by Dan Struthers on the Wales Air Ambulance fundraising day.
The run started good, I was beginning to relax, loosen up a bit and get a bit more speed through the berms and features. We all stopped at the bridge ¾ of the way down, as we hadn’t agreed which run to finish on. We agreed to take the black option around the steep rock drop off and go for the jump section. We were getting soaked and I decided to go in front.
I set off with a few cranks and took the loose corner to the first drop of around 4ft. As I rounded the corner at speed, I noticed the track had washed out a bit with the rain and it had formed a bit of a groove in the surface. I kept the bike to the right of it as I pressed the bike forward for the drop off and that’s when it happened.
At the worst possible moment the front wheel slipped into the groove. I could do nothing, the bike went to the left and I was airborne to the right. The impact on the rock will haunt me forever, the crunch of my collarbone and the sudden pain hit me like a sledgehammer. I crumpled to the trail floor in a heap and screamed in pain, I was laid on my back facing upward into the downpour of rain which was lashing my face, I felt nothing but the worst pain I think I have ever had.
I knew I had broken my collarbone straight away but was unsure what other damage I had done as the pain was so intense. I knew instinctively not to try and get up straight away, and tried to lift my right arm – no go. It wouldn’t do as it was told so I thought I had taken my shoulder out as well. That was it I thought, I needed help.
Paul was following behind me and luckily had managed to stop in time to prevent taking the drop off and landing on me, he made sure no-one else would come round the blind corner then came rushing over.
Bit hazy from there to be honest as my head had also hit the rock, my D3 had done its job.
I was conscious all the way through, I remember coats being put on me and people with brollies trying to keep the rain off and I remember going very cold. This was probably the shock setting in but apparently the rain was running in a channel under my backside also. I asked if the bike was ok as was customary, built like a tank them Hecklers – not a scratch was the comment back .
Can’t remember how long it was, but eventually a survival tent appeared over me. Some of the lads got in too as it was belting down still and I started to warm up in no time, brilliant bits of kit they are. The guys pulled the edges in tight as apparently the Air Ambulance was on its way, and would be creating a hurricane force downdraught from above.
The photo above shows the rock I hit, on the right.
Somewhere along the line I was offered gas and air for the pain, I assume a Paramedic had arrived as I was then asked a barrage of questions, Name, address, home phone numbers etc…
Apparently the Helicopter wasn’t coming now for some reason, I think they had decided to try and get me to an Ambulance by stretcher. I was given morphine along with the gas and air and very carefully placed onto a stretcher and secured tight. I was then carried down the trail to an awaiting ambulance. By the time we had got to the ambulance I was freezing cold and shaking uncontrollably, the Ambulance guys had to cut through all my expensive body armour, tops and brand new waterproof coat, the helmet was removed carefully then I was wrapped into some kind of thermal suit and secured tight for the slow journey to Bangor Hospital.
The journey took ages – about 2 hours approx, a mix of morphine, gas and air and about 6 shouts of “just another 20 minutes”.
Upon arrival at A&E the Xrays confirmed the broken collarbone and luckily for me it was a clean break.
I was then moved onto a ward with loads of painkillers and Oramorph on tap, hazily thinking I had got off lightly. Little did I know, that the numbness in my right arm was to cause life changing problems, starting with an 8 day spell in hospital.
To be continued……….: By Andy Robinson