“Viewer Discretion Advised”, as our colonial cousins might say.
I’ve had some footage from the CCTV camera at the Badgers at Petworth that show the crash that killed me for a short time and led to some permanent, “life-changing” injuries for quite a while. I first received it during my legal action against the driver of the Yaris which was eventually settled last year, but them he seemed to develop some whiplash injury and decided to sue me after hanging on to some Doctor’s report for a couple of years.
That’s now settled too, so I thought I’d upload the video so the more mawkish amongst you could see it.
OK, maybe not that slight then: the police and the press referred to my SMIDSY* crash injuries as being “life-changing” and the Sprint GT is unlikely to see the late of day again, sadly.
So what happened?
Well on Sunday 7th July 2019, I had tickets to go to the Goodwood Festival of Speed and despite it raining hard when I woke up, as I had a ticket for a mate (whose partner had bought her own one) I decided to go anyway. Â The day was OK and brightened up a bit later and we decided to head home around 4.00pm. As we were on bikes – my Sprint and Yox’s R1200GSA – we knew we could filter past all the cars trying to leave at the same time. I needed petrol so added a petrol stop 10 miles down my route home and off we went. Â I wasn’t in a rush as Alison was due to go out with a friend for meal and to see “Magic Mike XXL Live” and the roads although mainly dry still had some damp spots under the trees.
And that’s when it all went wrong: as I was filtering past some traffic next to The Badgers at Petworth on the A285, a young guy in a Toyota Yaris decided to either turn into the pub or do a U-turn without signalling or waiting for me to pass. Â I had no chance of stopping in time to avoid the collision, so down I went – clearly I’d not been going fast or I’d have flown over the bonnet/roof rather than (as it transpired) going down the side of his car before being run over by the same car! Â According to the police, the pub’s CCTV has the whole crash on video; I really want to see it to understand how I ended up getting run over (I even had tyre marks on my stomach).
So yes, the injuries are serious. Â Two doctors driving along stopped and immediately called the Air Ambulance to come and get me (which is when I came to, just as they were loading me into it to fly me to Brighton.
At Brighton, they assessed my injuries and decided they couldn’t deal with them all there and I needed to be transferred to a dedicated trauma hospital, St George’s at Tooting. What they did first was try to stabilise my hand injuries: the crash had “de-gloved” my left hand ring finger and little finger, stripping off the skin and flesh around the bones whilst still inside my gloves. They also had to cut off my wedding ring which was a tad painful…
So a late night ‘blues and twos’ ambulance transfer it was to St George’s.
The following day I had 12 hours of surgery on my hand to try to rebuild the fingers including grafts of flesh, tendons and veins from my forearm.
A week of treatment with leeches followed to try to encourage the fingers to ‘take’ but sadly it was not to be so on the 15th July whilst finally having surgery to pin my broken pelvis, they amputated my ring finger and the top of my little finger and to pin my left hand.
In the meantime, I’d also had my jaw pinned and plated as it had been broken in three places. Â They’d also put a load of orthodontic metalwork in to line the teeth up again.
After a week in intensive care drugged up to my eyeballs on morphine, I was released onto a ward where I started receiving physiotherapy to get me up onto a frame, then crutches for me to try climbing stairs on one leg (the other being non-weight bearing as that’s the badly broken side of the pelvis).
On Friday 2nd August, I was allowed to go home as I’d mastered (ish) stairs and I’m now going backwards and forwards to St George’s for ongoing checks, X-rays and procedures and hoping to start physiotherapy next week whilst still trying to do a little bit of work when I can.
I still can’t walk, I may still have to have my little finger amputated and i may need to have my jaw re-broken and plated to line it up properly. Nice…
According to my discharge summary, my injuries are as follows:
bilateral mandible fractures
displaced right thyroid cartilage (fractured larynx)
comminuted fracture of right inferior and superior pubic rami (pelvis)
left sacral fracture with left extension and resultant diasthasis
C6 & C7 spinous process (neck/spine)
left L4 & L5 transverse process fractures (lower back/spine)
left little finger broken and partial amputation
left ring finger broken and largely amputated
left hand fourth and fifth metacarpals broken
In addition to this, I have BPPV that will need to be sorted – my temple was badly bruised as it was under my right ear.
Anyway, here are some cool X-rays and 3D scans that show my now-displaced jaw and the metalwork in my pelvis that may need to be removed:
So now I have to recuperate as much as I can – I can’t grow new fingers – and I need to buy new bike gear to replace all my stuff that was either trashed or cut off me.
The Sprint looks too badly damaged to be economically repaired so it looks like I’ll be buying a Tiger 1200 next year after all.
* SMIDSY: Â “Sorry Mate, I Didn’t See You” often spoken after a car drive who didn’t look knocks a motorcyclist off their motorcycle.
So today it’s five years since the Death Star – as it’s been called – came home.
I celebrated by taking it to get its MoT done – another pass – along with an annual service at Jack Lilley Romford.
It has now covered 9,484 miles (2017 6,954 miles and 2016 5,516 miles).
I test rode the new Tiger 1200 XRt at the same time. Good power, much more upright riding position and all of the toys, including cruise control and heated rider and passenger seats as well as automagic suspension adjustment. On the minus side, after not too long riding it, I had a numb bum so how it would cope with a Eurothrash, I didn’t know. Oh and the small matter of it costing Â£17,800 with panniers and top box! Ouch! Remember that the Sprint GT was only Â£8,500 (Â£9,500 today with inflation).
So I’m hoping that with the bar risers fitted, the Death Star might have a few years’ life left in it yet. I’ll find out tomorrow when I’m planning a blast around Kent and East Sussex.
Well Eurothrash was upon us once again and this time it was decided that we – me, Yox and Purge again – would head once more to the Pyrenees. Yox as usual was charged with sorting out routes and he did us proud again:
Eurothrash 2017: the Route
So after work on the Friday, I headed down to Portsmouth to meet up with the two of them for a pint of two at a nearby pub before boarding the overnight ferry to Caen. The weather forecast was a bit dodgy but it didn’t really rain until it was time for boarding.
Once on board, the drinking theme continued, despite our knowing that the forecast was not particularly good:
“Let me explain…”
After a couple of hours’ kip in our compact and bijou 4-berth cabin, we got up, had coffee and a croissant and ventured out into the light rain; I didn’t bother to put on my waterproof oversuit as I thought I’d leave it to the “waterproof” Triumph Taloc leathers, Alpinestars Gore-Tex boots and Rukka Gore-Tex gloves to sort things out, which they did. At one point during the day it got a little nippy, so at one fuel stop, I grabbed my Keis heated vest and plugged it in as well as turning on the heated grips and was toasty-warm!
After 500 miles or so, we got separated near to our first stop at Lurbe-Saint-Christau and I followed the Garmin to our hotel, the Au Bon Coin which, from the outside and being in the middle of nowhere, didn’t look like much. Inside, however, it was comfortable and our dinner – after a couple of beers – was really tasty.
Time for beer!
After breakfast on Day Two, we set off for Spain and the Hotel Cotori in El Pont de Suert where we’d stayed in 2013. Â This really is a fabulous hotel and one I’d stay in again and again.
En route, we stopped off for some coffee as Yox had brought his coffee-making kit with him, so we did some off-roading (!) to ride down to a river – well, excluding Purge who refused to take the ZZR1400 down the gravel embankment – only to find that there was a disaster! Yox’s cafetiÃ¨re had smashed! So we ended up sieving the coffee through a tea towel to allow us to have the elixir of life before finishing our ride.
And here’s some video of Yox and I getting up the slope:
150-ish miles later and we arrived in the main square outside the Hotel Cotori where they were setting up for “La Nit del Foc” or the “Night of Fire” with wooden torches in all shapes and sizes everywhere. We weren’t sure whether it was actually a Wicker Man-style event for us, especially after the 19 beers that were consumed…
Day Three and we were heading to the Hotel Andria in Seo de Urgel, some 180 miles on our planned twisty routes. We stopped off at one point for some photos near Montferrer i CastellbÃ² in Catalonia and saw some eagles – you won’t be able to make them out, I doubt, from my photos.
By the time we reached the hotel after a very warm day in the saddle – 32Â°C – we were pleased that they let us park the bikes up in their courtyard. A quick shower and a few beers on the verandah and we headed off into town for food, including Yox’s mini-penises…
Day Four was planned to be a biggie: 230-ish miles of bends and twisties from Spain into France and then up into Andorra before our overnight stop at the Hotel President.
And the roads indeed proved epic with lots of hairpins, ascents and descents all day long. And our first brush with the law: after a ‘spirited’ ride up some hairpins, we got pulled over by the police near Naut Aran in Catalonia:
After our stop, we decided to pull over so our Extreme Barista could do his stuff, this time using just the filter from the broken cafetiÃ¨re to filter the coffee.
Once we’d had coffee, we set off again and later found that we could experience a number of different weather conditions within a very short space of time once we were back into the Haute-Garonne of France:
After negotiating the perilous car park ramps at the Hotel President, it was time for beers and their buffet deal in the restaurant. Yox and Purge had adjoining rooms which featured their own shared ante-room with sofas and TV!
Day Five was planned as another 160-ish miles back into Spain, along the N260 and then back into France for our next stop at Thuir, the Domaine de La Fauvelle.
A slightly cooler 31Â°C but lots of effort on the roads led to us needing beers when we arrived before we’d even changed. They told us the restaurant was usually shut that day but as another older lady was staying, they’d got the chef coming in especially and would we like to dine there? On the basis that we were on the outskirts of Thuir and couldn’t be arsed to walk into town we said yes and were lucky to do so as the food was simply superb. Purge had already claimed he was all cheesed out but still managed some, giving up the chance to try what he mis-translated as “fish sorbet”…
The mileage had begun to take its toll on us, so for Day Six, our planned route of 200 miles back into the twisties before heading to the idiosyncratic HÃ´tel Renaissance at Castres was only followed by Yox and me, with Purge taking the more direct route to Castres.
The roads were great fun, but as even Yox was taking it easy which was not what I wanted to do, needing a bit more speed to take the weight off my wrists, so I rode past and made my own way on the planned route, with Yox catching me when I stopped for a well-earned break in Couiza.
By the time we got to Castres and had settled into our rooms, Purge had already arrived much earlier and was sitting drinking in one of the bars in the square, where we then met up before finding a restaurant to eat: burgers with goats cheese (and then more cheese). After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a couple of beers/digestifs and then bed: we had a long day ahead of us planned…
The weather was a little changeable and on one country road in the rain, I got flashed by a hidden speed camera on a double-bend; we’ll see if the ticket reaches me. Purge reached the hotel 15 minutes or so before me and Yox a little while after as he’d stopped for photos on the way. A quick shower and then off for beers and a lovely meal in our own vaulted roofed booth.
Day Eight and we planned an earlier departure as we were all booked on mid-afternoon Eurotunnel crossings. As I was on a FlexiPlus fare I was more relaxed and we’d all planned our own strategies for the final 340-odd miles: I was planning a two-stop, Yox a one-stop and Purge a “pin it to win it” blast/stop/repeat run.
It was warm and dry, but the rain clouds were ever-present and you dodged the clouds as much as possible, with the odd heavy downpour and then bright, warm sunshine.
As it transpired, we all arrived at the terminal within minutes of each other. After enduring the long wait at UK Border Agency, we boarded separate trains and then I headed home.
Once home, it was a cuppa, a shower, a Chinese takeaway and then back out to collect my partner from her flight back from Fuerteventura (landing at 1.10am!) into Gatwick. No rest for the wicked!
A couple of weeks later and my numb index finger (throttle side) is only gradually easing. Maybe that could be avoided in future by my fitting bar risers? One to try…
So I’m happy to be able to report that all is well with the Sprint after an annual service and MoT at Jack Lilley at Romford: only 1,440 ,miles in the last year.
While it was in, they let me test drive a Triumph Tiger Explorer XRt for the day. Once I got used to armchair riding position, it seemed really comfortable although to reduce buffeting from the electrically-adjustable screen when making good progress, I needed it all the way up – I’m just under six feet tall.
Toys are impressive with cruise control and semi-active suspension and heated seats – there are two sections for the rider and pillion – which would be a boon for touring, but as will all these “Adventure” bikes it seems, hard luggage is an expensive extra. Spec’ing it up to a suitable specification brings its price to over Â£16,000 and there’s no way it’s worth my Sprint plus, what, nine or ten grand especially when the Sprint is performing faultlessly and is still low mileage (6,954).
The Sprint’s much nicer now since I had Michelin Pilot Road 4 (PR4) tyres fitted last year before the Brittany runÂ and the Triumph Taloc waterproof leathers work well, both in the sun – see last year’s Eurothrash – and in the rain when I had the Sprint serviced.
So with another girls’ weekend in Newquay ahead of Alison and none of my riding mates able to come with me if I went anywhere, I decided I’d head to a part of France I’d never visited before, so I thought I’d head to Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
I looked at the “Ride” magazine guide to France and some of their suggested routes around there and the Atlantic coast and booked a couple of other overnight stops at the end of a couple of routes, sight unseen.
I booked a Eurotunnel crossing with their Flexiplus fare so that I could be as pressure-free as possible on my way back with the longest leg of the tour. After a 4.30am start, I turned up in plenty of time and was waved straight through and onto a train waiting to leave. They even gave me my own personal carriage
The Sprint GT and an empty carriage
After around 560km I arrived at my hotel, having had to talk my way around one of the barriers stopping entry to the town without a code – which I had, thinking it was the code to the hotel’s own carpark (which they don’t have). Thanks to Accor’s loyalty plan, I’d been able to check in early so I spent the afternoon wandering around the actual Mont-Saint-Michel with its narrow streets and steps. Perfect for pushchairs, apparently…
I decided to walk back to the hotel as the queue for the bus was very long and after dinner came back out to take some more photos as night fell. Here are some photos:
My next stop was at Quimper. I’d found what was supposed to be a four star place to stay without really realising it was a campsite and that there weren’t really hotel-type rooms in the accepted sense in the Chateau itself. Worse than that was the 5.00pm check-in. I messaged them to see if I could check in earlier but hadn’t heard back before I set off so I enjoyed the lovely roads and stopped at Guingamp for coffee and lunch:
I checked my emails to find I could check in earlier after all, so off I went. I arrived around 4.00pm and checked-in at Reception, rode around to the chateau and couldn’t find any way to get in. After 45 minutes, i was lucky enough to find someone who could point me in the right direction, by which point I was a sodden, sweaty lump thanks to the hot day and a full set of leathers.
Still it was nice and ‘authentic’ and I did enjoy my time there:
Parked-up for the night
L’Orangerie de Lanniron
L’Orangerie de Lanniron
Check-out time was 10.00am so after breakfast I set out for St Nazaire on some more lovely roads, going via Quiberon, which meant filtering along through the traffic queues onto the peninsula. A nice stop for moules and a wave to America and I was back on the road.
I arrived at the Hotel Majestic La Baule and wandered off to take some photos and get a coffee and Coke … and a Cuba Libre.
The next morning after a lovely breakfast I waved goodbye and set off for home: a small matter of 770km.
The sun’s up and it’s time to leave
I made it to Calais in plenty of time and despite the “helpful” UK Border Agency making me remove my helmet – even thoughÂ he could clearly see my face – which slowed things up, I got on to an earlier train back (see my earlier comment about Flexiplus).
Home and a shower and a coffee and I was almost human after 2002km. I do like the Triumph Sprint GT 1050 and I also like my new leathers: Triumph “Taloc” leather jacket and jeans which are heat-reflective with zipped ventilation to help you keep cool and they’re also weather-resistant/waterproof supposedly. I only had a couple of light showers so no chance to really test that out, but there are inner liners to let the rain run out if it makes it through the leather.
I just realised that I hadn’t posted about last year’s Eurothrash to the Harz Mountains in Germany, so here we are now.
It was a quick blast there whilst my partner was sunning herself in Newquay with her friends. We’d booked to stay with Gregory Niven at his biker-friendly pension – Gregory rode a Kawasaki Versys by then – so Yox (on his Versys), Purge (on his Kawasaki ZZR1400) and I set off to Germany on a really hot day. The beers at Gregory’s place were welcome by the time we got there!
Dinner that first night – as all nights whilst we were there – was at the nearby Zum Belgier with their large selection of Schnitzel:
The next day we went off on a route that Gregory had laid out for us. A nasty front wheel slip on the Sprint ruined my confidence in the OEM Bridgestones, though:
This was what the front tyre looked like when we stopped:
This was us at our stop shortly afterwards:
That evening, a somewhat peckish Yox ordered a light snack:
So Yox is having a weiner schnitzel with Bolognese sauce (meat) AND an 8oz steak on the side. Just in case.
The next day it was off to Colditz. Except it was closed…
En route to Colditz
Still, we got some footage despite my lack of confidence in the tyres:
The next day it was wet; showers throughout the day but in between the rain we were taken for a blast out by Gregory:
And then the heavens opened. You can see from the footage that I was just not at all happy with the (lack of) grip from the front:
Then it was back home and after I’d switched back to miles and got home, I reckon it was a pathetic 400 miles of rain on the way home rather than the epic Pyrenees deluge…
This year’s Eurothrash took us from England to France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy and we almost ended up in Lichtenstein too! 2,361 miles in a week, with two rest days.
I mentioned in the last blog entry that I’d fettled the Sprint ready for the journey. As it turned out, we did a quick pack on the Friday night and found we could fill the two panniers and then put the 30 litre roll bag in the top case along with Alison’s heated inner jacket and our liners. Gloves and bits and bobs went into the Kriega US-20 strapped onto the tank.
And so it was that we were up at 3.00am to shower, pack and hit the road around 4.15am to meet up with Mark (Purge), Martin (Yox) and Josie at the Stop24 services on the M20 near the Eurotunnel at 5.30am. Despite horrific weather being forecast for the journey, the only wetness we saw was a bit of spray on the A2 out of London. Â We were first to arrive and grabbed coffee and croissants at the Shell garage. Yox and Josie arrived a few minutes later on his Kawasaki Versys and we then received a message from Purge saying he’d woken up to torrential rain and would get a later crossing and meet us there!
Early start at Eurotunnel
I reset my dials and the satnav to kilometres for the rest of the trip to make it easier to work out fuel and rest stops.
Once boarded, we were told there would be a delay due to a train fault in the tunnel, so we were around 45 minutes late getting off in France. These delays continued and worsened, apparently, so that Purge had to wait hours for an eventual 1.50pm crossing and a blast down by Autoroutes to join us in Germany for our first night.
On the way down through France, we stopped off near Reims to stretch our legs at the old Formula One pit buildings of the Reims-Gueux Circuit:
Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings
Reims Grand Prix Pit Buildings
We finally reached theÂ Hotel-Landgasthof Hirsch in Neu-Ulm (mid-way between Stuttgart and Munich) at tea-time, so we showered and changed and hit the beers before dinner. Purge joined us around 9.30pm.
After a really nice breakfast on the Sunday morning we set off for Austria despite a light shower at one point, though nothing like what was forecast. Germany meant Autobahns so on one section I decided to wind the Sprint open and we hit 147mph – two-up and fully laden, don’t forget – before I backed it off down to 100mph. I wonder how fast it would have gone (especially solo and without all the gear)…
A coffee and a Snickers as we approached Austria and we were on our way.
Into Austria and we headed down to Hall in Tirol and the Gasthof Badl. Â Purge and Yox had stayed there before, but I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest. I was grateful to be proven completely wrong: a well-presented and large double room with a huge and very modern bathroom and a balcony with a wonderful view of the Alps.
Gasthof Badl (by Purge)
Gasthof Badl and Bikes
The view from our balcony
A shower and off we went into the old town to a restaurant in the castle for the largest Weiner Schnitzel you could imagine (pork, not veal, of course).
That was our restaurant for the evening
After a huge breakfast on Monday morning, we set off into the Alps to visit the Grossglockner glacier. Some great twisty roads and stunning views on our way, too.
Grinning at the Grossglockner Glacier
It had been very cold on one of the earlier passes, enough for me to switch on my heated grips and for Alison to plug in her heated inner jacket which kept her toasty warm.
Tuesday was supposed to be wet, so we planned our rest day. It wasn’t at all wet as we walked into town for coffees and then back to the hotel for beers before dinner.
Wednesday and we headed into Italy and Switzerland for the Jaufenpass and Stelvio Pass. Very impressive passes both, if a little cold as we passed through the snowline up to Stelvio for big hotdogs and wine just as the snow began falling. Epic twisty roads too after the light dusting dried out in the warm summer sun…
Stelvio Pass (photo by Yox)
Stelvio Scoff (thanks Purge)
Jaufenpass (photo by Yox)
Sprint and Stelvio
Sprint and Stelvio
The Hills Are Alive
Thursday was Josie’s 50th birthday. Our plan for the day was to head to the Kehlsteinhaus or Eagle’s Nest, which was given to Hitler for his 50th birthday (which was ironic as he had a fear of heights…). Yet more stunning scenery and very twisty roads on our way to the visitor centre. On arrival in the car park, the rain started falling heavily for around 10 minutes so we stood in our waterproofs before it stopped and we boarded the truly scary convoy of buses to take us up to the retreat itself, where we stopped for lunch and the views.
Lunch at the Eagle’s Nest
Celebratory fizz and birthday cake back at the hotel before heading up to bed.
Friday was another rest day with one or two light showers but after two days in the mountains on hairpin bends, we could all do with the rest!
Espressos and Iced Tea
Breakfast on Saturday morning was massive as usual. We then checked out – why was our bar bill so excessive again? Oops! – then it was off to Mulhouse. Purge wasn’t quite ready when we were going to head off and said he was going to go the quicker rather than the scenic route, so Yox and I headed off. A fab journey it was too through Austria and Germany (the Black Forest, mainly). We stopped at one point in Germany at Schluchsee in the mid-afternoon for drinks and ice creams by the huge lake. Purge had already reached Mulhouse and was sitting by the pool drinking beers (as per).
It’s tough, this travelling
Sprint at the Schluchsee
We rolled into Mulhouse after another day of scenery, hairpins and hot sun and ate outside by the pool at the Golden Tulip Mulhouse Basel at Sausheim.
Sunday morning and it was up early for breakfast before heading out for our long journey back. Purge opted for the “splash and dash” whereas we opted for more Alpine scenery and a less frenetic if longer route, with me leading us into the Eurotunnel in plenty of time for the ridiculously long (and hot) wait for the UK Border Agency to let us onto the trains. Our border control is frankly pathetic compared with every other country I travel to. Such long delays coming back home.
Once back in the UK, Alison and I waved Yox and Josie off and we stopped to eat and refuel before heading home mid-evening, 2,361 miles down:
And finally, a little bit of video:
Planning for next year’s Eurothrash has already started: maybe the Italian Riviera? Accessed via Bilbao and Northern Spain, Andorra and the French Riviera?
Well this year’s Eurothrash to Austria is now getting closer so I’m making final arrangements for kit and making sure the Sprint is ready to rock.
The wiring issues were swiftly resolved by Jack LilleyÂ - who I was very impressed with and will now be using for all my Triumph servicing, etc. – as they found that the blowing fuse was actually a problem with the accessory lead I’d bought a while back and the lack of power to the topbox was indeed down to Metropolis Motorcycles completely failing to fit the additional wiring harness when they prepped the Sprint for me when I bought it.
Ali now has heated gloves and a heated inner jacket from KeisÂ - very good gear, it must be said – although I’m slightly disappointed that the gloves can’t be powered from the jacket if the heavy duty temperature controller for the jacket is fitted. No idea why, either. Obviously when we pack these, it will ensure that the Austrian Tyrol remains at tropical temperatures whilst we are there…
I’ve also sourced some new straps for the Kriega luggage I used for theÂ Pyrenees EurothrashÂ last year so that I can strap a US-10 or US-20Â to the tank. I need to see which one will work best with the Garmin and the other controls.
I also got hold of a 30 litre waterproof rollbag from Givi that can be strapped onto the Sprint’s topbox with some nifty ROK straps if we need the extra luggage capacity over the 117 litres we already have in the topbox and panniers.
So I think at the weekend, we’ll have a rehearsal to see how much stuff we can pack, where and how, and see if we do need to think about using the rollbag and the US-20 after all. I want to avoid wearing a rucksack if possible. Last year I had 20+10+10+35=75 litres and that was more than ample for me.
As for entertainment, well the new GarminÂ links to my iPod that’s now under the seat our intercom seems to work well, although we haven’t tried connecting to Yox’s or Purge’s headsets yet for bike to bike stuff.
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