My boss broke her elbow skiing in the early, unstable-snow part of the ski season. That’s cool! Having a boss who will aim high and ‘wear the plaster cast of failure’ is ‘leading by example’ in my books. Of course, I’ve been there and done that. My broken bones to date, and in chronological order are as follows:
Broken Collarbone – This was done at school and playing piggy-back racing games. I was the ‘pilot’, and I relied on my mount to not slip on some spilt milk. But he did and we both went down. My bicycle was in the school bike sheds at the time and 1 couldn’t ride it for 3 months. Rod Stewart was number 1 in the single charts with ‘Maggie May’. I didn’t understand what the song was about or care. I was 9 years old.
Broken arm number 1 – I’m cycling to school on my ‘training fixie’, tie blowing in the wind like a pilots silk scarf (not…), and toe straps pulled tight around my feet. 3 girls, also going to the same school are engrossed in conversation (pre-smartphone days) and they decide to cross the road immediately, and without looking for a silent, no-noisy-engine cyclist. I hit them. I’m not wearing a helmet, so naturally put my arm out to break the fall. It does the job, but breaks my forearm. I get 3 months in a plaster cast in the hottest summer on record, in decades – 1976. Abba were at number 1 in the singles charts with ‘Dancing Queen’. I got lots of comments and signatures on my plain white plaster cast. The big disaster was that I wasn’t able to cycle to York Rally in my plaster cast for the big annual cycling event. The bonus was that I couldn’t do any violin playing and looking back, the arm break signified the end of my potential classical violin playing career. This was fine, because Abba didn’t have anyone playing violin in their band anyway. I was 14 years old.
Broken arm number 2 – Firstly, its the same arm as break 1. Secondly, Pink was number 1 in the singles charts with ‘just like a pill’, but I was listening to Oasis. I’m cycling up the side of a Welsh mountain with a friend. We are on mountain bikes and I am riding my fabulous (in my view) Cannondale Super V. I start a new job in 2 weeks time and my friend is a self-employed, and very good, cabinet maker. It’s 7pm and we cycle up, to come down again. We are talking about stuff, and one of the conversation pieces of stuff, is the implications of one of us falling and breaking something bodily and not ‘bikely’. We conclude that I would get by in my new desk job and he would be f***ed! and with no way of feeding his growing family.
Its a glorious evening. We ride down the grassy mountain side together, flicking up fresh sheep shit from our tyres. We’ve done this many times before. I take a big jump, and really badly. I gain altitude really quickly. However, what goes up, usually comes down, and naturally, both bike and I do exactly that. I have the best quality helmet on that money can buy at the time, but I still put out my left arm to break the fall. Bad move. The arm didn’t slow down the impact. The helmet did, and with a cracking noise. I sit up on the grass, in the sheep shit, whatever, and I can feel lose stuff in my left forearm. My friend cycles back to me, marvelling at how high I went. Great!
I phone base camp (home) from my mobile, which wasn’t crushed like my helmet in the fall, and explain to my wife, that when we re-locate the family to the other side of the country in two weeks time, there may be some inconvenience. She and the kids pick me and the bike up in the car, and off we go to hospital. My friend cycles home to make great wooden things. I get ‘plated and screwed and plastered’, literally, but this time I get the choice of a colour for the plaster cast. I go for red. In two weeks, the cast is cut off, the stitches come out and another cast goes on and I get another colour choice for the second plaster cast. I go for purple. We move house. I ‘get by in my new desk job’ and all is fine, except that Westlife are Number 1 in the singles charts with an aptly named song in my view, ‘ Unbearable’. I’m 40 years old and the top mountain bike video, Sprung 5 is on repeat, cos’ its ace! I have a great scar on my left forearm.
It isn’t big or clever to break bones, helmets, rip jerseys etc, but it is part of the journey. However, it is ok to fail sometimes if you are aiming really high!
Last photo by Andy Morgan
All other photos by the author