Long bike rides, broken limbs and raising money for charity

On Sunday 20th July 2014, two of my friends completed l’Ètape du Tour in France riding 148Km in distance and climbing over 4,000m in some of the harshest weather conditions possible… and in the process, helped to raise over £1,100 for the charity Sparks.

Jon & Al successfully completing l'Ètape du Tour
Jon & Al successfully completing l’Ètape du Tour

Bad news

However, the sad news, for me anyway, is that I was supposed to ride l’Ètape with them but unfortunately, whilst riding the Dunwich Dynamo the week previously, I completely misjudged a very wet, very tight dark corner and ended up with a very broken wrist (or a comminuted intra articular fracture of the distal radius as the doctor called it). The doctors in A&E likened the injury to an egg being broken – I guess when you’re cycling at 20 miles an hour and hit the tarmac your bones can and will shatter.

A close-up of the break - 20 minutes after it happened.
A close-up of the break – 20 minutes after it happened.
The emergency cast put on my wrist after snapping it back into place on the night
The emergency cast put on my wrist after snapping it back into place on the night
Post-operation - wearing an external fixator on my arm
Post-operation – wearing an external fixator on my arm

This fracture and subsequent 3.5 days in hospital left me unable to ride the race or even go on the ten day holiday that we had booked surrounding the ride and the rest of the Tour de France. I know, I know, boo hoo, woe is me.

I’d spent the last seven months training (relatively) hard for the hardest bike ride of my life. Getting up early on weekends, struggling through climbs in the Peak District and up and down Holme Moss and Snake Pass more times than I’d care to mention and frankly, I’d hated almost every minute of it. It was hard but I was determined to complete l’Ètape and with a week to go I felt that all the training had paid off and although I was still terrified of riding up the fearsome Col du Tourmalet – I felt I was capable of doing it.


I had very much intended to return from France and use a blog post along with some emails to my clients to increase donations to our cause, but as I did not participate with the ride that blog post has become this one and those client emails never got sent. That is the biggest disappointment – we raised just over £1,100 but we could have raised a lot more if I’d have simply been more cautious.


Another downside, is the fact that I am scheduled to relocate on the 1st August to Cheltenham which with a broken wrist is going to be very difficult. However, thanks to very kind friends and family we’ve got a lot of help with the physical process of moving (picking up and moving boxes) – unfortunately I am still capable of packing boxes.

Some positive news

The good news, is that the break was severe enough to warrant an external fixator—as opposed to a plaster cast—so ten days after my operation I am able to type this blog post and bar a very heavy load of external metal work on my arm and the occasional ache and sharp pain I’m doing pretty well. I expect to be fully back to work again this time next week.

Injury details

The fixator (pictured above) will stay on for 6 weeks total and apparently gets unscrewed from my arm with no anaesthetic (don’t worry, it won’t hurt). It’s pretty heavy but it looks worse than it is. Surprisingly the whole injury has not hurt much at all. The initial break was painless (but did turn into a dull ache as I waited an hour for the ambulance to arrive). Then, when they snapped the joint/bones back into place I was given a pain-killing injection along with gas and air so I didn’t feel that either. The operation – which gave me an incredibly bruised left arm didn’t leave any real residual pain either so while I feel annoyed with myself that I crashed my bike and missed my trip I feel very fortunate with how lucky I’ve been!

And finally…

If you enjoyed reading this post, please consider donating to our charity page – it’ll make me feel a whole lot better about not completing the race:

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