Today, myself and good friend Marc and Matt took to the roads on what was due to be a 3 or 4 hour café ride up to Ashdown Forest and back. The weather was dull and grey, but dry, and it was good to get out with friends, to catch up, to chat, to ride.
20 minutes into our route we met with an incident, Marc and Matt riding up front, two abreast with myself following, heading north on Station Road from Berwick. Between us we have over 60 years of cycling experience, safe and assertive, aware and considerate of other road users.
Station Road is a long and fairly straight B -road which crosses the railway tracks at Berwick train Station and continues on to Upper Dicker and Golden Cross. As we passed the entrance to the reservoir and continued up the hill a 4×4 motor vehicle towing a large horse box trailer suddenly appeared next to us, the vehicle was fag paper close and travelling at speed. The vehicle must have straddled across the center of the road as it suddenly made a sharp maneuver, to avoid an oncoming collision with another vehicle, steering into Matt who was struck about midway along the trailer sending him shuddering out of control into Marc…
It’s such a blur, it was so quick. I had managed to maintain control but Matt had hit the tarmac hard on his right side, his head just inches away from the wheels of the trailer, with Marc tangled in Matt’s bike striking his head as they both finally came to a halt in a crumpled mess on the floor.
The driver of the 4×4 with trailer did not stop and by the time we had realised it was too late to catch his vehicle registration or have the wherewithal to take a photograph. The driver of the oncoming vehicle had stopped, though he was edgy and unresponsive and soon left the scene mumbling about “not being able to do anything to help”, and it was left to a couple in a Silver BMW, who had witness the incident, to check that we were all OK and direct the traffic – thoughtful, responsible, caring citizens.
Ambulances soon arrived and a police car and officer to take statements and begin inquiries. Matt and Marc were taken to hospital locally, Marc with concussion and a minor ‘brain injury’ and Matt with an incredibly painful broken collar bone. Walking wounded perhaps but the thought that this could have been so much worse will not leave my thoughts.
The inconsiderate, dangerous action and callous indifference for the lives, health and well being of others, exhibited by that driver is too much for me to even contemplate, I don’t have the words to describe the way I am feeling at this present time. With this in mind, I am sure you will understand, I am cancelling the Winter Solstice 100 ride – the risk, I feel, is far greater than any rewards.
3 lives and countless others attached to us; children, partners and friends, have been affected in a way that is indefinable. No one died, but physical pain and injury has been inflicted and confidence has, for now, been lost.
Both Matt and Marc are now recovering at home.
We are human and we break so easily.