Another inspirational older piece that has been moved from a different section of the original website to be included here. Again, apologies that the images have been lost along the way.
On Wednesday 31 st August 2005 I was stood hugging my mum, both of us in floods of tears. I had just finished 14th (out of 77 competitors) the Manx Grand Prix Junior Classic race in the Isle of Man. The finishing position wasn’t important. It was the fact that five years earlier I had been lying in an intensive care unit, fighting for my life, not two miles away after crashing heavily in the TT Races.
After four days of unconsciousness, I awoke to see a multitude of tubes and pipes running in and out of my body.
“Hmm” I thought. This looks pretty serious”.
A member of the intensive care staff told me that I had been in an accident (not a total surprise!) He explained that I had lost my left leg, below the knee. A difficult fact to believe as I could still feel it!
Despite the loss of limb; bruised brain; swollen lung; smashed right leg and ankle; broken left femur; broken fingers and general bodily bruising, I felt incredibly lucky to be alive.
I believe that this positive approach helped me to accept my situation and get on with life, despite the three years of intense rehabilitation that lay ahead. Despite my injuries, I never doubted that I would ride a motorcycle again. In fact, a fortnight after my accident, an amputee Occupational Therapist visited me. I asked if she wouldn’t mind raising my hospital bed, using her artificial leg. She duly did and asked if it was better. I had to confess that I just wanted to see if I would be able to pump up my tyres on the bike with a prosthesis! I was determined to lead as normal life as possible.
During my rehabilitation, it was very important for me to regain chunks of my life (and lifestyle) that existed prior to my accident. Previously, I had played in a small squash league and I remember my first game back being tremendously satisfying, even if I did have to leave the court on a walking stick in search of painkillers.
Initially, I returned to riding a motorcycle on the road, then racing on short circuits again. More chunks back! However, this was all leading one way – a desire to compete on the TT Course on the Isle of Man again.
I felt that if I did not ride there again, then there would be unfinished business and that the circuit had beaten me. So, after regaining my National competition licence and developing a prosthetic leg that would allow me to ride comfortably on my race bike, I made my race return to the TT course in 2005.
On my first lap of practice I approached the corner where my accident occurred five years previously. With an intake of breath I rode through it (thankfully) without incident. Then, as I approached the corner on the second lap, there was a slower rider in front. I dived past him on the inside, thinking to myself, “I’m over this!” It was a terrific feeling, only superseded by completing the race a few days later. The sense of relief, accomplishment and satisfaction after the race was absolutely overwhelming. Hence my emotional state with my mum afterwards.
Prior to going to the Isle of Man I would ride my bike around corners on the road, often thinking, “Ooh, that corner was like such and such corner on the TT course”. Since coming back it has not reoccurred. Its like I have got it out of my system and put the ghosts to rest. Mission accomplished. I feel that with this final chunk of my life firmly back in place, that I can move on to new challenges.
(This feature has been reproduced with the permission of Scott Richardson and Chas. A. Blatchfords.)