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Arlo : How It All Began (Part 1)
Diary entry posted Mon 8:04am 10 October 2005

I will start this diary off to explain how I came to break my leg. It is the most ironic of circumstances.

I've been driving cars for nearly 20 years and riding motorcycles for nearly 4 years, both without so much as a cross word with another motorist, let alone an accident.

So here's the deal ... my Mum has never really liked the idea of me riding motorbikes especially as my brother died on one when he was only 18, so when I told my Mum that I'd got a motorbike, naturally, she freaked.

I tried to "sell" the idea to her by showing her all the lengths I would go to make it as safe a pursuit as possible. Nice try, Arlo. Endless conversations about never riding at night, always wearing protective gear, never riding fast etc etc had about as much effect as filling up a swimming pool with a teaspoon.

So I (metaphorically) stepped it up a gear and searched around on the web for safety training courses. This was a last ditch attempt to show my mum how serious I was about safety (which I was). I found a training course run by the local police force where I live (in the UK) where trained police riders take you out and show you how to ride safely. So naturally, thinking I had nothing to lose (isn't hindsight an exact science?), I signed up immediately.

So on an extremely sunny and sweaty day in June 2005, I set off for my training course. I got to the training centre in much the same manner as on previous occasions when riding my bike; without accident or incident, all calm and composed.

The day started well and I was making quite good progress despite the fact that the police officer and the other guy who was training with me had MUCH bigger bikes than me. I did struggle to keep up on occasions. As I say, everything seemed to be going well and I was just starting to look forward to a nice spot of lunch in a country pub when, in the blink of an eye, my whole life got turned upside down (literally).

I was following the police officer on his Honda bike with the other guy who was training, following behind me. Now, police officers in England are trained to a very high standard and as such, use every correct procedure as written in the Highway Code (the driving guidelines "bible" in the UK). These procedures include using hand signals to indicate what they are doing, something which nearly every other driver on the road (me included, as you will see) largely ignores and doesn't recognise.

So, I'm 10 minutes from a lovely lunch, cruising down a country road with the warm breeze rushing through the vents on my crash helmet having the time of my life, when the police officer in front of me gives me a hand signal which, in the 1 second it took me to see it, I (wrongly) interpret to be an invitation to overtake. So I speed up with a quick twist of the throttle. Half a second later which is half a second too late, I realise that he was telling me that he was SLOWING DOWN. Bottom line is that I get as far as applying a tentative squeeze to the front brake which doesn't do me much good as the bike has already strayed onto the side of the country road where all manner of gravel, dirt and other slippery stuff awaits my lack of traction.

Within a split second (that's how it was for me - all this stuff about slow motion in accidents certainly didn't apply here), I am on the deck staring at the sky wondering how the hell I got there.

I look down the road and unbelievably, I've overtaken the bike which is some 50 yards behind me. First thing I realise is that my shoulder feels like I have Hulk Hogan doing the Can-Can on it. It is too painful to even look at, let alone move. Next thing I try to do which I quickly give up on is move my right leg, which doesn't "feel right".

I move my leg and my hip and knee joint duly oblige and move the way I'd expect, but my foot stubbornly stays where it is and I just have time to think "That's not right!" before the policeman and the other guy I was with are by my side.

Well, if there's anything like good luck in situations like this, then my good luck boils down to two things:-

1) If you're gonna have an accident in the middle of nowhere, then it's certainly very handy to be in the company of a policeman with a radio who can call 911 in a flash!

2) It also helps that the policeman AND the other guy I was training with are both trained first aiders.

The first thing they do is to tell me to lay still. I just want to take my crash helmet off and get up, but am told very firmly not to attempt either thing. I just about hear the other guy say "that's a bad open break", and didn't realise until the paramedics turned up that in technical jargon, he meant "this guy has sustained a grade 2 compound fracture of the right tibia and fibula.

In the next few weeks I will quickly become a mini-expert in lower leg orthopedics.

So I lie still, and Mick (the other guy) very kindly dabs my extremely sweaty brow with cool water - remember I'm lying on a country road in direct sunlight wearing the equivalent of two dead cows!! Very sweaty indeed...

10 minutes later, the distinctive ner-ner-ner sound of an approaching ambulance tells me that the cavalry is finally here.

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 Mon 8:04am 10 October 2005
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