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A fractured rib
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Racing the trains in the Swiss Alps.

The summer of 2001 saw myself and Dan hire mountain bikes to keep ouselves amused whilst the slopes were snowless.

I've been mountain biking for years, but this was the first time that I'd actually had real mountains available in which to do it. Living at Kleine Scheidegg, we had up to an hour of continuous downhill at our feet over what was at times extremely rugged terrain. An additional hazard was the cows that were free to stand in the middle of the dirt tracks, and frequently did, especially just after blind corners.

After we'd been biking for a couple of months, we were going at increasingly crazy speeds as we then knew the twists and turns on the way down. Up until that point neither of us had had bad accidents. I mean, of course there had been minor mishaps like when Dan went straight over the handlebars between Wengen and Lauterbrunnen, and the time when my gears slipped at a strategic tarmacked junction (resulting in a healthy scar on my hip which will be with me as long as I live), but these merely caused much swearing and laughter.

One afternoon, I was itching to go out but didn't particularly want to go alone. I gave Dan a call as he wasn't in his room; he told me that he and Frances were approaching Wengernalp, (halfway up to Scheidegg) having walked from Wengen. That was it, I was off, grabbing my helmet and gloves and taking the stairs down seven at a time. Onto my bike, and onto the dirt track.

Boy did I go fast. So fast in fact that I caught up with the train that had left Scheidegg a couple of minutes before me. I could see the tourists pointing out the windows at me, and so, being the showoff that I am thought I'd demonstrate to them just how fast I could go.

Well, there wouldn't have been any problems if it wasn't for the sharp corner that I'd never taken at such speed before. I failed to take it, and instead went straight up the 4 metre bank, stopping at the top when my bike went over my head and landed on my back.

Wincing with pain my main concern was not to be seen from the train that was now rapidly approaching. I hauled my bike down back onto the track and started to peddle hard - I was off again.

500 metres on I skidded to a halt - I had failed to notice that the front tire had snapped out of the wheel rim when I'd crashed, and the inner tube was now a shredded mess wrapped around my brakes.

With the blood beginning to stain my T-shirt and socks, I thought that it might be wise to give up on the bike and walk in order to meet Dan and Frances, which I did, before heading back to Scheidegg with them carrying my bike on my shoulder.

It was several days before I saw the doctor. The x-rays showed that sure enough, I'd fractured my rib, and I was given a lovely elasticated corset for a few weeks. The lacerations soon healed, and it wasn't long before I was back on my bike, although I didn't try to race a train again.

mooove out the way!
The most fantastic place for mountain biking - The Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. Watch out for those cows though!
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