Stick to climbing, it's safer!

June 25th, 2014 by Jamie B

Having had a humbling evening bouldering at Slipstones on Saturday, I decided a quick mountain bike ride was the order of the day on Sunday. I’d recently spotted a couple of local routes whilst trawling the internet at work so I popped the bike in the back of the car and nipped up to Reeth (thus avoiding the 8mile ride over Grinton Moor – watch out for this on le Tour). Despite a bit of dithering due to some rather ominous looking clouds I hopped on the bike and headed up the road to Arkengarthdale for a couple of miles before branching off south-east over Reeth Low Moor. This led (logically enough) to Reeth High Moor and after a few miles of climbing on pleasant bridleways I was (virtually) on the summit of Great Pinseat.Image stolen from the web From here I veered north-west and began the decent back into Arkengarthdale. The first section of this was pretty gnarly with the deeply rutted bridleway filled in with fist sized rocks making it rather like riding down a scree slope. A cautious approach soon had me on better ground and the trail dropped rapidly down to the road on fast, flowing tracks.

Image stolen from the web. A mile or so on the road brought me to Langthwaite (of Simon and Debra's bolt-hole fame) where I was able to cross the Arkle and pick up a bridleway that more-or-less follows the river all the way back to Reeth. The first section was fairly pleasant but as the trail began to climb away from the river it became an awkward ride on steep grassy slopes with bracken and nettles encroaching onto the track from either side. Having had to GOAP (get off and push) a significant amount of this I was relieved when the trail opened out onto fields and began to descend. Shortly after passing a couple of hikers (the only people I'd seen all day outside of the villages) I encountered another steep section of scree like trail with a blind corner at the bottom. As the track was only six inches wide and flanked on either side by three feet high nettles I decided a fall here would be highly unpleasant so a bit more GOAP was employed. As it turned out the scree stopped after the corner so it was probably quite rideable after all. I hopped back on and proceeded along the grassy track.Stolen from t'web.

Moments later my front wheel wiped out on a patch of wet grass and, despite having passed the nettles, I managed to get spat off right on top of a lone thistle – ouch! As I went to pick myself up I was surprised to find a three inch gash in my left knee. It was deep! I could see white bits!

"Oh shit!" I exclaimed, as I instinctively grabbed my knee with both hands and pushed the flesh back up to where I thought it ought to be. "What the f**k?" I asked. I was riding on grass. I was hardly moving. There were no rocks. There was no pain! Doesn't matter, what now? No first aid kit – "Shit!" Stay calm – deep breathes. Those walkers were headed this way – they'll be along any minute – stay put.

As I awaited rescue and flitted between nausea and pre-syncope I spotted a single rock protruding from the grassy slope. Closer inspection revealed one upward facing edge, as sharp as flint. Moments later the walkers arrived: "Are you alright?"

"Yes," I replied, "but I might need some help. Do you have a first aid kit?"

“No, sorry. What have you done?”

After filling them in, and giving the wound a bit of a wash with a few squirts from a bottle of water I secured a tissue to my knee with my trusty Buff™ and wrapped the whole thing in a rather fetching pink scarf with spangly gold bits (this didn’t really help much but it would have been rude to refuse… and it did look fabulous darling!) I began the one mile hobble back to Reeth under the watchful eye of my kindly new friends. Shortly before getting back to the car I was passed by Simon and Debra – presumably returning to York after a weekend in the Dales – who smiled and waved, and drove straight past!

I’ll spare you the details of my journey to A&E (except to say that driving without bending your left leg is difficult but not impossible) and my subsequent stay in the South Tees, Thomas Cook University Hospital, Middlesborough – where a change is as good as a holiday. Turned out that in addition to a rather large and dirty wound, I’d partially severed my patella tendon but not as badly as first feared, so I’m hobbling about on crutches but the leg brace is off already and the ten stitches are coming out next week.Hospital

Lessons learnt:

1. Don’t ride the bridleway from Langthwaite to Reeth – it’s shit!

2. Invest in some knee pads – the bloke in the next bed had some nice ones, though they (nor the rest of his body armour) didn’t stop him breaking his shoulder blade.

3. Carry a first aid kit. You can manage without but a few plasters and a bandage go a long way.

4. Always know where your Buff™ is!

P.S. in case you were wondering, the pain did eventually catch up with me – with interest!

3 Responses to “Stick to climbing, it's safer!”

  1. rob s says:

    great blog Jamie let's hope it heals soon

  2. Jamie B says:

    Thanks guys. Came off the codeine yesterday so rewarding myself with a glass of wine!

  3. Jamie B says:

    No worries, just trying to wind up Simon! I'd have waved you down if I thought I needed help. Didn't really realise how bad it was to be honest. Should definitely try and catch up sometime when you're up though.

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