Wednesday, 29 January 2014
When I decided to blog about our mammoth cycle ride I had already thought through a plan for several topics, but now I need to adapt it! Why? Well two articles on the BBC News website really caught my attention, here they are:
The first article is an advert to promote cycling safety in Scotland, it's aimed at car drivers and suggest that they should give cyclists as much room as they would a horse. However, it seems the Cycling Scotland group look at safety as the responsibility of car drivers rather than cyclists as several scenes have been filmed where the cyclists don't wear helmets! How daft, not surprisingly the advert has been banned.
So, what was the reason the group gave for not wearing helmets? They are not a legal requirement, they are optional. Absolute bonkers if you are trying to promote cycling safety. I recall cycling London to Brighton some years ago, a very busy organised ride with many people participating who have never cycled a reasonable distance before, hence there are lots of accidents. One of the gang I was cycling with was resolute that he would not wear a helmet himself, a lot of his reasons seemed to be driven by bravado which was just madness, fortunately we persuaded him that wearing a helmet was a must and he reluctantly donned a helmet.
If you've ever cycled London to Brighton you will no doubt vividly recall the immensely steep Ditchling Beacon which greets you toward the end, a monster of a climb that saps the energy from your legs. What comes up must come down though and once you've conquered the climb there is a long downhill section into Brighton itself on which you can pick up quite a speed and a feeling of almost perfect elation at nearing the completion of a huge feat. Well on this particular ride we bombed down that hill, I hung back a little having seen some nasty accidents I was a little cautious; which gave me an excellent view of what happened next.
Our reluctant helmet wearer had got up a mighty speed and manoeuvred to overtake a middle aged woman on a mountain bike, as he did so, everything went in to slow motion. Being inexperienced and most likely being someone who had not cycled that kind of distance before, the woman inexplicably turned her handlebars to be sideways on to the oncoming speed demon, a stomach churning crash ensued as he collided with her and bike and all span into the air and over the top of her and onward down the hill. A sickening bang and crunch as he hit the road and all of a sudden the world sped up again and the adrenaline was flowing full pelt around my body as I rushed over to him. Amazingly no lasting damage was done, at least to him, his helmet was ruined, cracked and split in numerous places as it took the impact and shielded his skull from almost certain damage. The moral, is quite simple, wear your cycle helmet, you cannot control what mishaps will happen, it's crazy to suggest it's an option not to.
The second article is all about a "breakthrough" for MS. I say breakthrough because I've seen and heard such stories before. In fairness to the BBC, this one is quite balanced and does not raise false hope, but if you trawl through newspaper archives you will find countless examples of "miracle cures" and "breakthroughs" which generally are anything but and seeing this article reminded me of them.
I've not counted the amount of times I would see such an article or someone would tell me about one, but each time a surge of excitement would course through my body as I for just a second allowed myself to believe that a cure was genuinely in sight. The crushing disappointment and helplessness I would feel when I discovered the newspaper articles were nothing more than overblown hype to sell copy was and still is incredibly vivid. I'm sure that anyone who has known someone with a terminal or severe illness will have experienced the same.
In an ideal world we would not have a sensationalist press who would raise hopes in this cruel way, but perhaps more importantly, we would have a cure for disease such as MS and CF. I know that in both cases there are lots of studies going on and there is always hope the promised land is just round the corner. I guess the part I can play in this is to raise awareness and raise some cash to help us get there a little quicker. I hope you will help me and sponsor me in raising cash too.
Thanks for reading and here's the link to sponsor