As soon as the front wheel hit the tramline, I knew we were going down. We we going so slowly and we were so heavy; ending up sprawled across the wet cobbled street was inevitable.
We had only travelled a couple of hundred metres from the hostel when we had to cross an area of cobbled streets, cris-crossed with tramlines. I was certainly nervous about the tramlines, but there was plenty of room each side for bikes.
However, we soon entered a cobbled area that was full of parked lorries, delivery vans and even road sweeping wagons. Stopping crossed my mind, which with the benefit of hindsight would have been the best decision. Instead, I crossed the section of tramlines to go past them.
The front wheel slipped into one of the tramlines and we were toast. After going down, I was OK, but Louise was struggling to breath; I think she was winded. The handlebar had hit her on the stomach/ribs and she was in trouble.
The people who came to help were amazing, there were almost too many of them. The guy from the bar put a chair out and gave us a couple of bottles of water. Another bar owner said we could come inside and get warmer and asked if we wanted a warm drink. The general consensus from the local people was that this kind of accident happens a lot. Didn’t make me feel much better though.
Louise spent some time gathering herself, but it was clear she was in pain and needed checking out. We were directed to the hospital about 1k away; Louise wanted to walk to see how it felt. Even on the way when we asked directions, the guy offered Louise a lift in his car. Hats off to the people of Ghent.
Having checked in to the hospital, the
team gave Louise a thorough checking over and sent her for a CT scan. At this point it did cross my mind as to whether the adventure was over. Fortunately, the scan revealed nothing more sinister than bad bruising which is nonetheless painful.
The problem with an accident such as this is that the stoker has no warning, no chance to brace, they just go down. In this case landing on the handlebars. However, fundamentally this was down to a bad call by the Pilot. I felt awful.
On being discharged, while we were still in the hospital we secured a room in a hotel for the night. We parked up Claud and had a mooch around the town, which it was nice to see without the torrential rain. A lunch and a couple of beers were followed by a rest at the hotel.
We will need to revise our plans, but will await to see how the stoker feels in the morning. She is sore and no doubt will be stiffer in the morning. We can stay here longer if required, we will just have to take a longer train journey. No harm in that.
Lying on the hospital bed, Louise said one thing: ‘I am not going home’.
Chapeau, stoker, chapeau.