It was our first trip of 2000 to the Nürburgring. I'd done hundreds of laps there in previous trips, and I was generally considered to be a good rider. My friend Ian was right behind me - we were roughly the same speed, and he too has done a lot of laps. We'd already done lots of laps on Friday and Saturday, by late Sunday morning (St George's Day) we had quite a few more under our belts. We were about to stop for lunch, but it looked like it would rain soon, so we went out for one more.
Apparently I ran wide exiting the last right-hander of Wipperman, and bumped along the grass until the left-hander of Eschbach. It seems I then braked hard while going across the track, and the front slid away.
What happened? I don't know - I have no memory until I was in hospital in
England two weeks later. Ian was right behind me, unfortunately not close
enough to see what caused me to leave the track, but close enough to see me hit
the ground, hit the barrier, and then (for fun) be hit in the face by the bike
as it bounced off the armco. Then
and I tumbled down the hill together until we stopped about 40 metres later.
After a helicopter ride to Koblenz Zentralkrankenhaus, I was in coma for a couple of days, and spent another day with my eyes shut (and another few weeks being weird :-)). After a week in intensive care, I had another week on the ward and was then flown home for two weeks in Luton hospital. In all, I had subdural haematoma, collapsed lung, pneumonia, and a broken jaw, shoulder blade and collar bone. At first my right side was paralysed, though I could move my arm after a couple of days, and my leg was showing signs of life after two weeks. By the time I was released from Luton, I could walk up & down stairs unaided.
Five days after getting home, I looked at my computer (I had 3,700 emails waiting :-))
I made a full (well, near enough) recovery, and compared to friends who have
had bangs on the head, my recovery was very quick and easy - for example,
I started to ease myself back to work after only 8 weeks, yet according to
of the 11,500 Britons who have a "severe head injury" every year,
only 15% return to work within five years :-(
(From the ease of my recovery, I'm still not convinced that my injury counts as "severe", though according to Headway's classification it might even be "very severe" ... and Amanda tells me that if I'd been there at the beginning, I wouldn't question how bad it was. Sorry, Mand :-( )
I returned to the Ring as a pillion/passenger (I wasn't allowed to drive) in August, and the first riding trip (with new GSX-R600) at Easter 2001.
On that Easter '01 trip, I got some inkling of what might have happened - in the final right-hander of Wipperman, my bike was hard over and on a tight line. I think I might've touched a footpeg on the raised kerb, which could've jolted me off line enough to go wide on the exit. If it ran wide on to the grass, the rest would be inevitable.
Since so many people had asked, I noted the speeds involved: In the middle of the right-hander I was doing about 90mph, and through Eschbach at about 70mph. I don't know how fast was going when I hit the barrier, but I'm still here so it can't've been very fast.
St George's Day '03: Three years after the crash, my head seems OK, though there are always things I wonder "was I like that before?". My right leg still feels a bit odd.
St George's Day '04: Leg still feels odd :-(
St George's Day '07: Leg still feels a bit odd. It's not comfortable to sleep on my right side. And the shoulder means it's not comfortable to sleep on my left side either. And I've never liked sleeping on my back. Or my front. Still, better than it could've been.
St George's Day '08:
I've often wondered what would've happened if I'd deliberately low-sided while
bumping along the grass.
It might've been better, but on bumpy grass I could've tumbled and snapped bits
Although I was happy to continue to ride at the Ring after this experience, in 2001 I decided it was too dangerous - not because of the limited run-off, nor the proximity of the armco, but because of the oil spills which are practically impossible to avoid.
|17th May:||Crash report to Ixion|
|7th June:||Unwelcome advice from the neurologist|
|21st July:||Report on a nerve conductivity test|
My ambulance - look, it says "ADAM" on the side. Almost.
Amanda spent all the time she could with me.
I think I caused a lot of folk to invest in new helmets and back protectors. Oooh look, you can see where the back wheel hit me in the face ...
... and on the shoulder. I'm told the paramedics were exhorted not to cut through "adamanda" :-) (though you'll note they cut the English flag - on St George's Day ;-> )
This was also the day that Carl Fogarty had his career-ending crash.