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‘I followed this one piece of advice and it saved my life. It could save yours too…’

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Are you a cyclist? Whether you are a casual or an avid cyclist, then you might want to read this!  It honestly could be a life saver, says Fiona Illingworth…

Fiona says a good helmet is the best investment she could have made

I’ve been a keen road cyclist for years.  In fact, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t own a bike.

I am lucky to live in a quiet rural area of North Yorkshire and I know the country lanes around my neighbourhood very well.

I usually cycle by myself and think nothing of putting in 40 to 50 miles, always stopping somewhere for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

I don’t mind admitting that I’ve spent quite a bit on cycling kit over the years.  I own a decent bike and, yes, I wear the lycra and those fancy cycle shoes. But by far the best investment I have ever made has been a cycle helmet and this year it really proved its worth.  Let me tell you the story…

Unusually, I was cycling with a friend.  We had just stopped for tea and cake and we were heading back to my house.  I was in front and travelling down a quiet country lane towards a corner, not too fast because I didn’t want to leave my cycling buddy behind.  Out of nowhere, I became aware of a vehicle passing me. I don’t remember what happened next because I was knocked unconscious.

The collision destroyed Fiona’s cycling helmet, but it ensured she survived to share her story

Next thing I know, people wearing hi-vis jackets were standing over me, asking if I could feel my legs.  I was lying on the ground, my face in a pool of blood.  I was placed on a body board with a neck brace and air-lifted to hospital.

My friend had managed to speak to the driver, ring an ambulance and look after me until help arrived.  All that time, I was unconscious on the road, which must have been pretty scary for him.

I was airlifted to hospital because paramedics feared the worse.  As it turned out, I came off quite lightly compared to what could have happened.  I lost my front teeth; sustained a significant cut to my face, which will leave a permanent scar; broke some ribs and suffered a nasty cut to the back of my head.

Some of the injuries only took a matter of weeks to heal, but others will take much longer.  I am only just beginning my dental treatment (delayed due to the Coronavirus).  My dentist tells me that it will take up to six months to sort out my teeth.

Despite serious injuries, Fiona was determined to get back on a bike again

In the meantime, I have suffered from severe concussion, which has left me with a form of vertigo. Hopefully, with physiotherapy, this will eventually be resolved.   Issues with my balance have meant that I struggle to ride a bike and I’m lucky if I can do 20 miles these days.  But I was determined to get back on a bike.  Not my beloved bike, you understand.  My bike was a write-off and I’ve had to buy a new one.

In fact, I’ve had to replace everything.  The first thing on the list was a new helmet.  I was genuinely shocked when I saw the bashing my helmet had sustained: that could have been my skull.  If I’d not been wearing a helmet, I know for sure I would not be here to tell the tale.

I’ve shared my story because I can. Think about it.  If you are going out on a bike … no matter how short a journey, no matter how confident or indestructible you feel, please wear a helmet!

Last modified: August 6, 2020