Keen cyclist Ann McLoughlin, 54, Operations Manager at Bott and Co, from Hurdsfield, Macclesfield, was taking part in a charity cycling event on 13 September 2015 when all of a sudden she lost control of her bike and suffered a near fatal accident.
After the fall, Ann stopped breathing for several seconds and sustained serious facial wounds, subsequently having sixteen stitches, followed by months and months of treatment.
Fortunately, Ann was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. In fact a medical professional advised her that had it not been for her helmet, she almost certainly would have lost her life, or at the very least, have survived but with lasting and significant brain damage.
Charity bike ride goes terribly wrong
Recalling the day of the accident, at the Manchester 100 Bike Ride event, Ann says, “It was a beautiful, sunny morning as the Bott Cycling Team departed en masse from the starting point at Wythenshawe Park.
I always look forward to charity bike rides and I’d just bought a new road bike so was keen to put it to the test.” However, twenty miles into the sixty-mile course, things took a turn for the worse as Ann veered downhill at a speed of 35mph and lost control of the bike.
”I only have fragmented memories of the accident but lying face down on the tarmac, wondering why my face was in a pool of blood is one of my recollections.” Ann continues. Yet despite this, she acknowledges herself as lucky.
A medical professional advised that had it not been for her helmet, she almost certainly would have lost her life.
“I had flick-flacked my bike at speed still attached to my cleats, stopped breathing and effectively slam-dunked my head into the pavement. I was so lucky to have avoided broken bones or permanent life-changing injuries… My helmet saved my life.”
A lack of independence
Ann explains that one of the worst things in the aftermath of her accident was the loss of her independence. She had no choice but to constantly rely on help, as she could not raise her arm beyond hip level and was in considerable pain.
“It was awful; really quite sobering. I was relying on my husband Kevin, 55, to do everything… he had to drive me to work, do the shopping, cooking, everything. He even had to wash my hair. . It was awful; really quite sobering.”
After the event, Ann immediately attended physiotherapy appointments and still has weekly chiropractor appointments to this day to ensure that she has strong mobility.
Why isn’t wearing a helmet compulsory by law?
Ann’s decision to wear a £50 helmet was vital in saving her life; a very insignificant sum when you consider the alternative.
This is why she is passionate about advocating a change in the law so that wearing a helmet when cycling is mandatory.
Ann recalls a time that somebody wished to join a Bott and Co ride but without a helmet. Staying true to Bott and Co’s ethos regarding safety in cycling, Ann stood her ground and expressed that she did not want him to participate.
Ann says, “I felt so strongly about it. I didn’t want him ride with us because it was unsafe.”
Back on the bike
Since recovering, Ann has fortunately not suffered any psychological impact such as flashbacks or PTSD, which is something she was worried about. Many of Bott and Co’s cycling accident claimants report varying degrees of psychological issues after their experience.
Ann’s courage is evident. She has invested in a more expensive helmet and cannot overstate the importance of safety and staying visible to all road users.
“At this time of year, in low light and while commuting, a really good set of bike lights is important, both front and rear.”
This is the first year Ann has considered taking part in an event of a similar kind to the Manchester 100km. As a keen cyclist, Ann knows how scary it is getting back out on the roads after an accident and is wary of cycling in unknown territory where she doesn’t know the course or terrain. Ann is still recovering from the accident but thanks to the support from her friends, family and colleagues; she is slowly building her confidence back up in order to take on the next challenge.
At this time of year, in low light and while commuting, a really good set of bike lights is important, both front and rear.
Again, Bott and Co leads by example when they are cycling through the streets of the UK. All cyclists at Bott and Co invest in high visibility clothing of some sort. Ann has gone on to buy two sets of gloves, one high vis, and the other is ‘pro vis’ which emit a silver stark light. “People from all sides can see me very clearly, there’s no excuse.”
Bott and Co has been gaining justice for victims of cycling accidents for more than seventeen years. Claimants are treated with respect and empathy by the firm’s team of experts, many of whom are part of Bott and Co’s dedicated cycling team.