Expedition climber and outdoor industry businessman Jerry Gore was recently involved in a collision with a motorist whilst cycling on a local road near his home in Vallouise, France. Jerry is slowly starting to recover from his injuries - which include spinal damage and paralysis of his right arm - whilst also trying to manage his type 1 diabetes. Jerry is keen to share an important message about the consequences of careless driving.
Jerry was training for the annual insulin challenge for his charity Action4diabetics.org (A4D), which provides insulin and medical support for children across Southeast Asia. Each year, Jerry takes on an extreme challenge to raise funds. This year, at the end of September, he had planned to undertake a sea to summit cycle/climb in southern France and cycle 240km from Nice to the Ecrins Massif and then run/climb to the summit of Barre des Ecrins (4105m), all within 24 hours. Jerry now hopes to postpone the challenge until next year - if he recovers sufficiently.
Read Jerry's story below, which he originally shared on Facebook:
Think once, think twice, think bike...please!
On 10th August, a motorist drove into me at a cross roads as I descended a local road cycling at 33Km/h. The driver did not see me and drove straight across the junction. I hit the front of her car, which catapulted me into the air. Result? A long operation, paralysis of my right arm and a plastic shock absorber inserted between two of my cervical vertebrae that I will carry for the rest of my life.
I have survived many life-threatening events and yet because of a careless motorist and a stupid accident this one may affect me the most. I am angry. Really angry. But anger is an emotion that has got me through many scrapes in the past, and it will get me through the many months of physio ahead. I will recover. But for now, I just want you to understand that this senseless accident could have been avoided if the motorist in question had just spent a few seconds longer at the junction. So please everyone, every time you get into your car - ALWAYS think once, think twice, THINK BIKE. Remember you are in a car. Cyclists or bikers have no protection.
Now, if you are still interested here is the full story. As I hit the car in front of me the front forks on my road bike shattered, and I was projected 10 metres across the road, landing on gravel and badly injuring my neck and right shoulder.
From the site of the accident I was taken first to Briançon and then eventually down to a Marseille hospital. I went without food for more than 43 hours, and was continually moved around a lot, all without knowing where I was or what was happening to me. The worst was a horrible MRI scan. I was in a lot of pain and I suffer from claustrophobia, but they still had to wrap a tight bandage around my neck and then put a plastic container over my head and insert me into a very close-fitting tube that groaned and banged incessantly and very loudly. I had three sets of five-minute scans. It felt like someone had forced a pillow over my head and then forced me under water. I was drowning, in pain and could not move. The first session I was taken out in a cold sweat, the second I was crying, and by the end of the third I was reduced to just a small bundle of fear. When I came out of the scanner tube for the last time the nurse said simply, "Ca va?" I didn't answer. I was just so relieved it was all over.
Finally, after 4 days in hospital and many scans and examinations later, a surgeon told me I had dislodged one of my cervical vertebrae just below my skull, and that I would need a 3-hour operation to insert a cage (shock absorber) between vertebrae C6 and C7.
Since the op I have lost 4Kg in weight, the sugar control for my diabetes has been a nightmare. I still have little movement and no force in my right arm, and a very stiff right shoulder. To give you an idea I can't touch my own nose, and my handshake is like shaking hands with a docile jelly. This is all a result of nerve damage from the accident. It could take up to two years of physio to get my strength and movement back. I may never get it all back. No one can say.
Every day that you are in pain you ponder your existence and think why did this happen. What did I do wrong? What can I learn from all this? You can't think clearly because of the morphine and often you wake in the middle of the night, and after pacing up and down for what seems like hours to alleviate the pain, you just collapse questioning your own sanity. I still have little energy. In fact, I wanted to write this post three weeks ago but I just couldn't until now.
Jackie has been hugely supportive and has done a great job as she now has to do everything. I am not even able to be left in charge of my own bed pan, let alone help run our businesses. No change there then! Doctors will not commit to a definitive prognosis. The only good thing is that the bone resting on my spinal column stopped where it did. 4mm deeper and I would have been paralysed for life. One doctor said that I had to understand that damaged nerves regrow at 1mm a day. But it all means nothing. I will recover at whatever rate my body allows. I just have to live each day as it comes and stay positive, which I know I can do.
I will do other challenges and I will continue to do the best I can, with whatever I have left. But this post is not about me, there are many many people far worse off than myself. This post is about a very clear message I want to send to all those who drive. EVERY TIME YOU GET IN A CAR THINK BIKE! Cyclists have no protection. One stupid mistake could cost someone, even a whole family, a lifetime of pain and suffering. My accident was really nothing but it will set me back months if not years. No Himalayan exped this autumn, no guiding The Nose on El Cap, no UK lecture Tour, potentially no diabetes camps working for my charity Action4Diabetics. So many things I was going to do but now cannot. All because a motorist did NOT spend a few more seconds checking before turning across a junction. It was 100% her fault. It was a stupid mistake but one we are all capable of making.
Road biking is super popular these days. Road bikes can easily travel at the speed of cars, especially anywhere near a descent, and road bikes are not always easy to see. Every time you get into your car BELIEVE that you COULD hit a cyclist. BELIEVE IT...every time you drive. Motor and road bikes - both are at high risk. It you hit one, everyone involved suffers...a lot. So please…THINK BIKE!