Emma Silversides: the highs and lows of cycling

A week or so ago I was at a race in Luxembourg and had the idea to write a blog about the strength and success of the British female riders on the continent. I think that the British cycling media would be blowing a very loud trumpet if we had seen British men claim a 1-2 in Flèche Wallonne (Pooley, Cooke), a first place in a UCI TT (Pooley), a first place in a TT stage of a UCI stage race (Trott) and then a further win in a UCI 1.1 event (Pooley), all in the space of three weeks.

This is no small feat; the Brits have been truly sat on the top of the pile in women’s cycling, and do not forget that behind every winner there are five workers; I know that Cooke and Pooley would be the first to admit that their British team-mates deserved to stand on the podium with them. Unfortunately the coverage of these successes has not been huge so I thought that a little boasting on the girl’s behalf would not go amiss.

What a sad occurrence has taken place since my initial thought to write about these successes though. My sincere best wishes go to all five girls for a speedy, smooth recovery and comeback. What more can I say over the incident? I am sure that I am no position to make judgements here; all I know about the accident is what I have read, very brief as it was, the nurse driving the car simply ‘did not see the cyclists’. You could not ask for a more simple statement.

If the girls had sustained their injuries during a race, would it be easier to swallow for both them and the rest of those who know them? Maybe so; bike racing is accepted as a dangerous sport- scraps, cuts and breaks are a part of it. But should we, as cyclists, accept that such injuries can also be sustained just as easily during training?

If we ride with caution, respect and the right protection (Emma has openly admitted that without a helmet she would not be here now), there is nothing more that we can do. So the rest is out of our control; someone talking on a mobile, someone checking their GPS, a stranger not familiar with the road layout, a driver misjudging distance or speed…. The list could go on and on; in each case the driver is seemingly the guilty party. But what covers all of these circumstances is a lack of focus and concentration on the task in hand, the task being to drive responsibly with complete awareness. Can you honestly say that you are a perfect driver? I know that I cannot. In a perfect world this accident would not have happened.  

I simply wish the girls a speedy recovery, both physically and mentally, the scars of the later can so often be deeper and more prolonged than the former in such circumstances.