By Nick Bull
While his Rapha Condor JLT team-mates have been enjoying temperatures pushing 40°C in Australia, Kristian House was forced to spend his Christmas and New Year in England.
The 34-year-old was scheduled to fly to Australia from America - where he lives during the winter months - over the festive period, but a collarbone break caused by a deer on December 20 put paid to that.
"The crash happened at the end of a seven-hour ride around Austin, Texas. I could have opted for a flat route home, but I went into the hills to ride for another 20 minutes," said House.
"I was just starting a descent on a wide, straight rode, which has housing to one side, and woods to the other. I saw something beige in the corner of my eye and I immediately thought it was dog, but the next thing I knew something t-boned me.
"I didn't see it at all. It was only when I sat up and saw four of them running back into the woods I realised what had happened. It must have had some speed, because it bolted from nowhere.
"I've seen some pictures of cars being written off after colliding with deer, and I could have been struck with its antlers, so it definitely could have been a lot worse."
House's chances of being operated on before Christmas in America were minimal, but team manager John Herety (left, with House) managed to find an available slot at the Claremont Hospital, one of Rapha's 2013 partners, in Sheffield on December 23.
"The problem was, I had to get to the UK in time," added House. "The best flight from Texas would have got me in late on the Sunday, and I would have had to have driven from London.
"Luckily there was a flight from Houston to Manchester - via London - available, so I booked that. However, I had five-and-a-half hours until it left, and it's three-and-a-half hour drive, so I just packed whatever I could quickly, and thankfully my mother dropped everything at 20 minutes notice to drive me to the airport. I just made it!"
The 2009 British road race champion expressed his surprise about how quickly he felt "back to normal" following the operation, and a three-week trip Down Under may still happen, depending on a full recovery.
He flew back to Austin yesterday, although its climate at this time of year is a world away from Australia.
"If the wind is from the north [coming from Mexico] it's warm, but if it's heading south, it's cold," he said.
"Two days before the accident I rode for five-and-a-half hours and it was that cold, my bottles were frozen for the duration!"
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