Shetland’s top woman cyclist Christine McLean is recovering after an accident where she was forced off the road by an overtaking lorry.
She was on a training run just north of Cunningsburgh, heading south, when the accident occurred last Friday morning.
She was left with little option but to take evasive action and ended up crashing through a wire fence. At first she thought her leg must be broken but thankfully it turned out to be severe bruising.
The driver of the lorry, a blue-sided roadworks contractor’s vehicle, failed to stop after the incident and Christine feels they should be made aware of the fact that she could easily have been seriously injured or even killed. A police spokesman said on Wednesday they were investigating the incident.
Christine, 47, who was named Shetland’s sportsperson of the year last November, is likely to be out of serious action for up to a month. She has already missed the weekend’s British 50-mile time trial championship where, having already claimed the gold medal in her class at both the 10 and 25-mile events, she was hoping to complete a hat trick.
She was on her way home to Levenwick and approaching the Ocraquoy junction on her left when she said the lorry pulled out to overtake her. Then a car approached from the south.
She said: “I was in the time trial position, leaning forward on the front bars, doing about 30mph. The lorry driver was committed to overtaking but rather than push the car off the road he came closer to me.”
It then became a case of either going under the lorry’s wheels or leaving the road, and Christine obviously took the latter option, hoping she could retain control of her bike. But she failed to do so and hit the fence, knocking a post over and going through the wire.
She saw the lorry’s brake lights come on as she crashed.
She said: “I remember hitting the ground and then being throttled with my head stuck through the fence. I thought my leg was broken but the muscle probably saved me.
“Lots of people stopped. Two local ladies went off and got a duvet to keep me warm. Two guys, I think they were from Bond Helicopters and first aiders or paramedics, wanted to put me in their car and go to hospital. But I didn’t want to be moved. It was so painful. So they tended me and did all the first aid which was necessary. I blacked out for a while.”
Friday’s communication problems with a BT transmitter going down meant that it took an hour and a half for the ambulance to arrive, as it was on another call and the operators had difficulty contacting the paramedics involved. But eventually it did turn up and Christine was taken to hospital in Lerwick. To her relief the checks and X-rays revealed no broken bones, only severe bruising to her head, arms and legs.
Back at her home in Levenwick on Tuesday, she reflected on what had been a very scary encounter.
She said: “As a regular cyclist on Shetland’s roads throughout the year I do appreciate that the vast majority of drivers treat me with respect and courtesy. I do go fast but I get used to the behaviour of the traffic and I am cautiously aware and vigilant to avoid anything that might put me in danger.
“The lorry driver caused the accident by recklessly overtaking me too close, too fast, in the circumstances with the oncoming traffic and leaving me with the choice of either going under his wheels or leaving the road.
As he did not stop I can only hope that at the very least he is aware of what he caused and enormity of what could have happened.
I could easily have been killed.
“I would like to thank all the kind people who stopped to help and offer assistance during the lengthy time I spent at the roadside near Cunningsburgh awaiting the ambulance.”
Christine was bitterly disappointed to have missed the weekend’s British 50-mile time trial championships but added that the incident had not put her off racing. She hoped to be back in light training this week.