When it all goes wrong – an apology to my brother.

After more than 3 weeks of reflection, all I really know is that, sometimes, very small things happen that have very big consequences.

To set the scene, simply put, it’s a day of joy and fun. I don’t get much time to spend in close quarters with my brother, Phil. Acting from my own selfishness and attempts to put that right, I’d planned a mini trip away, where we’d meet with my cousin, Adrian, for a rare treat of time together. A few beers, an evening in a hotel, a decent breakfast, and a great bike ride. An amalgamation of simple pleasures combining to make a rare treat.

Man down.

When Phil fell from his bike and hit the ground, he hit it hard. Nobody knew what happened and nobody ever will. He was concussed and his own memory of the incident does not exist. Sandwiched between Adrian and I on an innocuous and pretty harmless part of the track at Llandegla, his fall wasn’t seen by either of us – out of our lines of vision. As such, we only have the consequences to dwell upon. Phil’s fall shattered his clavicle and broke two of his ribs.

The immediate few days after obviously brought him significant pain and discomfort, loss of sleep and probably a lot of anxiety from the loss of consciousness and feeling of vulnerability this presents. It’s the longer term consequences that are probably causing me as much distress as Phil at the moment. I feel I’ve been instrumental in a knock-back in Phil’s life.

Long term prognosis?

Whether Phil gets back on a mountain bike or tackles anything with some similar risk attached is probably the furthest thing from his mind now. He faces eight weeks in a sling whilst his clavicle gets a chance to knit together helped by the titanium plate they have put in. That cuts across family holiday time, his work, his family time… a temporary but major disability.

Yes – Phil’s an adult and a very capable cyclist, but without my having the idea, we simply wouldn’t have been there.

If, for whatever reason, and however well justified, Phil decided in future to maybe not ride that race or make that trip, or not to ski, to run down a fell… all those little things that need confidence, then I will be whatever the next step up from regretful is. That’s because these are the little things that define my own life. The little extras around the edge of the life stuff. The bits that can make a day remarkable.

Broken Helmet

A broken helmet and torn clothing can be replaced. Bones generally do heal. Even those rare chances to have fun with one’s brother and cousin can be rearranged and refactored into busy lives. But I’m so worried that knocked-back that can-do confidence,

Yes, the impact on Anne an Phil’s children, and other inconveniences are immeasurable here and those things prey on me.

Sorry.

Phil, I’m just feeling sorry it turned bad.

Half full.

I’m not sure whether this is a half-empty or half full thing, but Phil, you’ve either been very lucky or very unlucky. It could have gone so much worse and please let’s not dwell on that. On the other hand, it could have just been a great day out, and could have been finished by a great gig in Lancaster later that evening. Let’s just assume that you were lucky. That we were lucky.

You’ve spent some brief time sidelined from your busy life – and I know you’ve said that it’s been actually quite welcome, too. Small mercies.

I wish you a full and speedier recovery than anyone thinks is possible.

Scarface Claw

Forty-and-a-half: Time to party

Having a birthday in the depths of January isn’t that good. At the butt-end of Christmas when schools have gone back and the daylight lasts about as long as dinner time, no-one feels like anything other than thinks like diets, holidays, or ending it all. When I turned 40 this January I kept it a low key affair. Not because I didn’t want to get lots of people together, but more because I didn’t want anyone to be doing it under duress. Continue reading “Forty-and-a-half: Time to party”

Christmas 2008 – a load of Haygarths together

SmilingWe had Phil (my brother) and Anne with their three children and my mum to stay on Xmas day and had a brill time. So much went on my head’s a whizz but we seemed to cram a million little memories into 26ish hours.

Grandma's bunchA load of photos here. My own personal favourite moments were Angus saying “I can bite my own toe uncle Dave and it well hurts” and the fairy hunting going on on the lovely walk through Redisher woods in idyllic Boxing Day sunshine.

Cyclocross National Trophy 2008 Round 2: Bicton Arena, Devon

CyclocrossI’m a bit late in blogging this; I should apologise really – I’ve been working… a truly dreadful thing and I really ought to get my priorities right.

The 2008 national trophy series got underway in really bad style the other week in Abergavenny as documented; I was determined that the next round – with the three peaks out of the way – was going to make amends. Bicton Arena was a really long travel and necessitated the only cycling night away from the family, which is a bit of a chore, and I spent all of the run-up to the event thinking that it better bloody well be worth the travelling and expoense for a one hour race.

It was. The course was just great – a true mix of most good things in cyclocross barring some stepped run ups and a sand pit! The sandy mud dried out as we raced and after 40 minutes it started to really get sticky, so I needed to change the bike once. The change was worth it and I put in a big spurt towards the last two laps as a result of the clean gears.

I finished 25th overall which, with two good foreign riders, meant pretty much near my best in any National Tropy race. This is a relief after the Three Peaks which has previously left me a bit flat in the faster traditional cyclocross races.

To add to the day being overall worthwhile, it was brill to see Phil’s whole family and have the boys cheer on uncle Dave and Phil advising me to pull my finger out. Great to have some support – it really boosts you. Add to this the fact that Phil took some really ace pics of my and the whole race, and it was a great day with a great momento to boot.

View a slideshow of my fave selected snaps of the day here – thanks Phil!

On The Nikon D200

Phil's GibsonStaying at Phil’s house for a few days over the weekend gave me an opportunity to play with his ‘work’ camera’, the Nikon D200. It was a stunning experience. The inordinately heavy body gave the camera an unrivalled steadiness, meaning that short at low shutter speeds were more likely to come out without camera-wobble. The Tamron lens was reliable and very happy with fast autofocus, even when firing off repeated shots.

Here are a few of my favourite shots from the camera over the weekend.