Cyclist injured in pothole fall

2011-09-24 00:00

AN early morning cycle ended abruptly yesterday for one of Pietermaritzburg’s top cyclists. After hitting a pothole on Hoosen Haffajee Street he suffered a fractured shoulder and injured back, his ear needed eight stitches and he had bloodied grazes all over his face.

Paul Lancaster has been cycling for 15 years and won the master’s category in the Hill2Hill cycling race last weekend.

He caught his front wheel on what he calls the pothole’s “sharp lip” and flipped over his handlebars, falling on his face into the tar. “The momentum just throws you straight over.”

He described the incident as minor, but cycling companion Con Malherbe said, “He went down like a ton of bricks,” and described the fall as a “huge impact”.

It was so loud that Kay Ngcobo, a resident in the street, came out to investigate. “I was sleeping when I heard the noise and saw [Lancaster] lying there.” Ngcobo took him water to wash his face, which had “blood running out”, said Ngcobo.

It is not the first time the pothole has ruined Ngcobo’s slumber. Over the past five months it has gotten bigger and he hears “the noise every day and every night” as motorists drive over the hole. He has started filling the hole to avoid the nuisance.

Trevor Rowe, another cyclist riding with Lancaster, said the pothole plague is “ridiculous”. Watching Lancaster fall “was scary”, he said, as his “face just planted in the tar”.

A battered Lancaster said “my back is buggered”, but did not want to make a fuss about the accident.

However, he said it’s not a very good sign for the city ahead of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Masters World Champs next year. He thought sharing his story would be valuable if it helped other cyclists and put some pressure on the municipality to fix the roads.

Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Brian Zuma said: “We have a programme that we are busy with to sort out the roads. It has already been implemented to cope with the impending rainy season.”

The offending pothole was difficult to find because there is one every few metres along Hoosen Haffajee Street. Weekend Witness counted half-a-dozen on a short stretch between traffic lights.

He may be bruised and limping and with a crushed cellphone, but Lancaster is not overly bothered with his bad luck. He already has a steel plate and two pins in his hip, which he broke two years ago, but not in a pothole mishap.

He plans to get back in the saddle tomorrow, but his wife Bev thinks he should rest.

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