Sunday, June 25, 2017

Rescue mission Ardeche

French Village Diaries cycling injuries Ardechoise rescue plan
Adrian sporting his Dujarrier shoulder support
Before I continue with our Ardéche drama I’d just like to say THANK YOU! Following my first post we have received so many lovely messages wishing Adrian a speedy recovery, here on the blog, on Facebook and in person, it really has cheered us up, thank you all.

I don’t know about you, but we both rely on our mobile phones to be our phone books, which we have now discovered can be a problem. Following the dramatic fall at 45km/h that saw him, his bike and everything in his pockets scattered down an Ardéche hillside, Adrian was without his mobile. The only phone numbers he could remember were our landline and his Mum’s landline – in the UK. Knowing Ed and I were out, his only option of getting a message to me was to beg/borrow the use of a phone to call his Mum, Sandra and hope she was home.

Ed and I returned home once we had spoken to Sandra and there began the telephone vigil, alongside regular texting between Sandra and I, and the wonderings of what happens next. A couple of times Adrian managed to use a phone at the hospital and let me have a brief update, but the day was long and the hours ticked slowly by.

French Village Diaries cycling injuries Ardechoise rescue plan
His x-rays
His first call reassured me he was basically OK, although with some damage to his left shoulder that meant it was refusing to stay in place. X-rays show a large gap between his arm and shoulder, but the doctor was happy that there was no break. This was the good news, however by mid afternoon he still had no idea when they would let him go and more importantly how he would get from Valence back to St Félicien, about an hours drive up into the Ardéche hills.

His journey there had been a dramatic blue-light ambulance ride, strapped to a bed with heart monitors too and although he was by no means the only cyclist taken there, most people had friends or family arrive to take them home. That was my big problem. How did I get myself 600kms to his bedside without driving, as having two cars but potentially only one driver wasn’t very practical. My only option was to sit and wait some more, but during the afternoon thoughts like will he need an operation?, how long will they keep him?, how will he get back to St Félicien?, how will he cope camping alone?, how will he get back home to us?, went around and around in my head. Adrian says that all that was going through his head was how was the bike and what would the wife say!

Mid afternoon and his missing phone rang me! A French lady called Natalie advised me the phone had been found and handed into the Ardéchoise officials; proving there are still good and honest people in the world! I told her his entry number, name and what I knew about his current whereabouts. By this point his car and tent were in one location in St Félicien, his bike elsewhere in St Félicien, his phone was being held in a neighbouring village, he was in Valence and I was at home. It was a real logistical nightmare.
We needed a Rescue Mission Plan, but I wasn’t sure anyone would be willing to hop in my 13 year old, manual gear box car, that currently has no air con and drive across France with me in temperatures over 35º, then return alone in it while I chauffeured Adrian home in his automatic car, which has air con, cruise control and speed limiter. However, I was wrong. Sandra couldn’t book her plane ticket fast enough and even once we had our plan in place our very good neighbours were slightly offended I hadn’t called them to action earlier in the day.

Once strapped up in a padded brace that tightly holds both shoulders back and together, his arm is relatively stable and once they were happy the hospital released him with a medical report, lots of prescriptions for pain killers and his x-ray pictures. At each step of his ‘adventure’ he was asked for his Ardéchoise entry number, so someone somewhere in their control centre was keeping an administrative eye on him. I can’t thank them enough, especially as they kept his bike safe, returned his phone and organised and paid for a taxi to get him back to the campsite, at a cost of 186€. They even phoned on Friday to see how he was doing.

His last meal had been the saucisson and cheese at 9.00am, so it was a tired, weary and hungry husband who returned to his empty tent at 20.45. Thankfully his car key hadn’t been lost and in the car was his UK mobile, giving us direct communication for the first time all day. It was so much more reassuring for me once we could talk and message, despite him sounding so fed up. His main concern initially was how he was going to get his bike back!

Meanwhile Sandra and I had been busy hatching our rescue plan and my five-year-old nephew seemed to think Grandma and Auntie Jacqui were just like the real-life Paw Patrol off to rescue Uncle Ade. If she flew to us, we could share the drive to him and then have two drivers to get the cars home. Needless to say he wasn’t keen! He still has some movement in his arms and he was sure he could manage to drive a left hand drive automatic. He was also determined to start making his way home as soon as possible, rather than spend another night with an achy shoulder, camping out on an airbed and with no shower.

Having made two short drives to collect his bike and phone, with the help of some friendly fellow cyclist/campers he packed the tent and car and carefully made his way to a hotel in St Etienne. However he did reluctantly agree to our rescue mission, so a flight was booked for Sandra and a route plotted to get us to his hotel in St Etienne. He then figured if he was OK following the drive to St Etienne on Sunday, it should be possible for him to make his way a little closer on Monday morning, thus reducing our journey time to him.

Just before midday on Monday we all met up in a coffee shop in Montluçon. It had been a hectic few days, we’d all been driving since early morning and still had to return home, but all that really mattered was that he wasn’t alone anymore.

French Village Diaries cycling injuries Ardechoise rescue plan
Taking things easy

It’s certainly been a long week, but Adrian is taking things easy, receiving lots of TLC, feeling a bit better and a little less bruised, although it will be a while before he is out on the bike again.