My life has been, so far at least, a 22 year period of crashes and accidents. OK, that sounds a little pessimistic, it hasn't all been crashes. But the crashes certainly make for interesting stories, so sit back, relax, and prepare to chuckle, or at least crack a wry smile at my expense as I recount all the times I've crashed into something, fallen off of something, or narrowly avoided an accident from ages 5/6 years old to present.
What; A Bicycle
Where; A Bridge over the A421 just east of Bedford
When; Ages ago. I must have been about 5 or 6 years old.
Picture the scene, we are all out for a family bike ride, kind of like a yoghurt commercial. We'd cycled to the Danish camp just outside Bedford, it was Summer, and a long time ago, so the details are a little hazy. Anyhow, we are cycling back to Bedford (where we'd parked the car, Vauxhall Zafira, MK1 with the 1.6) and there's a bridge that takes the cycle path over the A421, and I'd just graduated from training wheels and was whizzing along ahead of my family quite nicely. However I took the turn off the bridge and onto the down ramp far too quickly, the bicycle spat me off into a fence and I tore a small hole in my t-shirt (very annoyed about this, it was green and had a helicopter on it) and grazed my knee. I also scuffed up the grips on my little bike and was tremendously upset about it. Overall, a fairly good starting crash in my career of crashing. 3/5
Bridge over the A421
What; A Camel
Where; Somewhere in Northern Tunisia
When; Also a long time ago, circa 2007. Aged 9.
The next crash that springs to mind is when I crashed a camel into a very prickly tree in Tunisia. We were on holiday there and decided to go on a camel safari, and being quite tall they assumed I was older than I actually was so we dumped on a camel of my own. Which is quite a big responsibility for a 9 year old. And naturally I ended up crashing it. I believe it was a Dromedary Camel, so just the one hump, that lack of a second hump results in understeer, and is what I blame for the incident. That or the camel saw a tree that looked tasty and just bee-lined for that refusing to acknowledge any steering inputs from me. I got a few scratches and scuffs from the gorse and bad sunburn. Not a terrible crash, but quite exotic. 4/5
Camel into A Tree
Where; Hemel Hempstead, Dry Ski Slope
When; 2008 I think. So I would have been 10 because this was in the January?
This one is a doozy. All of them are, but this one more so because I had an accident with myself. I fell over skiing on the dry slopes at Hemel and one of my skis clattered into my arm and the resulting mess was a greenstick fracture to my ulnar in my left arm. I didn't collide with anyone else, or a pole, just cocked-up on my own and broke my arm. It ended up in a cast which was then modified with some strategic cuts so we could fly to Norway for a family holiday (Gosh this sounds so middle class). I ended up skiing for the season with my arm in a cast. Silly accident. Points detracted for blatant middleclassness. 2/5
The OutTakes of Ski sunday
What; A Honda ATC70
Where; The Yard
When; Don't know. It was cold and grey so not summer time. Maybe a November?
Another one where I managed to injure myself through lack of skill (noticing a theme?). This time in a low speed crash at my Dad's yard. I was riding around on a Honda ATC70, a small off road trike that was marketed as a toy by Honda in the 80's until it started killing and injuring people. We have about seven and a half of them in a variety of sheds and garages at home after I wanted a quad-bike party as many 11 year olds do, and Dad figured it'd be cheaper to go on eBay and buy a few of these than to rent some for the party. Somewhere in that process the eBay bug bit and we ended up with far too many in a variety of conditions. Anyhow, one weekend I was pottering around the yard getting a feel for one of the machines and picked up some wire mesh that had fallen off of the vent from the central heating boiler. As I did so I leant over to pick it up and adjusted the steering moving the trike closer to the wall, so as I picked up the mesh it collided with the wall and the sharp ends were driven into my wrist. Cue blood and tears. Points for gore, points lost for lack of speed or coolness. 3/5
Meshed that one up
What; A Quad-bike
Where; South Africa, a nature reserve near the coast
When; December 2010.
Another family holiday, this time to spend Christmas with my Mum's brother and his wife in South Africa. We were on a road trip along the Garden Route and had gone to spend the day at a nature reserve which I was very excited about because they offered a quad-bike safari. And this being South Africa I just lied and said I was old enough (being tall has its advantages) and Mum, Dad and I set off into the bush on some simply massive quads. I think they were 750cc Kawasaki bikes, and they were by far the coolest thing I'd ever ridden. Riding along on the sand and dust of the scrub I noticed you could get the rear wheels to kick up a bit of dust if you held the front brake and dumped the clutch, so we getting very into it all. And being rear wheel drive you could start to slide them around a bit. And so I nearly slid mine into a cactus. Very clever indeed. Didn't actually crash, but the adrenaline rush of nearly crashing was quite a kick and I think I've been subconsciously chasing that rush for some time now... I just hope my insurance company doesn't read this... Points for location and style. Deduction for lack of actual accident. 3/5
What; More Honda ATC70s
When; Multiple Occasions
So by now I'm a little older, but just as naive and think I'm an absolute boss on the little trikes. I can hang them out, sliding them around corners, pop small wheelies, and take jumps at tremendous speed. Barely a weekend back from school would go by without me getting them out and going up the fields to hoon around. If it snowed? Even better, these things would powerslide for days in the snow which for a kid of any age, even 22, makes you think you're the coolest person on the planet. However my talent always had a limit and this was explored several times. Once when I did some donuts on the road on one (naughty naughty, as they are not road legal). The bike was spinning well, and then it hit some clear tarmac, gripped and spat me off, much to my Dad's amusement.
Another accident happened when I was out playing with one of my friend's on our trikes. I was such a bad influence that I persuaded one of my friends from school that what he really needed was a brace of these death traps to race me on. And so one weekend we were haring around the Wakes (some big fields that belong to Grandad) and at the far end of the furthest field there's a big dip. I must have hit that dip at about 25-30mph and the resulting airtime was amazing and then swiftly painful. The small 70cc bikes do not have suspension like their older stablemates, so all the shock of the landing was transferred through the foam seat and into me. Somehow I stayed on, and kept on racing. Dedication that.
Another time Tom, for that is my friend's name, and I had just set out on a head to head race, one lap around the outskirts of the three fields, a do or die race. And I had a good start and was in the lead going past the old oak tree just after the first turn, a right hander, I'd taken a slower line and because this was summer the thick grass meant you knew about it, and so Tom caught me as I exited the corner lining up for the bus stop chicane around the oak tree (we took this very seriously and would lay out cones), and then Tom came over all Lewis Hamilton ala Brazil GP 2019, when Hamilton in desperation to pass Albon seemingly spun him out, Tom tapped the back of my trike and sped past as I was flipped off, with the bike tumbling over. He did stop to see if I was OK, which I was, and the bike was too. It was still running in fact, with the rear wheels turning uselessly as it lay on its back.
But the greatest of the trike crashes has to come from when we were mucking around later that same day, the field had been ploughed after harvest and there were giant ruts all across the surface, these were fun to try and ride along as the front wheel would drop into the furrow and the two rear wheels would struggle to sit on the ridges either side. It turns out that they struggle a lot, as this ammateur footage from my iPhone taped to the front of my bike shows.
If you turn the volume up, you can hear me groan as I land on the ground. Again.
So, all in; points for variety, evidence and sheer balls to ride something classified by the American government as unsafe. 5/5
What; A Horse called Romany
Where; The Stables, Wilstead
When; Upper Sixth, so 2015/16 I would have been 17 or 18.
I ride horses. I like riding horses. It's good fun, good exercise and an interesting way to see the world. Horses are phenomenally capable off road, enough so to put a Defender or Jimny to shame. But equally they are also minds of their own, and you've got to work with them to make progress. For a while I went to a riding school to learn how to ride. And in one lesson in the indoor arena I managed to crash a horse. Riding clockwise around the arena, I put too much pressure on with my right leg causing the horse to step slightly outwards towards the wall. Now I'm so close to the wall that my left knee connects with one of the metal uprights that supports the roof. A loud clang resonated throughout the arena and a bolt of pain shot through my leg. Thankfully nothing broken, but a bit of swelling. So yeah, I crashed a horse. Points for mild personal injury and novel method. 4/5
What; My Nissan Pixo
Where; Milton Keynes
When; 29th December 2016
There goes my insurance premium.
Picture the scene, I'm driving my then girlfriend, my Grandfather and an elderly family friend to the theatre in MK to see the Panto for my Mum's birthday. Every year we try to go to the panto on Mum's birthday, and this is my first Christmas back home from uni. To get everyone there we car share, and I ended up driving Grandad Ellis and Barbara. All was going well, and then out of nowhere a blue BMW X1 jumps out across the road and right across the front of my car. Bang. The crash is thankfully quite low speed as I managed to get on the brakes, but the damage is dealt. Pretty much all of it is square across the front of my car, cracked bumper and undertray, cracked license plate, bent bonnet, and dislodged headlamps. And behind all of that the radiator support, a thin stamped metal bar that ran between the front chassis rails is bent too. The damage to the BMW, is quite minor, a few scuffs and scrapes and the screw that previously held my license plate in place is now embedded in the black plastic trim of their rear bumper. Many months or arguing and haranging their insurance company resulted in them not claiming fault for the accident. But it wasn't deemed my fault either. Either way I lost my no claims, and my insurance premium went up. Not fun. Points for actually crashing in a car, points lost for low speed, loss of NCB and pride. 2/5
Pix(o) A Fight With Someone Your Own Size!
What; My Precious Jimny
Where; The A4 heading westbound out of Marlborough
When; 7th June 2018
It had been a successful day off roading across Wiltshire. I had covered many miles without touching tarmac, I'd gotten some good photos and was then heading on to another by-way to retrace an old Roman road. I'm on my way out of Marlborough to find my new site when a the Volvo V90 in front of me jumps on the brakes, I also jump on the brakes, but the brakes on the Jimny aren't pin sharp, and the tyres are caked in mud, so I'm not shedding speed enough, so I throw the steering left and veer towards the verge to try and avoid ramming into the back of the brand new swedish wagon. I don't quite swerve enough in enough time and clip the rear of the bumper with my front right fender. The damage administered to the Jimny is a dent and a scratch here or there. The damage to the Volvo, one dismounted rear bumper, I thought they were built better than that? This one was purely my fault, so details were exchanged and we went our separate ways. Deflated I returned back to my pad in Reading, but decided to swing by the car wash to clean the mud off and inspect the damage properly. And this is the fatal flaw. Instead of using the hand op jet wash like I usually do, I opted for the automatic one. Which manage to extend my aerial with the spinny things and then snap it off with the air blade drier thing. I was not impressed at all. Thankfully that was the last of the damage that my Jimny collected on that day. Points for having an actual crash, and some lost for more insurance pay outs and having to mend the aerial myself. 2/5
That's Not Gone Well
Thankfully I manage to not injure the Jimny massively from then onwards. It served me well in the snow, pulled a Mercedes SLK out of some mud, worked as a motorway mile muncher, took a beating when I jumped it over a hill outside Leeds, pulled a small tree off of a fence in my paddocks, and then finally it's good luck ran out. It developed an oil leak out of the gearbox rear seal, so it went into the garage up in Nottingham and was repaired, along with a new fan belt (which squeaks) and a set of rear shocks, as the bushings on the old ones were shot. I thought this would be the last of my problems with the Jim' for a while. But I was wrong.
I set out to go laning for a bit of fun, and it quickly turned from a late afternoon countryside romp into a nocturnal nightmare. This being November, it got quite dark rather early. So now I'm down a lane I don't know, in the dark and the conditions are far from favourable underfoot. The rain from the previous weeks had left a thick layer of sticky mud across the ground. Regardless and frankly, rather stupidly I battled onwards, until I could go no further down the lane. It was blocked by a giant puddle. A man came walking towards me out of the gloom with his dog and told me he wouldn't even dare to try that in his Defender. I got chatting to him about off roading and he went on his way, walking down the lane, in the direction I'd come in from. I spin the Jimny around and set off after him, the light fading more and more as the seconds passed.
I knew on the way in that there was a giant ditch and had avoided it at first, but on the return leg my tyres were clogged with mud and were little more than slicks, progress was tricky, and travelling in a straight line was demanding and required a lot of wrestling with the wheel. The out of the darkness the ditch loomed. I cut the wheel left to avoid it, and the front end didn't respond, I tried to brake to slow down and let the tyres regrip, despite only doing about walking speed to begin with. As a last minute attempt I tried to throttle steer the now out of control Suzuki to slew the back around and point the Jimny away from the chasm. That, unsurprisingly, didn't work. So I stood back on the brake pedal and wound on more lock. Still nothing and then a thud as the front end dropped into the hole, and then a second bump as the back end followed suit.
Now the entire right side of the car was in the ditch, even in low range with power going to the front and rear axles I wasn't going anywhere. I tried rocking the car forwards and back to build up momentum to at least get one end out. But that did nothing but cook the clutch. All the revving and probably the loudest exclamation of the eff-word north Leicestershire had ever heard drew the attention of the walker and his dog further down the trail. He turned back to see me climbing out of the passenger door of my stricken jeep. We both agreed that I was stuck and that even diff locks wouldn't do much to help. My road biased all terrains were slick with the brown stuff, and the the passenger side wheels were barely in touch with the ground. The bumper had taken the brunt of the impact on ditch entry and would later turn out to be more of a problem than initially thought, more on that later. Kindly the man offered to get his Defender and see if he could pull me out. By now the daylight had pretty much gone and we were going to do this by moonlight alone.
The second coming at the wheel of his Defender.
Perilously, he backed his Defender down the dark corridor of trees and I laid on the ground hitching his tow strap to one of my recovery points. I climbed back into my car, via the driver's side window earning myself a scratch from some brambles and tracking mud everywhere on the interior, before he lurched forward tugging at the stricken Suzuki. Nothing, we try again with me giving it more revs and pop, out I came. Our convoy continued to the end of the lane where I unhooked myself, and offered him a reward which he politely declined (I believe he may in fact have been Jesus given this level of selflessness and kindness). He hopped back in his Landie and went home, which was just over the road. I gave a kind pip pip on the horn and set off home with my tail between my legs.
As you can see, it was in quite a bit.
The damage the Jimny received here was largely aesthetic in that the exterior and interior were now coated in mud. As was I. But the problem ran deeper than that, I think it might have bent the front bumper back a bit and sheared a few of the plastic clips that hold the wheel liners in place, as sometimes when maneuvering at certain levels of steering lock, the wheels rub against the plastic, so much so that on the driver's side the wheel liner is wearing away. I do need to fix that... So, points for style and scale of cock up, points also for personal injury, and not needing to tell the insurance company about this. Points deducted for mild damage to front bumper, and massive damage to pride for needing a Land Rover to free the unstickable Suzuki. 4/5
What; My Suzuki, again.
Where; The roundabout on the A428 opposite the Lidl in Kempston.
When; Thursday just gone, 9th January 2020
And so onto my most recent of vehicular cock-ups. And potentially my most terrifying. Picture this, it's a dark early evening and its hammering it down with rain. I'm on my way to my girlfriend's house and in a bit of a rush because as a person I'm perpetually late. Now, there's something you need to know about the Suzuki Jimny, in normal 2WD the power is sent to the rear wheels, so you can have a bit of fun with the chassis if you're in the mood, and don't mind a bit of body roll. And the tyres are getting close to illegal now, I really need new tyres, so please buy my book and I can afford new tyres. Anyhow, its raining, I'm in a hurry, I'm in a short wheelbase rear wheel drive car. In fact, the wheelbase is nearly half a meter shorter than a BMW 1 series (F20). I'm quite used to pushing the Jimny, and how it reacts under throttle, but this time it behaved very differently.
As I matted the throttle and knocked it down to second the back end stepped out, and I gathered it with a dab of oppo' and held the slide through my exit and then mucked it up. I whipped my foot off the throttle and the small jeep snap fishtailed the other way, it's short wheel base making for a rapid direction change. And with the left hand lock still on the car lurched left towards the grass verge and armco. My next reaction was to stand on the brakes and just hope I could avoid piling my pride and joy into the barrier, coupled with some right hand lock. Now on the brakes and the front end loaded up, the tyres grip to the wet grass and mud and the car now pivots around the front end, so the back end is now hurtling around to the barrier. At this point I just keep my foot on the ABS juddering brake pedal and hope. I stall and the car thankfully stops somehow now with the front end on the tarmac and the rear on the grass. New underpants please.
The mighty Jimny starts up on the turn of the key, and we pull away with our tail, once again, between our legs. Scores please; well points for style, speed, execution, lack of damage and for it being a learning experience. No points lost as no damage incurred (apart from to my ego). 5/5 a perfect accident.
Round We Go
So, what crashes and accidents have you had? What's the most exotic thing you've had a prang in? What times have you run out of talent? Let me know in the comments.