1000km ride home with broken leg

1000km ride home with broken leg

The Sydney rider who crashed in slippery molten tar on shoddy Mt Glorious roadworks on Tuesday rode 1000km home not realising he had broken his leg.

Former Kiwi Stephen Thomas, 69, says he has been riding since he was 15 and this was his first motorcycle crash.

He also says he saw the advisory 50km/h electronic speed sign and swears he was only going 50km/h when he lost traction in the front tyre of his 2011 Honda VFR800X Crossrunner.

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious - broken leg
Stephen’s crashed Honda

Treacherous roadworks

“That’s the worst roadworks job I’ve ever seen,” he says.

“It was treacherous. That is incompetency at its worst. You just can’t leave molten star on top of the road. It’s as simple as that.”

Queensland Main Roads says they are trying to source a “specialised contractor” to fix the road.

They expect repairs to be completed by the end of next week, “weather permitting”.

The roadworks feature sticky tar that is slippery even at 21C. Stephen admits it was about 30C when he crashed.

“I accept it was a warm day, but not a hot day. It wasn’t 45 degrees, so I didn’t expect to hit molten tar,” Stephen says.

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious - broken leg
Sub-par roadworks at Mt Glorious are a sticky mess tar

Riding on ‘ice’

“I saw the advisory sign and I went around the corner carefully, but the front wheel went into the soft tar and from then on I was like a passenger,” he says.

“It just felt like I was on ice. I thought I had a puncture in the rear tyre so I was just trying to slow myself down with the back brake.

“I didn’t even touch the armco barrier but at the last second the bike just fell over on my leg.”

Melting tar claims first crash victim Mt Glorious - broken leg
Steve’s crashed Honda

Local rider Alastair McDonald arrived on the scene and offered assistance and a rest at his house.

After some recuperation, Stephen decided to press on to Murwillumbah where he knows an orthopaedic nurse.

“She suggested an x-ray, but I thought that if anything was broken I would not be able to ride home,” he says.

“I still had my boot on which was effectively strapping it into position, so I decided to ride home.”

Broken leg

In Sydney today, he visited his doctor and had an x-ray.

“It turns out I’ve got a broken fibula (calf bone) and they couldn’t believe I’d ridden 1000km to get back to Sydney with a broken leg.

1000km ride home with broken leg
1000km ride home with broken leg

“My leg’s a bit sore and I have to get the bone manipulated and pinned tomorrow because it’s moved out of position.

“The annoying thing is I have the surgeon’s bill, hospital bill and whatever else and I will have to lodge an insurance claim and get a black mark against my name.

“That’s wrong because I had nothing to do with it.”

Damaged boots and bike

Stephen says he will need new boots and his bike has damage to a pannier, brake lever, crash bars and fairing. He estimates it will cost about $2500-3000 to repair.

He says he is a safe rider who always wear safety gear including RST adventure jacket and pants, a hi-vis vest and hi-vis helmet. His bike is also fitted with LED driving lights.

“l’m always so safety conscious, especially when riding by myself as there may not be anyone there to pick me up if I crash,” he says.

“I had no idea that corner was a hazard. I’d stopped to have something to eat at the Mt Glorious Cafe and didn’t talk to anyone so no one said to look out for that corner.

“I wasn’t in a hurry; it was just a beautiful day’s ride.”

Despite his crash, Stephen still says the road over Mt Glorious is the best he has ridden.

New roadworks on Mt Glorious broken leg
Mt Glorious is glorious if the roads are in good repair!

“It’s aptly named Mt Glorious,” he says.

“It’s the second time I’ve done that road. It’s the nicest road I’ve ever been on. It’s just beautiful.”

Stephen says he will contact Maurice Blackburn Lawyers to consider his legal options. Read their legal opinion about crashes in roadworks.

  • How far have you ridden with broken bones, not realising they were broken? Leave your comments below.

4 Comments

  1. I’d spent a bit of time attending an old mates funeral up Newcastle way, the previous day. Home was back in Melbourne. So it was to be an early night and an early start the next morning to go home.

    Woke up at 3.06 am. Didn’t get back to sleep quickly so did the necessaries, loaded the bike and rode it out from under the verandah of the motel units I stayed the night at, and then down the slope of the vacant allotment (old church site) adjacent the back of that unit.

    It’s dark. It’s early – 4.06 am. No one is around. The grass slope is covered with dew and the bush below the car park looms ominously. But the moon is full and bright. Can’t go too quickly. Must go really slowly. And that was S L O W. Careful on the front brake; no! make that very careful!

    Expletive deleted!!! Front wheel locked up and slid out from under the bike. High side? Not quite! Face plant? Too right! Expletive deleted again!!! Climb out from under the bike. Right ankle is really sore. Motor is running! Petrol leaking? Hope not! Left shin is sore. But I gotta get this bike up-right. How many people am I waking? All quiet now – engine has been killed.

    Unload rear pack; unload tank bag. Grab the handle bars and heave – ouch, that right ankle IS sore! but bike is vertical. Oh no! I’m on the wrong side . Side stand is on the other side. How-in-the-harry am I going to get on the left of the bike without it running down the hill into the bush without me? Carefully and deftly I maintain my grip on the front brake (lever), move around the front of the bike and kick the gear lever. Got it! It’s now in first gear. Some relief; at least it won’t run away on me now. Surf up? Don’t know about that, but the sweat certainly was! I’d layered up to cope with the expected cold down on the Southern Highlands: and Yass was tipped for a 2C low. Sydney was somewhere around 12-14C.

    Very, very carefully I continue the “ride” down the decline onto the sealed roadway at the back of the hostel/motel units, then, hobbling along, I carry the rear pack and tank bag from the stairs and re-load the bike. A quick visual of the bike, “adjust” the rear view mirror that was knocked about a bit, and the auxiliary lights and ride down the drive. All except my ankle and shin seem ok. Head out gingerly onto the Comenarra Parkway.

    All ok? seems so; hope so. And so the ride home started with a real “bang”. Don’t want, no! don’t need starts like this.

    Final outcome? Home in Melbourne at around 2.15 Friday afternoon then visited the doc. X rays of the ankle taken … and … Fibula broken in two places close to the ankle joint. Guess that explains heaps.

  2. In mid-2006 the Mt Glorious road had been resurfaced with razor sharp gravel, I & others managed slashed tyres out of it! They stripped that off then resurfaced again & that was around 11 years ago. Talk about shitty cheap ongoing jobs & contractors!

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