ONE of south Essex’s best cycling road racers is aiming to boost the coffers of the county’s Air Ambulance as a way of saying thanks for saving his life.
Chafford Hundred’s Ben Lamb, 18, was almost killed in a horrendous accident in September which left him pinned underneath a van on a remote road between Bulphan and Upminster.
Lamb, who was just 17 at the time, had his right leg broken in two places, his hip and pelvis smashed he and was drifting in and out of consciousness before first an ambulance crew treated him and then the Air Ambulance took him to the emergency department at Romford Hospital and then on to the Royal London Hospital trauma unit.
The Grays Woodview Campus student is one of the south east’s brightest road racing hopes having won major criterium events in Eastbourne last summer, blitzed the Simon Hook memorial race in north Essex and bagged a fifth overall in the prestigious Vurste race in Belgium.
But he admits that he did fear for his competitive future after the accident.
He said: “When I came to I knew I was in trouble. I was underneath a van. I had to bang on the side because nobody knew I was there.
“I do remember just trying to wiggle my toes because I’d heard somewhere that if you can wiggle them you might not be paralysed.
“I suppose I was drifting in and out of consciousness because the next thing I remember was being in the helicopter and then waking up in hospital.”
His right leg was broken in two places, he had four breaks in his pelvis, which are now held together by screws, while a full length rod supports his right leg from his knee to ankle.
Despite his injuries, Lamb — who lives with his parents Janet and Russell at Drake Road — could not wait to get out of hospital and get back on the road.
He said: “They did all the work in one big operation at the Royal London and as soon as I woke up I wanted to get out of there,” added Lamb, who spent eight days in hospital.
“They let you out when you can claw your way along a corridor and up a flight of stairs. So the first thing I was doing was trying to get out. There’s nothing more boring than looking up at the same hospital ceiling day after day.”
Soon afterwards Lamb’s college friend Michael Stair, 17, from Grays, mentioned that the Air Ambulance was organising a London to Paris bike ride to boost funds — and that the 300-mile event culminated with a ride into Paris to coincide with the end of the 2013 Tour de France. And Lamb and Stair cooked up a plan to do the ride as a way of saying thanks to the Air Ambulance.
“It’s the least I can do,” Lamb said. “So many people, from the helicopter people to all the doctors and surgeons and physios, have helped me get better that I can’t think of a better way to say thanks. And I get to see a bit of the Tour too!
“When it comes down to it I was lucky to be alive. They’ve all helped put me back together. I know lots of road racing stars — even Bradley Wiggins — are knocked off their bikes, so I know I can get back to full fitness.
“It’s still weird to look at the bag of broken bits in my parents’ garage that used to be my £7,000 racing bike,” added the Wilier-sponsored youngster who currently rides in the Thurrock-based Gateway Cycling colours. Lamb is still doing regular physio sessions at Orsett hospital and also with well known sports Benfleet physio Nigel Kimpton.
He knows his progress has got to be relatively slow. Lamb was allowed on his turbo trainer (static bike) a few weeks after coming out of hospital, but it took much longer to get back on a full road bike and back on the Tarmac for real.
And he did this alongside cycling mentor Chris Edwards from Grays, who took him out for his first ride.
“To be honest it was so difficult walking around because of my leg that it was almost a relief to get back on the bike,” Lamb said. “Chris was one of the people that had introduced me to cycling, so he came and had a short pedal around with me.
“Funnily enough, I was not worried about being back on the road at all. And pretty soon I was being told off for doing too much. I was not supposed to do rides of over an hour and I pushed it and did three hours. The physios said that they’d take my bike away if I did that again.”
The Chafford lad says that he still has physical issues that he is working on, adding: “Because of the damage to my right leg the muscles around the knee are still weak and my leg flaps around a bit and can hit the bar.”
But those in the know believe that he will make a full recovery.
If you want to contribute to Ben Lamb and Michael Stair’s Air Ambulance ride go to: www.justgiving.com/benmikelondon2paris