Cycle safe: Driver's wrong turn threatens pro career

By Andrew Koubaridis

Young cyclist reviews options after crash with car leaves
him with ongoing injuries.

Hardy Michel wants drivers to be more aware of cyclists after his painful encounter with a car last July. Photo / Natalie Slade
Hardy Michel wants drivers to be more aware of cyclists after his painful encounter with a car last July. Photo / Natalie Slade

It was two seconds of indecision and bad judgment from a driver - but it may have cost a promising young cyclist his career.

Hardy Michel was hit by a car at Wairau Park on the North Shore last July when it pulled out suddenly in front of him.

The 20-year-old was riding at about 40km/h and said he "had no chance to brake whatsoever". He hit the wing mirror, flew over the car and landed on concrete 2m away.

There were two lanes in each direction and he was in the left-hand one about 100m after the lights at the Tristram Ave intersection when he noticed a car starting to pass him on the right-hand side.

"[The car] starts to pass me and draws level to me and as it does so I caught one flash of a left indicator - and just as that happens they turn straight in front.

"I hit the driver's door panel, my bike went under the car and I went over the windscreen ... I body-slammed the ground on my left hip and basically did a WWE move on to the concrete."

Lying on the ground in pain and in shock, the driver and her partner came towards him and told him "you were supposed to stop".

"They didn't realise how quickly I was going ... They didn't deny not seeing me."

Interactive graphic: NZ cycling crashes 2008-2012

Police investigated the accident and Mr Michel believes the driver was fined. Their insurance company also met the repair bill for his $6500 bike.

After finishing school Mr Michel went to Australia where he secured a contract with CharterMason Drapac, one of Australia's top domestic cycling teams and what hopefully was a pathway towards turning professional.

Although he wasn't on a salary the equipment, gear and travel were paid for and he had access to team infrastructure. "For a 20-year-old meant to be getting into your prime it's kind of frustrating ... six months down the track I'm still having to deal with it."

The specialist diagnosed Deep Gluteal Syndrome, a form of "blunt force trauma to the glutes", an injury which leaves him unable to sit for longer than 90 minutes or he loses feeling in his left leg. He now needs further treatment to try to fix the problem.

Mr Michel is telling his story not to create further division between cyclists and drivers but for awareness.

"I hope it makes people think. I was pretty bitter at the start, I really struggled with it, that this has been taken away from me."

He will now concentrate on finishing his degree in business information systems as he can only cycle for one to two hours a week without aggravating the injury,

"I'll focus on finishing university [and] once I've got job security hopefully will work way my back into cycling."


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- NZ Herald

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