A collision between his mountain bike and a tree means West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O'Connor won't be clocking up airpoints anytime soon.

O'Connor, 59, has been grounded after breaking several ribs and puncturing a lung in a crash at the Kaiteriteri mountain bike park just over a fortnight ago.

"I clipped a tree and ended up hitting another one ..." he said today. "Like any good wallops you lose your breath for a while, but I got it back which is always pleasing."

He picked himself up, rode about 20 minutes back to his car, then - rather than visit a doctor - went for a swim in the sea.


When he got home his sister-in-law, an emergency department consultant visiting from Australia, kept an eye on him, he said.

"I figured out if I was going to keel over, she was going to save me ... I had some good pain killers and some medical oversight."

Three days later, an X-ray confirmed he had three or four broken ribs, a punctured lung, "and a little bit of pneumonia".

He was banned from flying, which meant getting to the Labour Party caucus last week took him about nine hours rather than three hours from his Motueka home.

"I had to drive, take the ferry, drive to the Wairarapa for our caucus."

He had no idea how long he would be grounded.

"Luckily typing and talking doesn't require a huge physical exertion, although laughing and coughing does. Someone did make the cruel comment that I was still able to exude hot air."

The long-time mountain biker said it was probably the worst accident he had had on his bike.


"It will teach me to be a better rider. I might slow down just a little bit...

"It's a good challenging track. There's no excuse for not taking a bit more care."

O'Connor said he wouldn't give up mountain biking, but had canned his plans to compete in next month's 35th Buller Gorge half-marathon.

When Parliament resumes next month he would have to travel to Wellington by ferry, rather than take a quick plane trip across Cook Strait, he said.

- Westport News