A teacher who flipped over his handlebars and broke his collarbone after puncturing his front tyre on a cycle ride in the middle of nowhere has thanked a location app for swiftly guiding paramedics to the scene.
Keen cyclist Adrian Ballard, 47, was enjoying a bracing ride along the top of Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge on a winter’s day when the dramatic accident happened.
Suffering a broken rib and collarbone, concerned motorists stopped to help Adrian, but it was one man’s suggestion that they use the what3words app, that pinpoints a location to a three metre radius, that he says saved the day.
Now a huge fan of the app, which Adrian, of Wells, Somerset, uses regularly so his teacher wife Veronica Ballard, 45, and their children George, 15, and Henry, 12, know where he is when he goes cycling, he said: “If we hadn’t used what3words, I could have been lying there for a lot longer, adding hypothermia to my injury list.
“I am now an active user and tell all my friends and family about it.
“I use it to share my location with my wife when my sons and I go on long hikes, or if we go wild camping in remote areas.”
He added: “They know how to use it too, so we are all much safer. It’s honestly a lifesaver.”
This was the first serious cycling accident Adrian had experienced.
He said: “I’ve always loved cycling, either by myself or with the kids. We go cycling regularly.”
He added: “It’s good fun and great exercise. Up until the incident, I would cycle to work every day.”
But it was in January 2021, as he travelled along Cheddar Gorge, that disaster struck.
He said: “I was riding from Wells to the Cheddar Gorge by myself and I remember it being quite a cold January day.”
He added: “I was climbing up a steep path near the road and I was going as fast as I possibly could to get the bike to move.
“I reached the top and started peddling downhill at about 45mph when, out of nowhere, I had a front tyre puncture.
“When that happens, you can’t control the bike or brake effectively and I just completely lost control.”
He added: “I drifted across the road and flipped over the front of my bike, landing on my back before bouncing and flipping again onto my front.
“When I first landed on my back, I smashed the back of my helmet. If I hadn’t had been wearing it then that would have been my skull and I would have died.”
Unable to stand, Adrian managed to push himself onto his back as motorists stopped to help him.
He said: “One of them rang an ambulance, but we were in the middle of nowhere, so someone suggested using what3words to help the paramedics find us.
“I was lying there in utter agony, having no clue what the app was. I’d never heard of it before, but it got the ambulance to me within 30 minutes.
“I got one of the people to ring my wife and she drove with our sons to meet me at the hospital.”
Adrian was taken to Somerset’s Yeovil District Hospital, where he discovered he had suffered a broken rib and collarbone.
He said: “I was sent home the same day, but returned for a consultation on my broken collar bone, which I had surgery on a week later.
“Since then, I have been recovering.”
He added: “It was about six months before I got back on a bike, but I’ve mainly been walking and running for exercise.
“The recovery process has been very, very slow and I’m still not 100 per cent yet, but I’m hoping to start cycling regularly again soon.
“As soon as I got back on my feet and was fit again, I purchased the exact same model of the helmet, because it saved my life and only cost £25.”
He credits the helmet, helpful motorists and the what3words app for saving the day.
He said: “I can’t believe I’d never heard of it before, but I wouldn’t be without it now.
“I’ve been doing a lot of walking since the accident to build my strength up and I’ve been on a couple of wild camping trips. I always give my wife my what3words address so she knows where I am.”
He added: “I went walking with my sons recently too and I made sure to give them the address just in case anything happened.
“It’s valuable to have and use if you’re going on adventurous leisure pursuits, but it’s also a godsend during emergency rescues. It’s given me a lot of peace of mind.”