A teacher who flipped her handlebars and broke her collarbone after puncturing her front tire on a bike ride in the middle of nowhere has thanked a location app for quickly guiding paramedics to the scene.
Keen cyclist Adrian Ballard, 47, was enjoying an exhilarating ride along the top of Somerset’s Cheddar Gorge on a wintry day when the dramatic accident happened.
With a broken rib and collarbone, worried motorists stopped to help Adrian, but it was one man’s suggestion that they use the what3words app, which identifies a location within a three-metre radius, that he says saved the day.
Now a big fan of the app, which Adrian, from 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 there a lot longer and added 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 trips or if we go wild camping in remote areas.”
He added: “They know how to use it too, so we’re all a lot safer. It’s honestly a lifesaver.”
This was the first serious cycling accident Adrian had experienced.
He said: “I’ve always loved cycling, either alone or with the kids. We cycle regularly.”
He added: “It’s fun and good exercise. Up until the incident I cycled to work every day.”
But it was in January 2021, when he was traveling along Cheddar Gorge, that disaster struck.
He said: “I cycled from Wells to Cheddar Gorge by myself and I remember it being quite a cold January day.”
He added: “I climbed up a steep path near the road and I went as fast as I could to get the bike moving.
“I reached the top and started pedaling downhill at about 45km/h when out of nowhere I got a front tire puncture.
“When that happens, you can’t control the bike or brake effectively and I lost control completely.”
He added: “I drifted across the road and flipped on the front of my bike, landing on my back before bouncing and flipping on the front again.
“When I first landed on my back, I smashed the back of my helmet. If I hadn’t had it on, it 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 called an ambulance but we were in the middle of nowhere so someone suggested using what3words to help paramedics find us.
“I was lying there in agony and had no idea what the app was. I had never heard of it before but it got the ambulance to me within 30 minutes.
“I had one of the people call 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 broken collarbone.
He said: “I was sent home the same day but came back for a consultation on my broken collarbone, which I had surgery on a week later.
“Since then I have recovered.”
He added: “It was about six months before I got back on the 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 percent yet, but I hope to start riding regularly again soon.
“As soon as I got back on my feet and was fit again, I bought the exact same model of helmet because it saved my life and was only £25.”
He credits his 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 walking a lot since the accident to build up my strength 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 for a walk with my sons recently too and I made sure to give them the address in case anything happened.
“It’s valuable to have and use if you’re going on adventurous leisure activities, but it’s also a godsend during emergency rescues. It has given me a lot of peace of mind.”