How no-warning carbon wheel failure wiped out top pro cycling coach

Posted on: June 11th, 2019

Neal Henderson crashed out cycling when his carbon wheel failed with no warning while he was riding at 30mph. He was knocked out and said but for his helmet he may not have come through the crash.

Leading international coach Neal Henderson has been getting the best out of some of the world’s top professional cyclists for years.

Irish readers may know his name from pieces stickybottle has published in recent years on the training undertaken by Sam Bennett, just one of Henderson’s many charges.

However, in recent days Henderson has been laid up injured, though ultimately counting his blessings.

His story is a cautionary tale for those who choose not to wear a helmet out on the bike, even if not compulsory in Ireland.

Henderson crashed very hard and with no warning while training in the US last Friday.

And while he’s nursing some nasty injuries, he suspects he would have died but for the protection offered by his helmet.

“Without any warning, while riding straight – no braking or turning – the rear wheel of my bike failed catastrophically and I was thrown forward to the ground at over 30 miles per hour,” he said.

Henderson’s deep section carbon rim cracked right through, whipping him hard down onto the tarmac.

His rear wheel rim failed with no prior warning at all. He recalls riding on a straight road and then there’s a gap until he’s being check into A&E
Neal Henderson has highlighted his case as he believes his helmet save him from a very serious injury, or even worse; a cautionary tale…

“I was knocked unconscious in the crash and my memory restarts mostly as I was getting checked into the ER,” Henderson added of being taken to Boulder Community Hospital.

“Fortunately the head CT didn’t show any skull fractures or brain bleed, though I definitely suffered a concussion, laceration and a few stitches above my right eye.

“I have lots of road rash and contusions on my knees, butt, back, and elbows,” he said, adding a fracture and chip to bones in his left elbow had also been spotted during X-ray.

Because of the impact his head took and the concussion he suffered, he has been told to limit his exposure to screens to allow his brain the rest it needs to heal.

Henderson suffered concussion, required stitches, suffered a bone fracture and chip and needs to take precautions to allow his brain recovery

Henderson told stickybottle his helmet had broken on hitting the road. He feared he may not have come through it such was the force of impact during the sudden crash at training speed.

He was training with his APEX Coaching group, two of whom he said had come to his aid when he really needed it; top US triathlete Taylor Knibb and pro cyclist Julie Emmerman.

Details of his case have emerged just days after the publication of new research on cycling crash injuries treated in Irish hospitals.

Some 27 per cent of cyclists wearing a helmet had suffered a head injury, compared to 52 per cent of those not wearing helmets.

In total, 410 cyclists were admitted to Irish hospitals with major trauma from road traffic crashes during the three-year period 2014-2016.

Twelve of the cyclists whose cases were captured in the research died. All 12 had suffered head injuries.