“I was airlifted to hospital, in so much pain I couldn’t move”

Posted on: January 7th, 2016

Beth McLuskey will start as one of the favourites when she toes the line in Sunday’s national cyclocross championships. The former national mountain bike champion will face some stiff competition but just to be cycling at all, she’s endured a whole lot more than anything she’ll face this weekend (Photo: Toby Watson)


By Brian Canty

Less than 18 months ago she was lucky to escape with her life after colliding head-on with a jeep while descending a fire road at Alpe d’Huez.

But Beth McCluskey’s recovery since then has been nothing short of startling.

Doctors feared she might never recover, such was the severity of her injuries.

But not only has she come back, she feels as strong as ever and is rightly regarded as one of the favourites for Sunday’s National Cyclocross Championships in Tollymore Forest Park, Co Down.

“It’s brilliant that I’m being talked about as a favourite, I can’t believe it,” she said.

“It has surpassed all my expectations. I was badly injured in a mountain bike crash 18 months ago and I was airlifted to hospital.

“I was in quite a bad state for a long time afterwards and I thought my cycling days were over.

“So to be racing and to be a favourite is so fantastic for me personally and I’m truly thrilled to be on the start line,” she added.


McCluskey definitely has the class and the form to put in a big show this weekend.


Of that horror high-speed collision she recalled: “My partner Geoff and I were coming down a hill and there was a jeep was coming against us.

“He just came flying around a corner and there was nowhere for me to go except straight into him.

“I was in agony and had to be airlifted to Grenoble Hospital where I stayed for a few days.

“It was an awful experience lying there not knowing how bad the injuries were and I was in so much pain I couldn’t move.”

Her injuries, when she was eventually told, were as severe as they were wide-ranging.

“It was mostly abdominal injuries, multiple haematomas in my liver, spleen, pancreas and my core muscles were destroyed.

“I had terrible abdominal swelling and looked look months pregnant for months afterwards.

“My hip, ribs, neck, back and hands all had massive soft tissue damage.


McCluskey has been an international off-road rider and will put up a huge challenge for the title this weekend.


“The doctor reckoned my strong core saved me from breaking my back or hip but I lost all control of my core for months afterwards.

“I was in constant pain and had to sleep on my back for months but I had an amazing physio (Nessa Smyth in Blackrock) who worked me so hard to get me back to normal and back on the bike.”

She’s made an amazing comeback to life and indeed competitive cycling in that time.

“I’m stronger now than I was before the accident and I have so many people to thank for that.

“I’m still not 100 per cent; my right hip, left shoulder and left thumb still give me bother but nothing that’s holding me back at the races.

“It was an awful experience but it’s made me appreciate everything so much more now, so whatever happens Sunday is a bonus.”

We’ll have a full preview of all races before Sunday’s big showdown.