Shropshire & Staffordshire Blood Bikes operate 365 days a year and this is through the dedication of our super volunteers. Below is a story, retold by SSBB Member Paul C, about one fateful night last winter whilst on duty for our charity
And suddenly…I was awake, the shrill tone of the telephone having stirred me from my dormant slumber. As I fumbled for my pen and notepad, the dulcet tones of my Phil S, my Night Controller started to etch themselves into my consciousness.
It was of course an urgent hospital run for SSBB – after all, who else would be calling as this ungodly hour I thought? As I took instruction from my controller, I noted that the clock hands were creeping their tired way towards 1am… and as my eyes fell towards the light covering of Winter frost creating delicate patterns on the trees outside the window, I knew that this would be an interesting ride.
Having layered up in warm clothing, Joanne (my Honda ST1300 Pan-European Blood Bike) was fired up and thrust into action. Ahead of her was a 40 mile ride to collect urgent samples, to be taken directly to a 24 hours pathology lab at another hospital.
As we made it onto the Motorway, I started to feel the chill of the night air filtering between my gloved fingers…time for the heated grips methinks!
One hour later and the collections was on board a good but chilly ride, but seeing the on-board digital thermometer dropping from 0 to – 2 degrees necessitated extra-vigilance toward the ever present danger of black-ice, (the Motorcyclists worst nightmare)…”Keep it smooth Paul, no sudden movements or braking and you will be ok”
As I rounded a bend on the main road ahead, a fluorescent diversion sign came into focus, informing me that the road ahead was closed. The diversion would send me on a 22 mile detour around country roads and backtracking on where I had already been. This was definitely not welcome at gone 2am on a cold weekday morning!
And so it came to pass that it was time to rely upon my inbuilt compass, after all it has seen me right in the past… ‘so what if I were to take that country road over there…looks to be heading in the right direction’.
‘Joanne’ and I set about our task with enthusiasm, heading into the murky unknown with High-Beam cutting a swathe between the frost-bitten open fields as we passed through hamlet after deterred hamlet.
It was then then I felt it…not sure quite what it was, but something was definitely not feeling right with Joanne. A strange vibration resonated through the very core of the machine and the rear of the bike started to sway rhythmically in a controlled, but nonetheless worrying fashion.
I stopped at the very next Hamlet…a ramshackle collection of three small cottages and one dimly-lit lamppost which afforded the only luminescence in the all pervading darkness of the night.
It was clear to see, the rear tyre had picked up a puncture and deflated in the same way as my spirit, having now found myself in the middle of…Where I had not got a clue? No road number, name of village or even a point of interest, just three parked cars covered with Frost and my lamppost for company!
Thank goodness for Mobile Phones…it could have been worse, supposing I hadn’t a signal? As It was, I got through and was happy to have the telephone answered by my Controller to whom I extolled my tale of woe.
Despite the hour, the breakdown service was called and the Hospital advised, all with a minimum of fuss. My only issue was determining my location for the recovery man, but with the help of the telephone GPS and a patient operator, we managed to work this out, or at least so we hoped!
It was a cold and lonely 1 1/2 hours waiting for recovery and lid, gloves and all other attire kept firmly about my person to combat the cold as best as possible.
With Bike and rider finally mobile via the recovery low-loader – the driver kindly agreed to divert via the Hospital Path Lab en-route home – meaning that this was the first and only delivery made by SSBB from the back of a low-loader!
Arriving home finally at around 4am, Joanne was put to bed in the garage to await a new set of boots in the morning, followed swiftly by me, keen to snuggle up under the warmth of the covers.
All in the life of a blood biker eh!