Telkom 94.7 Cycle Challenge
Mendes set for Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge a year after horror crash
Daryl Mendes will be at the start of Sunday’s 22nd edition of the Telkom 947 Cycle Challenge in Johannesburg a year after suffering near-fatal injuries.
The 48-year-old Boksburg resident cheated death while training on October 14 2017 when he was hit by a car whose driver ignored a stop sign, leaving him in a critical condition. He sustained a broken neck, back and jaw injuries and bleeding on the brain, not to mention a torn ear and eye damage.
He was treated on the scene before being transferred to Union Hospital, where he spent 12 days in the intensive-care unit, with doctors fearing the worst. Another two days in a high-care ward was followed by two weeks in rehabilitation.
When he awoke for the first time, his first words to his wife Alloutte were: “I must charge my battery [his bike had electronic gears] for the race.”
“I don’t remember the accident — all I know is my life was in somebody else’s hands,” said Mendes, who was a spinning instructor in his spare time when not working for his wife, who has given him the year off.
“It took six specialists, who said I’d never ride again, to put me back together.
“Alloutte was a pillar of strength throughout my stay in hospital and at home with me immobilised in bed.
“Without her and our four children and the unwavering support of family and friends, who knows, there could have been a different outcome. Life has given me a second round and I’m going to make the most of it.”
Mendes will ride the 100km Cycle Challenge on a tandem with his wife. “I’m not that good in the saddle, but hey, there’s no way I can miss being part of his day ,” said Alloutte.
All she recalls of the day of the accident is that it was a complete nightmare.
“I broke the speed limit getting to the hospital. Would he live crossed my mind.
“Hearing a neurosurgeon say eight out of 10 people don’t leave the ICU with such catastrophic damage to the body didn’t help. Once his condition started improving, it felt like we had started dating again … I made 53 visits in 28 days. He’s come through many challenges, as have I, from this incident … and we will definitely finish the race, that’s a given.
“You know what no-one tells you is how to handle the strain put on one when faced with what we as a family went through,” she said.
“I’ve had to educate myself in the medical field and feel a lot more confident assisting Daryl, like studying up on frontal lobe injuries that may cause increased irritability, which may include a change in mood and an inability to regulate behaviour.”
Mendes was part of the last 2017 race as a member of the lead car watching on as Daryl Impey claimed line honours. “I can say I’ve never missed any of the previous races,” quipped Mendez, “I’ve got the medals to prove it.”
As for the man who drove into him, there have been no hard feelings, says Mendes.
“He admitted he went through a stop sign. He has showed concern from the moment we impacted and has stayed in touch, wanting to know how I’m getting on.”