Track accidents won't stop Tony
FROM the corner of his eye Tony Mills glimpsed another rider at top speed falling down the steep track towards him.
A split second later the rider crashed into his bike.
It was at that moment he knew it was going to be bad.
The sickening crash at the Rockhampton Cup on Wheels last Saturday night stunned spectators who watched cyclist Tony Mills lying unconscious on the track at the Kenrick Tucker Velodrome.
The Rockhampton cyclist said the first thing he remembered was waking up in the back of the ambulance strapped down on a stretcher with paramedics holding him down.
“I remember going across town on a spinal board and a neck brace and I thought ‘God this is going to be bad’,” Mills said yesterday.
“It was pretty scary actually, because they were holding me down (in case of spinal injuries).”
While the 1600 metre wheelrace took off again about an hour after the accident, Mills was in hospital with bleeding to the brain, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, four stitches to his head and severe gravel rash to his face and body.
“I’m lucky to be alive, I suppose,” he said.
“Falling from that height at the top on the track, I could have broken my neck or anything because it’s on such a big slant,” Mills said.
“I hadn’t been to a race of that calibre for a long time, and you have all those riders from down south; you take all the risks and you see a little gap and you think you can do it.”
But the experience was all too familiar to Mills.
In 2007 he was in another cycling accident except it wasn’t a cyclist who hit him, it was a truck.
“I got knocked unconscious on the Yeppoon road. It was a double-lane road and we were allowed to be there,” he said.
“But I ended up in hospital with two fractured vertebrae and had to go into surgery for my face because it was cut up really bad.”
The Rockhampton Cup on Wheels was the first time Mills raced it in 15 years and was his first season of returning to the track.
But despite both his major crashes putting him in hospital, Mills said he will still cycle.
“I got back into cycling five years ago to help save my broken knee at the time, but now I have done my back and broken more bones anyway – all from cycling-related accidents,” he said.
“But I won’t give it up, I love it. This year I am training for road nationals in September.”