Just two weeks after Irish cyclist Seán Nolan (20) came off his bicycle, after it appears ‘a trap’ was set in a forest, he says he has been able to step onto a bike again.
Seán, who is a member of the EvoPro Racing team, landed on a tree stump and suffered fractured bones in two different vertebrae and four broken ribs.
He said if he had landed a couple of centimetres in another direction, he could have damaged his spinal cord and possibly been paralysed.
Speaking from his home near Slane he said: “I am surprisingly good. I even stepped up on my bicycle today for the first time since it happened, to ride around the house for just a minute. It was brilliant but it was by no means training. I literally just stepped over the bike to ride up and down the driveway. It is one small milestone.”
Seán came off his bike as he did training laps in Townley Hall woods near Drogheda, county Louth on Friday July 22.
When his dad went to investigate exactly where it had happened, he found a length of rope that had been placed between two trees suggesting that a ‘trap’ had been set.
Seán suspects someone was watching him and placed the rope on purpose.
“It is one of the first times I have been scared: I was not able to breathe and I have never damaged my back before.”
“Now it is just really nice to be on the mend and to know it is getting better and I am going to be grand. I am super lucky, really lucky I didn’t do something worse.”
After he shared his experience he was contacted by many people and heard that in England, Scotland and Wales people have found wires or ‘traps’ across some trails, and “it is not as rare as we think.”
Given what he has learnt he fears, “it is only a matter of time until somebody is killed by it. I think if enough of these traps are put up, it is only a matter of time.”
He says he would go back to Townley Hall but would find it hard to forget what happened to him there.
He says there have been trails for mountain biking in Townley Hall for over forty years and to ban cycling there, “would be terrible.”
Seán would like to see mountain bikers and Coillte working together to create segregated trails for bikers in Townley Hall similar to those at Ticknock, Dublin.
Both Coillte and the Gardai have launched investigations into the incident. A spokesperson for Coillte said it does not operate or authorise any mountain biking trails at Townley Hall.
‘Townley Hall is a very popular recreational forest for locals and visitors to the area. Coillte do not operate or authorise any mountain biking trails at Townley Hall.’
The spokesperson explained that, ‘for any activity other than walking in our forests a licence must first be obtained. The primary purpose of the licence is to ensure the activity can take place safely and enjoyably with the safety of all the users of our forests at the centre of the process. Coillte has no licensed mountain bike activity in our forest at Townley Hall.’
A Garda spokesperson said, “Gardaí are making enquiries into this incident and investigations are ongoing.”