After neck-breaking cycling accident, Farmer hits the road again

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

THREE months ago, Lee Farmer's career was halted after he was knocked off his bike and left for dead during a practice session on the Frank Watson Highway. Over the weekend, he was back on the road competing again.

"I got my neck brace off about two weeks so and I started preparing for this," said Farmer as he made his return to the local scene this past weekend in the Bahamas Cycling Federation's National Cycling Championships around the western end of the island.

"I didn't expect to do as well as I did because I didn't feel I had the power back in my body, but I was quite pleased."

Surprisingly, Farmer got second in the 16-mile time trials on Saturday as he finished behind teenager Liam Holowesko and he also placed fifth in the gruelling 77-mile road race on Sunday in 3:27.46 as he came across the line in front of the Clifton Heritage Park in a pelaton with the top five competitors.

"I just trained pretty hard over the last two weeks," said Farmer about his preparation in such a short time for the nationals. "Once I got rid of the neck brace and the plaster on my hands and arms, I just went to work.

"I wasn't as strong as I would have liked to be. I just kind of hung in there. But it was good to be back out there and competing with the boys again."

The former national champion, who hails from New Zealand, said he thought his life was over after the accident.

"The people who came and saw me on the road literally thought that I was dead," Farmer recalled. "When I was on the side of the street, I didn't realise how bad it was. Not until I got to the hospital and they told me that I had broken my neck in three places that I realised that I was in bad shape."

All Farmer can remember from the incident was that a gentleman hit him from behind and he hit another car and it was "lights out." Farmer, however, said up to this day, he has no idea who hit him because the driver never stopped.

Bahamas Cycling Federation president Roy Colebrook said it was a miracle that Farmer was back on the scene competing again. "That was a tremendous recovery," Colebrook stated. "It just goes to show up the level of conditioning and the physical fitness that he had his body in. To do something like that was a significant feat. We watched as he was airlifted to the United States and to watch him come back and compete this weekend was remarkable."

Farmer warned local motorists to pay more attention to the cyclists when they are on the road training and even competing.

"We're flesh and bones. We're not made out of steel," he stressed. "We can get crushed, so just give us a little more space. I was out there on the bike on my own training. It could have been worse. I'm just glad that I survived."

Farmer thanked the Holowesko family and the BCF fraternity for the role they all played in his recovery.

He said he will forever be grateful. That was one of the reasons why he didn't want to miss the nationals, once he was given a clean bill of health by his doctor.

Colebrook said safety has always been the hallmark for their sport.

"We are always encouraging the motoring public to take due care and attention, slow down and give the cyclists the opportunity to continue on," he said. "We, in the cycling community, use all safety measures to try and prevent these types of accidents.

"But we want to encourage the motorists to share the road because we are licensed to be on the road too. These are persons who represent the country nationally. So just give us a chance and be patient. Nassau is only twenty-one by seven, so give us an opportunity to accomplish that what we have to do in a safe manner."

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