A bike helmet, left smashed to pieces, was the only thing that prevented Holly Atkins from receiving serious head injuries when she collided with another cyclist at 50km/h.
Yesterday the 16-year-old, who broke her pelvis and cheek bones into several places, told Hawke's Bay Today she blacked out after the crash but has faint memories of the emergency services helping her. The accident during one of her usual Sunday training rides near Whanawhana at the weekend was her second, and most serious, bike accident.
It sparked a Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter callout that took her to Hawke's Bay Hospital in a serious condition. She now faces her second stint in a wheelchair with lots of physio and possibly dental work before she gets back on her bike - something she yesterday said she was already beginning to miss.
Holly spoke quietly, occasionally breaking out in a muted laugh; the right side of her face, which she said gets sorer as the swelling goes down, still looking tender.
She remembered going down a hill when her cycling group split at an intersection. Some went left, others went straight.
"I decided to go straight to find out which way my coach had gone," she said. "As I was biking across the intersection, still going about 50 kilometres per hour, another cyclist came around the corner and just wiped me out.
"I just saw this blur of a cyclist and it was, wham, into the side of my face.
"It was really painful, my helmet is broken into six parts ... It was pretty much the only thing that saved me from some serious head injuries," she said.
"I wasn't really sure what was going on. I'm allergic to morphine, and the only thing I could tell the ambulance officer when he was talking to me was 'I'm allergic to something starting with M'. Luckily they had alternative pain relief."
Between her two accidents, the young Hastings Girl's High pupil has been showing promise in her cycling, progressing from G grade up to C grade within the Ramblers Cycling Club.
"It's a bit gutting ... it has been five months of hard work to get into C grade. I was just getting up there, I was [in my] first year under-19s, so it was an okay first year."
Holly's previous accident occurred when her biking group turned into a headwind, and she was late to put her brakes on. That time she broke the right side of her pelvis.
"I didn't enjoy the wheelchair last time, but I suppose this time I will be much better at it. It's the best way so I can get back to school and normal stuff easier."
Despite the knocks, she is already longing to get back on her bike, which she says "luckily" suffered few scratches.
"It hasn't really put me off, I'll just be being careful for awhile. I like the excitement, the adrenaline and the competitiveness. It's quite exciting trying to get better, and you start to beat people that you never thought you could beat."
Taking one step at a time, she has begun using the monkey bar in her hospital bed to help her move, and she can slightly bend her right knee. She will remain there for a couple more weeks.
"It helps being quite fit, [I] noticed that I'm already starting to get a lot more movement back in my limbs."
Magazines, visitors, and more than 100 notifications on her Facebook page are helping her pass the time, and on the way in, her visiting grandfather shared his advice, for his accident prone granddaughter. "I tell her to take up rugby," he said. "It's safer."A former Hawke's Bay couple struck by a 4WD vehicle while cycling near their home west of Taupo seven days ago are still in Waikato Hospital recovering from their injuries. David Joyce, 51, and wife Sirpa Lajunen, 49, formerly of Havelock North, were late yesterday in a stable condition.