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Spinal Injury Forces Early Retirement

It started with a Disco in 2011. An On One Disco, not a dodgy Friday night in town disco. A quirk of fate involving a certain other Planet X team rider, Whernside in Yorkshire and a broken collar bone led to the pre-production frame ending up in my hands. Fully thought through carbon disc cyclocross frames were still filtering into the ‘cross market and Planet X and it's sister company On One had been quick to see the potential for the every-day cyclocrosser of powerful disc brakes allied to a fully specced carbon frame with good mud clearance. The debate still goes on in some circles around whether discs or cantilevers are better, but for those wanting a cracking value, do-it-all, ride-every-surface solution that doesn’t chew wheels when the weather turns bad, the Disco with its discs as well as its spiritual racing successor the XLS, are the crème de la crème.

Riding around on and reviewing the Disco morphed gradually over time into something a bit more concrete and I was chuffed to be absorbed into the Planet X stable. Riding, racing and reviewing all things ‘cross that came out of that little corner of Yorkshire. Even if I was based in Lancashire….

With fellow ‘cross enthusiast Dave Haygarth, whose original misfortune with his collar bone kicked off the whole journey, we combined muddy training sessions, road trips to races and our almost out-of-control obsessions with the 3 Peaks Cyclocross for the next 3 years. And so we continued, flying the iconic blue, red and white team colours, into the blue flowery Guru kit (I always had Dr Octagon ‘Blue Flowers’ as an earworm when wearing that) and into the striking yellow, black and red Flanders kit, up and down the country.

Until things came to a bit of a juddering halt for me in March 2014 when I broke my neck and back crashing whilst chasing the considerably more technically gifted Dave down a road descent during a ‘cross sportive event. The accident was, with hindsight, far more serious than I gave it credit for at the time, though I escaped without major life or quality of life-threatening injuries. Like most obsessives I just wanted to get riding ‘cross again and did so, racing 6 months later in early season ‘cross races. But there has been a long term impact, try as I might to ignore it. My horizons have changed, I am more cautious and fearful, and have the feelings of a nervous wife and children to consider too. Regular and serious road riding is out of the picture to appease the nerves of those around me, and the 3 Peaks has gone by the wayside as there are still significant daily aches and discomforts associated with the injuries that don’t fit well with the brutal and rocky nature of racing hard at that event.

Getting back to riding and a good level of fitness was always my goal and one that I achieved, with a few bumpy bits along the way. But I’m not able to do what I could do before, not just mentally but also physically. The interest in ‘cross racing is still there, albeit without the rocky extension round the Peaks but road riding has had to be replaced with fell running for fitness, particularly as prolonged periods on a bike are strangely harder on my neck and back than a run of decent length. And so it has felt for a little while that this is a timely point to step down from my activities at Planet X, to acknowledge that I can’t do what I would like to do riding-wise but remember fondly all the muddy and rocky experiences from the past 4 years.

It’s been an absolute pleasure talking, riding and racing ‘cross bikes with the PX team, and with Dave Haygarth as my fellow ‘crash test dummy’. Thank you.

Alan Dorrington

We at Planet X would like to take this opportunity to thank Alan for all his hard work over the years. We hope you will join us in wishing Alan all the best for the future.

6 May 2015

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