Brake failure on the descent of one of Britain’s most notorious mountain passes: a cyclist’s worst nightmare.
Yet this is exactly what happened to Vivienne Sherry whose story features on this weekend’s episode of Emergency Helicopter Medics, on More4.
Ms Sherry, of Preston, Lancashire, was taking part in a cycling challenge on Sunday 12 May which involved 114 gruelling miles around the Lake District, Cumbria.
100 miles into the journey, Ms Sherry reached Hardknott Pass, renowned for being one of the toughest cycle routes in the UK.
The 36-year-old said: “I remember it being so steep that I actually had to get off my bike and walk for some of it.”
But Ms Sherry, who was taking part in preparation for an Ironman competition later in the year, began to quickly pick up speed as she descended and found herself screaming for people in front to get out of her way as she realised something was amiss.
She said: “I pressed my brakes, and nothing happened. I just wasn’t slowing down.
“I didn’t make the corner and ended up hitting a rock and coming off my bike, landing in a gulley.
“I was lying on the ground just looking up at the sky and I could hear my friend screaming. She told me not to move while she ran for help.”
It was not long until the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was on scene. She said: “I can remember the air ambulance coming for me – they were with me very quickly and they were great.”
GNAAS airlifted Ms Sherry to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where she discovered that although the cuts and grazing to her body were extensive, she had miraculously sustained no serious underlying injuries.
She said: “The worst thing was that I had took so much skin off all over my body. My arms are still a bit of a mess from the accident, but you can’t have everything, and I feel really lucky.”
After leaving hospital, Ms Sherry went to stay with her mum and sister for a month as she couldn’t manage to do anything for herself. She said: “I couldn’t even get dressed. Four weeks later I managed to go back home once my bandages were off.
“When I had to get my bandages changed and cleaned it was just awful and so painful.”
Just three weeks after her accident, Ms Sherry was back on her bike although she could only manage a mile due to the pain.
She said: “I was in tears, but I tried my best to get back on. It’s been a mental struggle as I worry that I might fall back off and wonder if it will happen again. It makes me nervous but hopefully it will settle down soon.”
Emergency Helicopter Medics is on More4 at 9pm on Sunday. It is then available All 4, Channel 4’s on demand service.