Grant Roe, director of Costin Roe Consulting, is a competitive cyclist who completed the famous Haute Route Pyrénées race through the alps of south-western France in the European summer of 2013. Grant has made an astonishing recovery from serious injuries sustained in a catastrophic bike crash in Italy, just months ago, which prevented him from competing in another international Haute Route cycling event this year.
“I train year-round on my own and with members of the cycling clubs that I belong to in Sydney, and Central West New South Wales when I’m out that way on weekends. It was great to ride in the Haute Route Pyrénées and find that I was not only still capable of beating my own personal-best records, but still quite competitive against younger cyclists from all over the world,” Grant said at the time.
Gruelling 7-day alpine endurance race in August 2014
Soon after Grant’s Haute Route Pyrénées achievement, part of his 2014 vacation time was reserved to compete in the Haute Route Dolomites Swiss Alps 1st Edition, a gruelling 7-day cycling endurance race from Venice in Italy, to Geneva in Switzerland, held in August 2014. The Haute Route Dolomites is a 993km alpine road race involving a tremendously challenging and world-respected 20,350m vertical ascent.
Grant arrived in Conegliano, northern Italy, for pre-race preparations including warm-ups and testing the bike that he’d flown out from Australia and re-assembled in readiness for commencing the epic test of mankind and machine that is the Haute Route Dolomites.
Blown tyre at high speed causes near-tragedy
On the day prior to the Haute Route Dolomites starting gun being fired, while Grant was doing routine road-tests and warm-ups around Conegliano, near Venice, near-tragedy struck when sudden tyre failure caused his bike to crash at very high speed.
“I had only just put the bike together and taken it out for a routine test-ride. I’d been putting the bike through its paces for about thirty minutes. Everything seemed perfectly fine. Suddenly, just when I was going downhill and picking up a bit of speed, one of my tyres blew and the bike became airborne, catapulting me into the air. The bike landed away from me, with only minor damage, but unfortunately my body hit the deck at more than sixty kilometres an hour,” Grant recently said.
Surgical response to injuries
Landing hard at 60kph caused multiple injuries including a broken collar bone, broken femur (thigh-bone) and extensive trauma-related contusion on his right side. The next day, whilst elsewhere in Venice riders from 50 different countries were dashing off from the starting line of the Haute Route Dolomites in their colourful race livery, peddling uphill towards the Swiss alps and chasing dreams of a glorious arrival in Geneva, Grant Roe lay in a plain white gown under heavy sedation inside an Italian hospital following emergency surgery to save the structural integrity of his right leg and right shoulder.
Getting over the finish line, no matter what
Seven days of immediate post-operative recovery were required before doctors in Italy would release Grant from hospital. He was confined to a wheelchair but given permission to fly.
“I was still heavily medicated for pain when they wheeled me out of hospital after eight days but I had one clear objective in mind. I had come all the way from Australia to cross the finish line of the Haute Route Dolomites, and the moment they released me from hospital I realised I could still make the finish line if I wasted no time. With someone to care for me, as I couldn’t look after myself at all to begin with, I was wheeled onto a flight from Venice to Geneva, then wheeled across the finish line in Geneva. The crowds of race-fans had mostly dispersed by the time I rolled under the clock, but I managed to raise my good arm – my left one – as it was a victory in its own way. Just surviving the crash and symbolically crossing the finish line was a big win in this instance.”
Months of rehabilitation and intensive therapy
Flying back to Australia in a wheelchair as an accompanied ‘high-dependency’ disabled passenger was an eye-opener for Grant. “Costin Roe Consulting provides support to many charitable causes, and Wheelchair Sports is one of them. I’m encouraging everyone involved in sport and fitness to give generously to Wheelchair Sports. What happened to me in Italy on my holidays was a very strong reminder of how spinal injury, for example, can happen to anyone, no matter how fit they are, and when least expected.”
Grant Roe returned to executive duties almost immediately upon return to Australia, working from the ground floor of his home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, and using an electric wheelchair to navigate around Costin Roe’s offices at Walsh Bay, near Circular Quay, between physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions. “You have to admire Grant’s constitution and his commitment to our clients and the projects we’re working on,” said Wayne Costin, founding director of Costin Roe Consulting, about Grant Roe progressively graduating from wheelchair to crutches, and then walking stick, faster than any of his doctors or therapists had predicted. “Grant sets a fine example for everyone in our organisation,” Wayne said.
“I’ve still got two screws in my hip and a proximal femoral nail. At least they’re Swiss-made titanium and should be tough enough to cope with the punishment I’ll be giving them,” Grant said. “I’m determined to resume my normal training regime very soon and I will definitely race again.”