Bacon’s Bites: I love motorbike sport, but boy does it suffer cruel twists of fate

Former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden who died in Italy after a cycling accident. Photo: PA

Former MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden who died in Italy after a cycling accident. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

I’ve long been a fan of motorbike sport.

Many of you will know I report on the Ipswich Witches speedway team, and I have enjoyed watching lots of motocross around Suffolk and Essex and certainly enjoyed many a MotoGP and Superbikes on our television screens.

But motorbike sport can be heartbreaking.

So many terrible events have gone on this week that it’s difficult to know where to start, or get your head around much in the world today.

So, while the death of former MotoGP and current World Superbike star Nicky Hayden, at just 35 years old, was obviously far from the only tragedy these past seven days, it was a huge blow to lovers of motorbike racing.


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Hayden didn’t die on track, however. He was killed after being involved in a crash with a car while cycling.

The American suffered “serious cerebral damage” after colliding with the car on the Rimini coastline in Italy last week.

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What a shocking way for him to die after all the years he spent racing ‘on the edge’ at 180mph around motorbike circuits of the world.

Leigh Adams (on bike) with Ryan Sullivan (second left), Scott Nicholls (second right) and Billy Jan

Leigh Adams (on bike) with Ryan Sullivan (second left), Scott Nicholls (second right) and Billy Janirro (right) at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich. Adams was left in a wheelchair after a motobike accident in his native Australia - after more than 20 years racing speedway. Photo: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Stephen Waller

Hayden, who was nicknamed the ‘Kentucky Kid’, after his place of birth in the States, had competed for Honda in the World Superbike Championship in Italy on May 14. His cycling accident was just three days later.

He will always be remembered for ending Valentino Rossi’s five-year winning MotoGP streak in 2006 following a dramatic final race in Valencia where Hayden’s third place finish sealed the title for him.

For him to die in a cycling accident seems unreal.

In the past few years speedway has suffered its fair share of cruel twists of fate.

Leigh Adams rode speedway for 20 years in England, Europe and across the world.

I interviewed him a number of times and the no-nonsense Aussie was always a class act both on and off the track. He retired from the sport and left England in 2010 with his young family to a fanfare of well-wishers as he settled back in his native Australia.

But just a year later Adams, often referred to as the best rider never to win the world crown, entered the Finke Desert Race in Australia’s Northern Territory near Alice Springs.

Tomasz Gollob, relaxing in the pits during his days with Ipswich Witches. Today Gollob is recovering

Tomasz Gollob, relaxing in the pits during his days with Ipswich Witches. Today Gollob is recovering in Poland after a serious motocross accident. - Credit: Archant

On June 6, while on a training ride, he crashed his bike and sustained multiple injuries including fractured vertebrae and extensive spinal cord damage.

It has left him in a wheelchair – a cruel twist of fate for a racer who avoided serious injury for 20 years racing speedway – one of the most dangerous sports on the planet.

In the past month, a rider who did win the world speedway crown – and a hugely entertaining racer who also graced the Ipswich Witch at Foxhall Stadium from 1998-2000, Tomasz Gollob, suffered severe spinal cord injuries while practising for the domestic motocross season in Poland.

Now starting to slowly regain full feeling deep in his legs and with his spinal cord not broken, Gollob may still be able to walk again. But he has a long rehabilitation ahead.

Motorbike racers from all genres of the sport know the risks, they don’t look for sympathy at any juncture and, from the many I know, they don’t want it either. ‘Sh** happens’, is how most of them view it.

However, for us many millions of motorbike fans, it hurts to watch.

A little less stress and a bit more family time..... Sounds good for Sam Allardyce, who left Crystal

A little less stress and a bit more family time..... Sounds good for Sam Allardyce, who left Crystal Palace this week. - Credit: PA

So, ‘Big Sam’ has gone.

Sam Allardyce this week quit the manager’s job at Crystal Palace and with it sailed into the sunset with, I’m pretty sure, a fair amount of money in the bank and plenty of ideas on how to spend it.

“I want to be able to savour life while I am still relatively young, and when I am still relatively healthy enough to do all the things I want to do, like travel, spend more time with my family and grandchildren without the huge pressure that comes with being a football manager,” he said.

How refreshing is that?

Sam has had his ups and downs in football and made a few mistakes along the way.

But I take my hat off to him for this decision.

Not because he couldn’t still do a good job somewhere, but because he has nothing professionally to prove to anyone. Family first, all day long.

As I said in this column a few weeks ago, I very much like John Terry and all he has done for Chelsea over the years. There are few of him left.

But, sorry JT, that send-off against Sunderland was way too cheesy for me.

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