Four broken ribs, a fractured vertebrae, four days of lost memory. Bryce Morden knows it could have been worse but the Timboon cyclist has shared his harrowing story and painful recovery in the hope other riders will be spared from a life changing collision on the roads.
Mr Morden, the Timboon CFA captain and a board member with Timboon Health, was struck from behind by a distracted driver on a straight section of the Timboon-Port Campbell Road, just three kilometres from his house last month.
He was airlifted to the Alfred Hospital and spent two weeks undergoing treatment.
"I lost four days of memory after the collision. The last thing I remember is leaving the office," Mr Morden said.
Wearing a Camperdown cycling club top and a different pair of shorts, Mr Morden recalls he hoped that he wouldn't be noticed in a mismatched cycling kit.
"Not being matchy-matchy for a roadie is a bit of a faux par, so I was hoping that no one would see me," he said.
"But I decided to wear the Camperdown top because it is bright yellow.
"I'm a pretty predictable rider when I am cycling on the road, I am not weaving and wobbling around."
As a result of the collision Mr Morden suffered four broken ribs and a burst fracture of the L1 vertebrae, requiring him to wearing a body brace for 100 days.
"It feels like the brace is holding everything together," he said.
"I'm off work, I'm not sure how long but at least three months.
"My wife (Joy) has become the primary carer for me, on top of looking after our teenage kids.
"She was called to the crash scene and friends stepped in and looked after the kids for three nights.
"This has obviously put a lot of strain on the family, especially with the uncertainty of the first few days."
Mr Morden was brought to tears by acts of kindness from the community following the accident while cycling home from work.
As a child growing up in Terang, bike riding was a source of independence for Mr Morden allowing him to go fishing or visit friends without bothering his parents.
"The bike was freedom," Mr Morden said. "It was quite liberating."
Mr Morden is unsure about letting his children out alone on their bikes after the collision. The children, girls aged 15 and 14, and a 12-year-old boy, have not ridden their bikes since the incident.
"You want them to grow up to be self-reliant, independent adults, but you don't want them to come to grief in an accident," Mr Morden said.
"For the kids it was pretty tough, they are old enough to be aware of what was going on."
Mr Morden said there was no easy fix for accidents, but he would like to see more patience from all road users.
"Even getting those people who occasionally make poor decision to make consistently good decision would be really powerful," he said.
"Just because you have got your licence doesn't mean your learning stops."
Building and maintaining bike lanes on the sides of the road so riders have somewhere to go when cars approach, and for bike riders to show respect for the drivers and move to the side, are key aspects of rider safety for Mr Morden.
"People who want to be self righteous and feel like they own the road need to learn a bit of compassion and just relax a bit," he said.
"The 'Meter Matters' campaign is really important, but I am not sure the message is getting through.
"A lot of people think that by taking a risk they are going to save a massive amount of time compared with just sitting tight, staying calm and waiting. It's not just cyclists but oncoming traffic that is at risk."
Mr Morden's wife Joy also had an incident while cycling along the same stretch of road, when a driver tried to squeeze between her and an oncoming vehicle.
"I had a panic attack the first time I went out riding (after her husband's collision)," Mrs Morden said.
"I yelled, then I cried and then I kept riding."
The impact of the collision on the family has been massive, she said.
"It has changed everything," she said.
"The least of which is the worry for Bryce to start with, now it is the fear for everyone if they are on the road. Even driving the car is scarier.
"It's not like the odds have changed, but it feels like it's different. We always knew we were taking a risk, but it has brought it home."
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