Cyclist death was misadventure

A CYCLIST and former world championship contender suffered fatal head injuries following a collision with a fellow rider in a timed trial road race, an inquest heard.

A CYCLIST and former world championship contender suffered fatal head injuries following a collision with a fellow rider in a timed trial road race, an inquest heard.

Patricia Pepper, a retired secretary of Manor Road, Martlesham Heath, was an experienced competitor who friends described as a “rock solid, steady, safe, rider.”

On July 16, the 70-year-old and her husband Michael had travelled to Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, to compete in the 25-mile timed event organised by the Eastern District Cycling Association.

The pair, both members of Wolsey Road Club, set off six minutes apart, but Mrs Pepper, known as Pat, never made it to the finish line.


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The veteran rider, who had competed in events at home and abroad for more than 40 years, was knocked from her cycle during a collision with another competitor, Paul Russell, on the A47 at about 8.30am.

Mr Russell, 36, from Wisbech, told police he could not recall making contact with Mrs Pepper or her bicycle before they were both thrown from their cycles on to the road.

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He said that he had spotted Mrs Pepper, who was wearing a yellow and green skin suit, as he travelled at around 28 to 30mph. He said he estimated her speed at around 15 to 18mph and manoeuvred to overtake.

As he checked over his shoulder that it was safe to pull out he was thrown from his bike.

He said: “I have a slight recollection of being aware of something to my left.

“I don't recall any part of me or my cycle coming into contact with the other rider. The next thing I knew I was on the ground”

Mr Russell, a member of the Fat Birds cycle club, had been disciplined in the past for riding “head down” in a road race, a practice banned by the sport's governing body, the hearing was told.

Qualified first aider Layton Lewis and his wife Karen stopped at the scene to help Mrs Pepper, but she did not regain consciousness.

Mr and Mrs Lewis both gave evidence that Mr Russell had said he did not see Mrs Pepper following the accident, but conceded that the man had been “confused”, “pale” and seemingly “in shock”.

Mrs Pepper, who has won a string of titles including being crowned club champion several times, was taken by ambulance to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn and was transferred to the neuro-surgery department at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge where she died nine days later.

Recording a verdict of misadventure at St Margaret's House, King's Lynn, coroner William Knowles acknowledged Mrs Pepper as “an experienced rider” and added: “It is not my job to decide if anyone is to blame.”

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