‘Cyclist’s palsy’ could have led to bike death

Cycling enthusiast Rebecca Scott Cycling enthusiast Rebecca Scott

Monday, May 26, 2014
6:00 AM

A ‘competent but not confident’ young athlete died after cycling into a wall in Branscombe, in inquest heard.

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A temporary numbing called ‘cyclist’s palsy’ was put forward as the best explanation why Rebecca Scott, 24, was unable to pull the brakes.

But Andrew Cox, the assistant coroner for Exeter and greater Devon, told a hearing at County Hall last Friday there was no way of knowing for certain what happened on the afternoon of August 3 last year as he returned a conclusion of accidental death.

Miss Scott had been cycling with her father, Alan Scott, as part of her training for the 100-mile Lochaber 100 bike ride in Scotland.

She had ridden from her home in Clyst St Mary, near Exeter, to his Sidford home, before setting off with him through Beer.

It was riding down the hill into Branscombe that she lost control, speeding ahead of her father past the Mason’s Arms, the inquest heard.

A statement from one holidaying witness said she had ‘never seen a cyclist going so fast’ as the Falmouth University graduate sped by, before going out of view as she hit a wall.

Her father told the inquest he heard a ‘bang’, and was by her side within seconds.

Passers-by contacted paramedics who led unsuccessful resuscitation attempts, but Miss Scott died from multiple injuries.

Mr Scott said his daughter’s two years of riding meant she was accustomed to riding steep hills like Sidmouth’s Peak Hill, and never reckless, but he had advised her to take it easy.

She was familiar with her bike – only saying that day she wanted to ‘tweak the brakes’ – but a collision investigator said there was no mechanical explanation for the accident.

Investigating officer PC Rod Lomas put forward a theory that riding a long distance brought on cyclist’s palsy, a condition Mr Cox conceded he was unfamiliar with, which could have prevented Miss Scott from effectively pulling the brakes.

Concluding, Mr Cox said: “Nothing I have heard is anything other than a perfectly sensible, well organised family cycle.

“I don’t believe any lack of confidence meant she shouldn’t have been able to go down – I think she was perfectly capable.

“The issue of cyclist’s palsy, which I have not come across before, has been raised. It is speculation and there is nothing a pathologist could find at post mortem.

“This just seems to be an absolute tragedy of a young, fit woman doing something she enjoyed with a family that she loved.”

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