A LAOIS cyclist narrowly avoided being blinded and seriously injured when a missile fired from a passing van struck him in the face last Thursday evening.
Portlaoise man Paul Ging, who is a member of Unlaoised MTB Cycle Club, had been on a 30km training cycle with his brother Christy when he was struck by a Double Decker chocolate bar which was hurled from a van travelling at 100km per hour.
The pair had been heading towards Mountrath on the Ballyfin Road. They were roughly a mile outside the town when a white Transit type van came towards them at speed.
“A lad leaned out and pegged a bar. It caught me smack on the face,” said Paul who had been riding behind Christy and did not see the oncoming van.
“Literally I did not know what hit me,” he said.
Cycling at about 40km per hour, Paul luckily managed to stay on his bike. The incident occurred on a long straight stretch of roadway. The pair observed the van stop briefly half a mile up the road before taking off again.
It was feared that Paul might have broken his jaw or injured his teeth. However, Paul has received a clean bill of health despite sustaining a nasty looking swollen lip, a tender jaw and some friendly ribbing over the fact that he was struck by a chocolate bar.
However, he was lucky to escape without more serious injury.
Paul said: “We were travelling 40km. The van was doing 100km. No matter what speed you are doing, it’s going to do damage.”
Christy and Paul had been training for the upcoming iconic road race in the Stelvio Pass, Italy.
Paul wasn’t deterred by what happened and was back on his bike the following day.
Since last Thursday, a photo of Paul’s facial injury has been circulated on social media and on boards.ie website. The Portlaoise man said he had received an “unbelievable response” with other cyclists coming out with their own similar experiences. From what Paul has learned, the number of similar incidents in Laois has “gone out of control”.
He said: “Someone had a can of coke thrown at them, another person said he had packet of flour thrown at him.”
Following the incident, a member of Tullamore Cycling Club also took to the airwaves to say that club members have been pelted with eggs while cycling.
Paul said: “You’d get young lads swerving behind you or blaring the horn. You don’t mind that. Young lads will be young lads. But to hurl something and purposely doing harm, they don’t realise the sort of damage can be caused.”
The incident was reported to gardaí. Anyone with information is asked to Mountrath Garda Station at 0578732236.