My scariest moment: Cedric Gracia
We ask some familiar faces to recount the most heart-stopping moment they’ve had on two wheels. This time it’s the turn of MTB legend Cédric Gracia, remembering his brush with death on the island of La Réunion in 2013
“I’ve had a ton of scary moments in my life, but this is without doubt the biggest, because if my friend wasn’t with me that day, I wouldn’t be here talking about it.
“I was out in La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, for the Megavalanche there, practising with my boys. It was one of those slippery, wet days that you often find on the island. The day started bad because I had a stomach problem. I had to keep stopping in the woods and, after a couple of runs, I ran out of paper and had to use my sock! Let me tell you, my friends were pissing themselves, but at least they could keep up with me for once.
“After getting though all the real dangers on the track, we came into the bottom part, which is just a long straight. But that day, the dirt felt like ice. It was muddy, but we were all happy because the rain had stopped, and we weren’t far from the bar that we stopped at to get beers after each day’s riding. I was pretty tired so I wasn’t going super- fast, but the sugar cane we were riding through was high and I couldn’t see a thing.
All of a sudden, around one corner I lost the front wheel and bam! Monkey down! Suddenly, there was blood everywhere
"All of a sudden, around one corner I lost the front wheel and bam! Monkey down! Suddenly, there was blood everywhere. I pulled my pants down and blood started spurting out from a puncture in my femoral artery. I pushed my hands onto the hole to try and stop the bleeding and my friend did the same, while my other friend went to get help from a village we’d passed. For once in my life, beer wasn’t the priority – bad times indeed!
"The scariest thing was that we both knew we only had a few minutes to keep me alive. It was the wrong place to have a bad accident – no phone coverage, no ambulance, no beer and only one sock left! Luckily, my friend managed to call an ambulance, and a helicopter and doctor arrived.
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“The day started off pretty shitty and got worse, but making it through alive was a happy ending! A few days later, I finally got that beer on the beach and it was the best-tasting beer in the world!”
About Cedric Gracia
A mainstay of World Cup downhill, dual and four-cross racing through the ’90s and 2000s, this flamboyant Frenchman was as impressively wild on the track as he was at the post-race party. Cédric had several gruesome crashes during his career, but none was quite as harrowing as his brush with death on La Réunion. CG is still riding – and partying – as an ambassador for Forestal e-bikes and other sponsors.
This story originally appeared in MBUK issue 382 (June 2020). Subscribe here to get MBUK delivered to your door every month.
James Costley-White is the editor of Mountain Biking UK (MBUK), the UK's best-selling mountain biking magazine, founded in 1988. James, aka JCW, has been an avid mountain biker since 1992, during which time he's amassed a huge amount of knowledge about the sport and tons of riding experience. He can regularly be found riding the trails around Bristol and South Wales.