Mountain biker died in ‘freak’ fall over ramp

A mountain biker died after going “over the handlebars” of his bicycle while negotiating a ramp during a race on the Isle of Man, an inquest has heard.

Nigel Park, from Glen Mona, fell off his bike in a field near Ballacraine during the End2End Mountain Bike Challenge in September 2019.

The 71-year-old suffered “catastrophic” injuries when he landed on his head.

Mr Park was a “capable and experienced” rider who knew the course well, the hearing was told.

But the court heard he “took off” while going over a ramp created by a gap cut in a hedge between two fields.

A fellow competitor who witnessed the crash described it as a “freak accident” on a “fast” part of the course, which was popular with riders.

A report by the island’s health and safety inspectorate found there was nothing in the set-up or management of the event that contributed to the death.

However, while the correct warning signage around the ramp was in place the only marshal on duty in the area was inexperienced, the court heard.

Coroner Jayne Hughes said although that “did not affect the outcome” of the accident, additional changes should be made.

She recommended new marshals should receive “training, proper instruction and suitable supervision”.

Marshals who witness serious incidents in future should be invited to a debrief meeting, she added.

Ruling the death was an accident, Mrs Hughes passed on her condolences to Mr Park’s daughters, who attended the hearing at Douglas Courthouse.

In a statement, they described him as “a legend in his own lifetime”, who had developed a “passion” for mountain biking.

The painter and decorator was a regular participant in the annual event, which takes competitors along a 47-mile (75km) route from the Point of Ayre at the island’s most northern tip to Port Erin in the south.

Why not follow BBC Isle of Man on Facebook and Twitter? You can also send story ideas to [email protected]