Increasing the odds- Thursday 1st August 1991

Maddie was speeding back home on her motorbike, bypassing the limit, as per usual. It was raining, just like it had been raining for the past two weeks. She overtook a couple of small cars, water spraying up her legs. Wind howled past her face and she clutched the handlebars in a way that made her seem almost heroic.

The reality being that she was making her way back from Tesco.

Puddles of water crept up the sides of the road and the sky blackened.

Maddie pushed the bike faster leaving cars to trundle along in the distance. Her heart was embracing the thrill of danger. She didn't have very far to go.

People think that crashes don't happen on short trips like hers. Think about it. When you climb into your car to nip to the local supermarket, you don't feel like you're in any sort of danger. You don't realise that you are risking your life in a screaming metal death-trap each time you step into any sort of vehicle.

It's the same way you don't realise the risks of having a suicide attempter land on top of you and crush you to death when you walk past particularly high man-made structures. You've walked past tall buildings and 80-foot bridges before, why should today be any different?

The fact is: that no matter where you are, you are always under some sort of danger, however absurd. Whether or not this danger comes into play is usually left up to chance and of course, there are some ways to skew the odds.

Riding a motorbike home instead of a car will increase the odds. Riding a motorbike home in a rainstorm will increase the odds. Treating the actual speed limit as a square root of how fast you want to go will definitely increase the odds.

Maddie crashed her bike that day. Curiously enough, it wasn't because she was on a motorbike, or that the road was starting to flood, or that she laughed in the face of speed-limits.

A ball of lightning about the size of a Spacehopper suddenly materialised in the middle the road.

So... what do you do when a freak of nature decides to place itself in front of your speeding motorbike? Maddie had only seconds to make up her mind. She made a mad swerve, praying that she'd live to see another day.

That's how Maddie, aged 21, got smeared up a tree with her left leg crushed under the bike. The bike was later scrapped, and the leg, amputated.

She was very lucky to survive that particular incident. Two years on, she wouldn't be so fortunate.