I was pretty excited to be heading to South Africa and Australia for the first World cups.  I was riding well physically and technically and importantly, I was having fun racing and training. I was in a good spot. I looked forward to the challenge of lining up against all of the World’s best.

So you can understand my frustration when I hit the dirt and got up with the familiar burning and “wrong” feeling of a broken clavicle.  It was one of those crashes that shouldn’t have happened.  I was riding a jump I had done several times that week, but with confidence sometimes comes lack of judgment as well.  I wasn’t feeling up to that trail at that moment, but chalked it up to being silly.  It was fine.  There’s this thing though where hesitation and jumps don’t mix.  I still went for the jump line was too tense came down nose first and went over.  Boom.  No hopping on that flight the next morning. 

It’s amazing how two clavicle break experiences can be totally different.  When I broke my right side last year it was off a pretty massive jump and I basically pile drove my head into the landing.  One of the scariest things I’ve ever heard was when the hospital attendants told me I was presenting like a neck injury.  I had been prepared for a broken clavicle, but not that.  But, my neck was ok, just really tight.  I had back spasms for 2 weeks that made getting out of bed in under 20 min a source of pride, I was on the trainer relatively quickly, using a stool to get on, but my muscles had to compensate so much that my scapula was like a wing and got brutal muscle cramps.  I was told it was highly unlikely the bones would fuse back together due to the location of the break and surgery was suggested, but every day I was feeling better and I wanted to be back on my mtb.  I didn’t need painkillers and my strength and mobility were returning so I decided to let my body heal itself.  6 weeks later I was able to line up at my first race.

This time my break is a relative walk in the park.  Again no painkillers, and this time no back spasms or other major tissue damage from the crash.  I feel like I am starting rehab at the 2+week mark of last year’s recovery and have a great team to get me back riding comfortably.  So I am hopeful for a quick comeback.  I also have the experience of having gone through an injury like this before.  I know what I did last year that set me back, choices I made to feel more confident on my bike heading into worlds hat probably hurt my form, but also what training was effective.  I know I can comeback from much worse in 6 weeks which means this time isn’t as scary and devastating.

It’s interesting how perspective changes.  I was having so much fun riding.  The trails had just recently shed their snow and all the trails that had been hidden from us for 4 months were there to help us remember why we love mtn biking.  The last thing I wanted to do was to return to the basement and the trainer.  But then I started to love and appreciate my Kinetic trainer again.  With out it what could I do.? It was enabling me to feel progress, feel healthy, feel human and do my job.  I was lucky to be able to ride it, to train and have a job I love, a team that supports me and family and friends to make me laugh.

People seem impressed at how positive one can remain in the face of adversity, but sometimes adversity just shows us how good we actually have it.

See you on the trails



Unknown said…
Catherine, I admire your passion and ambition to get back out after injury! I can't wait to watch when you're back on the dirt.
I have a question for you for, if you can remember to when you first started riding... Or maybe relate it back to getting out after time recovering/training indoors... How did you get over the nervousness of steep descents? I absolutely love getting out riding and am competing for the second year in my province, but I get massive rushes of nerves/heart racing when doing decents. I'm sure the trick is simple, to ride more, but I often second guess myself and at that point I'll catch myself jumping off my bike and running down instead of riding! Any tips??
Kika said…
Hi Erin, thanks for the note. You're right! It really does come down to exposure. The more you ride the more descents feel normal and the less scared you become. The other part is progression. Build up gradually to harder descents and features. Feel like a master of the basics and keep pushing for one step above where you are. This progress can be aided by practicing on a bigger slacker angled bike or with your seat down and a short high stem on your xc bike. The biggest thing though will be just staying relaxed in the legs and upper body (your shock absorbers), eyes ahead, knees and elbows bent and smile. Look forward to the challenge and heart beating thrilling rather than starting to fear the section before you're even there. Descents are fun, even if you don't totally feel it yet start the positive self talk. Wahoo I get to hit that descent again!
Anonymous said…
A champion attitude.