Broken Hip, Surgery and a Successful Return to Racing
I just had a quick read over my last blog entry back in March. I had just come off a couple of great races with 3rd place at National Champs and also 3rd at Oceania Champs and was headed over to South Africa for the first UCI World Cup. As it turned out I wasn’t able to compete in any of the World Cup Races over the 2014 Season. All it took was one silly little mistake down a drop-off, resulting in an over-the handlebars crash and my World Cup Season was over before it had begun.
I won’t go through the whole story here, but the shortened version is that 4 weeks after crashing I found myself in the operating theatre having surgery on my left hip. Basically, I had broken both the pelvis and head of femur right through. As it had taken so long for the full extent of the injury to show the head of femur had begun to heal in the wrong place. So, surgery was required and the bone was debrided into a more ‘usable’ round shape so that the ‘ball would fit the socket’ a little better. Needless to say, my left hip was cactus!
Hmm, my bone seems to have healed in the wrong place…
I have no right to complain though. Especially given the horrible injuries athletes sustain in this sport; some never to ride again. With some great people around me I was able to get into see one of the best surgeons going around Mr. David Young, who is known to help get athletes back to doing what they love to do with the least amount of interruption possible. I was off the bike and off my leg for a total of 6 weeks. During this time I did go a little ‘crazy’ and even resorted to vigorous hill climb efforts with use of crutches just to get the heart rate up above resting. In some ways though, it was good to have complete rest and have time to do some of the things I normally don’t get around to. I now make sure to keep up with regular Pilates and massage treatment through Croydon LifeCare. These guys have been amazing in helping get back to where I am now!
4 months post-surgery, I found myself lining up for a race once again. I had been lucky enough to get the invite from TriEvents and Tony Tucknott to race the Dwellingup 100, and as I had heard so many good things about this race, it was a good choice to start back with. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with the event!
I would rate the Dwellingup Marathon as one of the most enjoyable I’ve completed. The course includes a wide variety of trails with some sweet, well-groomed single-track as well as some of the more rugged-style mtbking. There’s definitely some climbing, but not enough to cause you to contemplate retirement! This year’s race turned more technical when the rain started and some of the tight corners became a little harder to negotiate.
As this was my first race back I really had no expectations leading in and therefore was pleasantly surprised to take the win. I was even happier however, to have finished the distance without any real hip pain and so it seemed I could start planning on some more races ahead J
Some great footage of this year’s Dwellingup 100 can be seen here:
A quick pre-race interview and lining up for race start
I had placed 2nd and 3rd in this event over the last couple of years. This year’s aim was to place one step higher! The line-up looked to be pretty hot with some in-form marathon racers such as Jodie Willett. Karen Hill. Mel Anset and Rebecca Locke.
With 100km virtually all single-track it was important to pace well and keep the efficiency high. I think I managed this pretty well in the first couple of hrs. but then started to get some dreaded lower back pain coming into the second half of the race. I definitely found this marathon course to be one of the most physically taxing and in hind-sight a dual suspension bike would have been nice!
I had to back off Jodie Willett’s wheel and try to find a rhythm I could handle. Through the main feed zone I stocked up on Torq Gels and energy once more and told myself to “toughen up” and get the pace going again. Most people know too well how the mind can wander and positive talk is much needed through these longer-style races! At around the 70km mark I caught up to Jodie once more and we then rode together for the next 10km or so. I managed to gain a small gap on her up a steep fire-road section and then pushed on to eventually win the race by 3.5min.
So, I had finally taken out title of Kowalski Queen. Next year I will have added pressure of trying to defend…maybe I will go equipped with duallyJ
The Kowalski generally involves a cold start…it is Canberra
Post-race congrats from Jodie
YOU YANGS YOWIE
After having raced a marathon in WA and then one in Canberra, I was quite excited to race the Yowie marathon in my home state, Victoria. This is one of my favorite events and one I try to include every year. The You Yang’s Mtb Park includes some of the best trails going around and this race gives a great chance to ride them all in 1 day!
I was a little knackered leading into this race and so found it particularly tough. Luckily I knew some of the more technical trails quite well and I was able to push these sections so I could rest up a little more on the straight fire-road sections. It was fantastic to ride alongside many of the athletes whom I coach and particularly pleasing that most enjoyed some of their best results to date.
The You Yang’s Yowie is a good one to win, as the 1st place prize hamper is chocker-block full of goodies. This year was no exception and I am still enjoying some of the gourmet produce 2 months later!
The Yowie Monster was still lurking behind even at presentations
I was both excited and nervous leading into the Hellfire Cup Stage race. I do love pairs racing, as there is nothing like working as a team and sharing both the highs and lows along the way. It does also bring on some added pressure though, of not letting your teammate down. This year I was stoked to be riding alongside young emerging talent Em Parkes, also riding for Team Torq. Em is a handy rider on the techy stuff and can definitely ‘ping the D’s’. Her fitness and strength has also been improving rapidly over the last year and she definitely has the talent to go a long way in this sport if she chooses!
As it turned out, Em and I worked great together. We quickly learned that my older legs took a little longer to warm up and Em had to be careful not to punch out too much power from the start lineJ Luckily, I was able to make up for it in the latter half of each stage.
Everyone had their fingers crossed for some fine weather given the bad luck the previous year when race organizer, Duncan Giblin, had dealt with both bushfires and flooding. This year sunshine greeted us for the most part of the 4 days. It was awesome to experience the fantastic trail network of Kellevie in such conditions! Hats off to Duncan and all the sponsors and volunteers who had really put the hard yards in. Duncan had taken on board the advice from competitors last year turned the event into one of the best run and most enjoyable I have taken part in!
Em and I had a close battle over the 4 days with Naomi Williams and Be Locke. These girls come from a road racing background and were super strong on the fire-road sections. We had to really work the single-track sections to try and stay ahead. Lucky for us, there was quite a lot of tighter trails and we were able to finish each stage just a little ahead and coming into the last day had built a small but handy lead.
This is when our luck ran out though! Literally 10m into my last hill time trial, I snapped a chain. Bugger! It seemed I had to show my mechanical skills, or lack of, and try to fix a chain in a hurry! I tried to keep calm and go through the processes smoothly. It turned out that I was approx. 30sec too slow and the Naomi/Bec duo beat us overall by this painfully small margin. Needless to say, I will be practicing my chain breaking skills a little more.
Em and I prior to TT start; We met some great people during the 4-day event
So where to from here?
I hadn’t thought that I’d still be enjoying both my training and racing quite so much as I have been these last few months and therefore hadn’t really planned too far ahead. While I am still just taking one step at a time, I will definitely aim to be in peak form for both Cross Country National Champs in March and also Marathon National Champs in May next year with the goal of featuring at the pointy end. I am quite proud of my consistency over the last 6 years in having always finished on the podium. It is getting harder and harder each year to keep up with the young talent coming through; however with hard work and dedication I believe I can still improve my riding and continue to match it with the best
I’d like to thanks the following sponsors so much for their continued support through the tough times as well as the good;
At Team Torq, are also lucky enough to have some exciting new sponsors onboard:
Flight Centre Active
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