The end of ski season took an interesting twist for me this year. Right after the Freeride World Tour finals in Verbier, Switzerland I found myself on a plane to South Africa. I had received a start for the first UCI Downhill Mountain bike World Cup of the season in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa and after that I would be headed to Cairns, Australia for the second WC of the season. Having had no time on my bike since early November this was going to be a tough introduction to the World Cup circuit.
The first stops on the tour were a great but humbling experience. I wasn't quite ready but I knew I could get there. I decided to take some time before I raced again to gain some more hours on my bike. I had spent almost every day riding DH and getting the feeling back when I came back from the first two stops of the tour. My plan was to race again till the WC races in North America that took part early August. I figured that would be enough time to gain the confidence and time on my bike to have a more successful race.
A week before the WC at Monte Sainte Anne in Canada I had met up with a few of my friends that were also heading to the next WCs. We decided we would get some training in at Highland Bike Park in New Hampshire. I've always enjoyed that place and was pretty excited to get some laps at that bike park. The day was going well until I cruised down one of the jump trails. I'd rode that trail before and I knew what to look out for, for some reason I was a bit distracted and not fully committed to hitting one of the jumps. In hindsight I wish I just didn't hit it at all. I came off the jump all wrong and ended up slamming into the ground pretty hard. I landed mostly on my left side and besides some cuts and bruises everything seemed okay, until I noticed my right wrist/hand. I started to notice that something was wrong and decided to walk to the bottom. Instantly the swelling set in and my hand was huge! I knew I was done for the weekend and with the World cup at MSA just a week away I knew rest was going to be important.
With a week off my bike I headed up to MSA to try and race. I walked the course and felt great about everything I saw. I knew I was ready and that this was going to be a fun race, if my wrist held up. The following day was practice and I stuck my wrist in a brace and gave it a shot. About 300 meters in to the course, two turns in I knew I had a problem. I wasn't going to be racing this week. Still hopeful that another week of rest would result in me being good to go for the following WC in Windham, NY I took it easy on my way down the mountain.
At the bottom I ran into some of my friends and they suggested it was time to get an x-ray. The first set of x-rays I received showed signs of a scaphoid fracture. That meant a cast for at least 3 months! No more bike racing for me this season. As a professional skier my first priority is staying healthy for winter. I know some of my friends that race bikes full time might of raced through the pain of this injury, for me that was not an option. A few sets of X-rays that all showed a broken scaphoid and one MRI later it was determined that I did not have a broken scaphoid. Unfortunately, that did not mean I was okay. I had still done some damage to my wrist and thumb and biking was still not an option. I had hoped that by the second to last WC race I would be all set to race. It's been almost two months now and I have decided time would be best for my wrist.
A messed up wrist however has not stopped me from training for winter and life. Just a few days after the initial accident I was back to training. There were ways to work around my injury so that I could continue building strength, box jumps, weighted vests, etc... It was my cardio that would possibly suffer some. I love biking and I enjoy hiking and running on occasion yet I don't really consider myself that great of a runner. If I wanted to stay fit and outdoors I didn't really have much of a choice. The first few runs did not feel great, I hate to admit it but all I did was miss my bike. Maybe a week into running something clicked. It was fun and I was getting faster and faster. I don't know if I would call myself fast, but I was improving.
When I got back to Sweden I realized that all of my friends were biking and it felt like I was going to miss out on all the fun. I decided I would try to follow my friends on a 22km bike trip out to Pyramiderna. I figured I would start a little early and when they passed me I'd maybe continue for a bit then turn back. I had a feeling I wouldn't make it that far before they caught me but it was still worth a shot. Next thing I knew I was 8km out and waiting for my friends on bikes. I was still out enjoying nature, with my friends and running! Sure, I missed my bike but as I ran more and more I was really starting to appreciate going for a good run.
I've done a few of these trips where I head out with my friends, they bike, I run and it has been great. In a strange way I think it will improve my biking when I am able to get back to riding. I've been going on all these 12km, 16km, 22km runs that I normally would think are a good distance for the bike and I'm realizing that I should be getting out for much longer rides more often!
It will be interesting to see what happens to my running when I can get back on the bike. Maybe I'll fit both into my training more consistently. Only time will tell. In the meantime I'm going to make the best of my injury and enjoy running!