I am racing enduro since 2014, I had many crashes, but I never got seriousely injured… till now.
One month ago I got a request to participate in a 4-hour team race in Amtzell/Germany with a lady named Janina Würtele. Janina comes from Supermoto and sidecar racing, road motor sports. She has never competed in an Enduro race before, so I was really curious to met the “fast lady” 🙂 We did not know each other before, participating in this race together was somehow like a “blind date” and “love at first sight”, if you can say so. Janina is a great girl, we got along very well from the first moment on, but how could we not ? I mean we both love bikes 😉
The conditions for racing were super tough! It rained like hell the week before and so the track was super slippery, it was more or less a fight against mud! I did the start and the first round. I felt really good on the rocket, this time I rode a KTM 300 TPI – revolutionary! I will definitely share my experiences with the new models with you, but therefore it will need a separate blog entry 🙂
In some corners and parts of the track I found myself with solid speed again. After Red Bull Romaniacs mode, it wasn’t to easy to get back in faster racing, but I felt the rhythm again. Janina took over after the first round, she was super excited, and I am pretty sure a bit nervous as well. Even I felt nervous for her, cause I knew the track and the tricky parts already. My fingers were crossed, I really hoped she enjoys racing Enduro.
It took some time, but we finally found a good pace and the right timing for changing. After more than 3 hours, we saw the finish already – yes! It was my turn again and I started my round as usual. Everything was running perfectly fine and then, at this steep downhill with 3 slots, I took the wrong one. I have no idea why, but I did it. I got stuck somehow and crashed over the handlebars downward and landed under the rocket. I knew there was something wrong in my knee immediately! My first look after I got up went to the bike, was it ok? One of the marshals said: “Everything fine, the KTM is ok!” After that I tried to stand up… well this was not really working. So I crawled down the hill and tried to get back on the bike again. I finished the round with a small shortcut and asked Janina to go for the last round. I rolled back to my trailer trying to get out of the clothes. My knee brace on the right side was broken. I tried to stand up and strain the right knee, without sucess. Lower leg and thigh were not really holding together, a cruel feeling. It does not hurt but it looks horrible. Lucky me, I had amazing help from my friends and other riders loading the trailer with all my stuff. Within minutes, I was ready to go home.
Although this race did not go the way I wanted to, I did not want to miss the winners’ ceremony. Janina helped me to get on the podium. Standing with her together as a team was a great moment!
After packing all my stuff into the car, I was ready to go. Some of you might say: “What? Driving home with the car on your own? Are you serious?” It sounds really crazy I admit it. Driving the car with a damaged knee. But I have to add – I had no pain and I could use the brake, gas and clutch as usual. There was no difference, so I decided to go home on my own. AND a really important fact, that made it really easy to drive: my SUZUKI VITARA has this amazing gadget. It is called Adaptive Cruise Control. A milimetre-wave radar measures the distance from the vehicle in front. To maintain the right distance from the preceding vehicle as set arbitrarily by myself, the system automatically accelerates or decelerates the Vitara. This was so comfortable, nearly like driving with autopilot.
I just had to get to the highway, start the cruise control and wait till the right exit arrives. In this situation, this was the best thing that could have possible happen to me. THANK YOU Suzuki for the save drive, when I needed it most!
When I got home, I went directly to bed and fell asleep. In the morning my mother picked me up to got to the hospital. She is a doctor, so I was in the best hands possible. After some checks at the emergency station I got my results very quick: unhappy triad, which is an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament, medial collateral ligament, and medial meniscus. A typical injury for enduro riders, skiers or soccer players. My knee is too sore at the moment, I won’t be having an operation yet. The meniscus and lateral ligament can be healed mainly through physical therapy, but sooner or later I’ll have to have an operation on the cruciate ligament.
The fall gave me the idea for my new project (the project before the project so to say) to get fit and healthy again and return stronger than ever. It isn’t going to be an easy recovery; it’ll take forever and at times will most likely push me to my limits mentally. But I’ve overcome many other challenges in my life, so I feel optimistic. Success is as much a part of Enduro sport as injury, and there are probably very few major athletes who have never been injured. Many have in fact celebrated the highlights of their careers following their worst injuries. If that isn’t motivation, then I don’t know what is!
The first week is already behind me and I cannot believe how helpless I feel in everyday situations. Despite this, I have still been able to appreciate the beautiful autumn days; just like my family do, enjoying the sunshine and nature gives me plenty of motivation. I may have dialed things down a notch for now, but only in preparation for new adventures.