- Bike Checks
Racing is tough, and racing at world level is even tougher. Taking on the best in the world means you can't really hold back, but we all know that's easier said than done. Tracey Hannah has had more than her fair share of injuries lately - check in with her below to see where she is at in the recovery process, and for a little insight into just how taxing it can be, battling your demons. We can all take note. Tracey we wish you a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing you back doing what you love soon!
By Tracey Hannah // photos by Tim Bardsley-Smith
Surprisingly it’s not a goal of mine to continue being injured. Where do I start? End of July 2012 broken Femur requiring surgery, broken left clavicle, bruised lung. November 2012 broken toe. March 2013 broken right clavicle requiring surgery. Early July 2013 broken left clavicle requiring surgery.
You tell me to stop being injured!! How? At what moment do I realize that in the next minute or so I will be carted off by first aid? At what speed am I too fast? At what level of technical will I fail? If I haven’t been riding careful this year what is careful?
If I asked those questions every time I ride my bike how would I ever go fast? Riding is not about thinking before every jump, techy section, corner, rock, tree! It’s about training so you have the ability to naturally react to what happens when you're riding too fast to think.
When will I get the chance to fully recover physically and mentally from breaking the biggest bone in my body? Why do I feel like I am being judged so harshly when it hasn’t even been 12 months?
In July last year when I broke my leg I was told with that kind of injury it takes 12 – 18 months not to feel the pain anymore. It takes even longer to get over the mental challenge that is with you after a life experience like this.
It's not that I just had this injury, this broken bone. It's the lead up, the experience at the time, and the life events after. In my life of racing I have done 1 World Cup season, that was 2007 when I was 19. 2012 was my first season since then. I came back for the love of the sport, of course I trained and was prepared, but I was back because I love it. To my delight I won the first race of the year, that is just insane.
Taking the win doesn’t mean that all of a sudden instead of 1 year I have 10 years of race experience and I should win every round. No it took me the season to learn the tracks, get used to the style, learn to ride on the edge more than I had before. I had to learn how to race again.
I was getting better and better every race, closer and closer to the top, finally at the 5th round in Wyndham I was back, I took a 2nd place and it gave me enough points to eventually secure 4th place overall. However it was round 6 that would change my life.
I had never been to hospital for an overnight stay, I’d broken 1 bone in my life and it wasn’t riding downhill. I had never experienced the full extent of the risk of doing what I love. Then it started, I was in a helicopter being flown to the hospital with a broken femur which required surgery, a broken clavicle and a bruised lung.
So there I was, unable to lay on my left because of a broken collarbone, unable to sleep on my right because of staples in two sections of my leg. I was bedridden! My iron level was so low that if I sat up I would black out. An experience I had never been close to experiencing in my life.
I was in hospital for 3 weeks before flying home and starting a recovery that would eventually take the rest of the year and continues even now.
It was the end of the year that I got on a downhill bike again, and from there I built strength and confidence slowly. My first race back was the National Championship in February, probably one of the hardest times in my life. When you're fighting against your body to do something you love and to fear your worst nightmare it can be very mentally challenging.
I didn’t just give up, I didn’t quit, I accepted the feelings that I had but I pushed through them anyway. Yeah, I can quit, yes at that moment I had the fear, but wouldn’t anyone? It’s not about the fear that you feel but the strength that you have to move past it and start using the fear as a past feeling rather than a future battle. Of course the fear wasn’t gone then, and I still hold onto it now, but the difference is moving forward. There isn’t a day that you can choose to be over the fear, but everyday is a choice to feel it less today.
I'm writing this while recovering from my second collarbone surgery since March 2013. What some people seem to try to understand is ” ME “. How does anyone understand anyone? Yes, its ridiculous I’ve been injured so much in just 11 months. It doesn’t mean I should up and quit, it doesn’t mean that because I’m injured again that I am done racing. No, why would it? Yes, its hard, I feel like I’m being broken down every time I get injured. It’s the most challenging process I’ve ever had to go through.