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Scott Cornish - Stick Riding

There was no audible indication of what had just happened or any pain. It was an over the bars moment like any other, expecting to brush myself off, pick up the bike and carry on. I was just annoyed at myself for coming off on such a simple section and losing time on the 1st special stage on stage 4 of Ironbike, especially after a strong climb up to the start.


The position of the left wrist said it all, I knew my race was over. As was the next 6 weeks at least of riding minimum. The wrist was displaced rearward at an awkward angle, both ulnar and radius broken, endorphins keeping the inevitable pain at bay, momentarily. Mark Spratt graciously stopped his race too, to help me up and to start to walk myself and the bike back to the special stage start just 100m away, before the medic arrived. Mark seemed a little too happy though about getting to use his emergency whistle!

Ironbike is no doubt used to seeing riders break themselves over its 25 editions, the medical help swift and efficient, finding myself quickly at the nearest hospital. Invasive surgery wasn’t necessary at the time and luckily hadn’t been needed.

The wrist was soon in plaster after the consultant had realigned the bones with the help of 1 nurse pulling hard at the elbow and another from the fingers! As cyclists we can be a hardy bunch, but that was not an experience I wanted to repeat.

With an untimely finish to my A race of the year, it would have been overly optimistic to be on the starting line on the next event, the Lazio Trail bikepack in early September. As a physio, I know that the boney healing is only halfway to having a fully functioning wrist again, especially with how the wrist  ended up, disrupting tendon, nerve and muscular tissues. Being competitive for the tail end of the season seemed unlikely.

Severe injuries that keep anyone away from their sport is a mind game as well  as the obvious physical one. This injury would have floored the younger version of myself, frustrated and angry at my misfortune, but this older me realises it could have been much worse, that I was lucky. I will heal. Sure, all that hard earned upper end fitness slips away, but I will be back riding at some point. Shit happens and it's how we deal with it that matters and it's how I have seen others deal with injury, some completely life changing, that has inspired me to simple work through as best as I can. Frustrated to not be out in the hills, but sometimes we have to take a deep breath when life throws a curve ball and figure things out. There is always a way.

Trying to remain optimistic about being able to ride the last remaining, planned bikepack events in France and Israel, I needed to work out was how to spend more than 15 minutes on the turbo. Riding 1 handed for more than that was too draining on the right arm and the back,  causing the trunk to twist to compensate for a fatiguing arm. Designing a tool to support my upper body seemed like the answer and quickly, as I was due to be away working as a soigneur to a group of cyclists riding the 1968 Tour de route. Massaging 1 handed was another aspect I had to figure out….

Nature would provide the hook to go over the bars in the form of a sturdy branch with a mate bolting on the shoulder support piece. Padding added some small amount of comfort. It worked, although limiting the ability to change hand positions or stand. Crude, but effective.