Well, bonjour! I’m back, I can’t believe it’s now the end of August. If you’ve read my blog so far you’ll know but if not - I got badly injured in an ‘incident’ just before the Donington Park round of the British Superbikes championship. I was on my ‘out lap’, literally cruising the track before we grid up for all that media introduction stuff when one of my competitors, Josh Brooks, came at racing speed into the Melbourne Hairpin, lost control and ran straight into me mid corner.
Of course I didn't see it coming at all, I just heard the noise. The next thing I knew I was flying through the air, I could feel some strong pain in my leg and then I'm in the gravel. I looked at my leg and I could see it went straight for a while but then my boot was pointing 45° to the side and my foot was facing the wrong way. Now, I’ve never been seriously injured in all my racing years, so this was a first. But you know, you look at your leg like that, you can feel the pain, and it’s not something you ever want to deal with. You get this sick to your stomach feeling. Plus waves of grief and anger. Lots of thoughts all at once.
Anyway, I had the operation straight away to straighten the leg, which was successful. Then two days later another operation for a skin graft, because the hole left by the bone poking through the skin was quite big. Since then I've been recovering, waiting for the leg to grow strong and doing everything I can to make the bone grow quick. On one side a chunk of bone was missing – maybe it's in my boot somewhere! I don’t know, it’s gone, lost. On the other side, the bone was really fragmented, so they've left that alone for the bone to knit by itself. The recovery has taken a full 12 weeks. I’ve had to stay healthy and try and move as much as I can to keep the blood flow going but that’s not easy without also antagonizing the injury. Even low impact exercise like swimming I couldn’t do because of the risk of infection with the skin graft.
I tell you, I hated those 12 weeks, nearly as much as my wife Caroline did. Me being around the house not doing very much, not being able to help, getting increasingly grumpy (and you know we French do grumpy so well) has not been a life affirming experience. So I think the whole family breathed a sigh of relief when I got the all clear from the doctor to get back on the bike. The team put me on a road bike at first, at a public open day at Mallory Park, Leicestershire. They pulled me off after not many laps as they thought I was going to hurt somebody.
I think, mentally I’m unchanged. Next, we had a full test on the BSB race bike. It was on a beautiful summer evening at the incredible Cadwell Park circuit, in Lincolnshire. That place is like no track I’ve ever seen, except maybe Oulton Park - only it makes that place look tame. It’s so tight and incredibly twisty with this mad jump about three-quarters of the way around. It’s like motocross. Imagine if they put jumps into MotoGP or F1 – what would be said? Mind you, I really enjoyed it. It was like your first pint, cold, in a frosty glass, after the longest hottest day where you’ve worked yourself ragged. I just love riding that bike.
So now I’m back, for the next round at Cadwell Park. I love it. The fans are all over the place with comments on the internet. Saying to me don’t ride Cadwell, it’s too tough for a new rider. Saying Leon Camier’s raised his game since I got injured. Some say I can take it to Leon. Some say I can’t. I’m just so happy to see them all getting so fired up. Me? Racing is what I do. It’s what I love. I’m going to go to Cadwell and race like I always do, 100% committed. It may be there is too much to learn, or it may be I’ll have all it sorted, straight away. It doesn’t matter, I’m back doing what I love to do. Come this Bank Holiday weekend you’ll not find a happier Frenchman in all of Lincolnshire.
I should say something French.
Bonne chance mon ami