Why I Won’t Be Snowboarding This Season

Back in July I had a collision on my mountain bike: the car won. The most significant injury was a broken femur. The leg was pinned, I lay in hospital for 17 days, nearly 3 months later and I’ve only just started to bear weight on my right leg. It’s going to take a while to get back to full strength.

OK, now onto the photos. At first I was under the impression that I wasn’t able to get a copy of my x-rays. That turned out to be untrue. After writing a letter, informing the hospital what I wanted them for and stating that I wouldn’t use them to sue the hospital or any of its staff, I received a CD with all the x-rays. Here they are:

The original break, 12th July 2010, broken all the way through in two places. The diagonal white line on the left x-ray is just the splint.

Post operation, 16th July, the pin is in place. I think this particular style of pin is called a “hip screw”. I’m still curious as to how they threaded that thing through the middle…

Healing nicely, 21st September, advised that the leg is ready to move toward bearing weight. It does show a lot of new bone, knitting together nicely, if not a little rough around the edges :) . A week after this x-ray I had my first physiotherapy session – in which I started with exercises to strengthen the leg.

From here on out, I’m hoping that it’s gonna be good progress all the way. I just want to get the leg fit, as fast and safely as possible, and then get back to me being fit. Three months and counting, on crutches, is a whole lot of sitting around and slow moving.

Where was I at before this happened?

Before the accident happened I was getting ready to ride the coast to coast, training hard on my bike (look where that got me!). It’s not particularly hardcore; you can take as long as you like about it. We were planning on around 50 miles per day, over three days. The training regime was working well though, I was quite fit.

As for the coming season, the plan was Breckenridge. Very exciting. Great parks, good snow, good mountains, and I really like Colorado. Shredding in the USA would have been a first for all of us.

As for getting my tricks on, a spot of pre-season training, I was enjoying some regular riding at Castleford’s indoor snowdome. Frontside boardslides were back on the menu, after a period of inaccessibility. I’d also learned how to do nose grabs for the first time – too long considering the length of time I’ve wanted to do them.

I was aiming to drop some little videos, evidence, to show the progression. Before losing the fight with the car, I’d recorded just one little clip. It’s nothing gnarly, but it was the type of thing I was after to tick off the tricks as I felt they were ready:

I attribute both the progress with the front-boards and the nose grab to the Snowboard Addiction videos. I’ve been waxing lyrical on here for a while about their freestyle program, why? Because it’s very good. A couple of key pointers to think about, some practice with a balance rail and a trampoline, and I had two tricks progressing nicely where I’d previously been struggling. I was keen as mustard to keep learning new stuff. Backside 180 with counter-rotation just felt awesome. How come I didn’t think about that stuff before?

Where am I going next?

Shit happens. It’s not the end of the world. I hope the above story didn’t make it sound like I’m wallowing in self-pity, at the injustice of it all. I’m not.

Sure it’s disappointing, but like I said, it’s not the end of the world. I’d rather look forward, which is what I’m doing…

There is a chance that I’d be able to snowboard this season, a small one, but it’s there. Something toward the end of the season, March or early April… But there are a few snags with that. Most importantly, I’m getting married in April (awesome). Ciara and I were supposed to be married on October 16th, around a week from now, but we postponed on account of me losing the fight with the car. Risking the leg a few weeks before our next attempt at a date doesn’t seem like a good idea…

And besides, I want to feel confident when I next travel to the mountains. I don’t want to hold back snowboarding. I certainly wouldn’t want to travel to somewhere like Breckenridge only to say “hmm, I don’t think my leg is up to riding the park”. No way.

Here comes a benefit of shredding in the UK – the snowdome is a perfect way for me to re-introduce myself to snowboarding, at a low cost. If I travel there and it’s not happening, no big deal. So this is my plan:

  • Work hard on the physiotherapy, get back to exercising, get strength back in my legs.
  • Start to snowboard again, here in the UK, next spring. See how it’s going.
  • If it’s all feeling good, I might look to get some summer snowboarding in, maybe Les Deux Alpes or somewhere like that.
  • Go somewhere really sick in 2011. Breck, Whistler, Japan, I don’t know. I’ll enjoy looking and contemplating though!

All of that could change. The recovery may go much quicker than expected, or maybe a little slower? I don’t know and it’s still early days. I hope you enjoyed the x-rays, I know I did!

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Comments
13 Responses to “Why I Won’t Be Snowboarding This Season”
  1. Dave says:

    Love your blog. Get well soon!

  2. Gavin says:

    Cheers Dave. That is a big ass kicker in Spain!

  3. wsgsteve says:

    Those are some sobering x-rays, it makes me appreciate how the things we take for granted can be cut short in an instance. It’ll be interesting to see how this has affected your attitude to snowboarding when you are back, beyond the obvious confidence thing. I’ve got plenty of places to send you to when you’re back, and in the meantime keep up the great work!

  4. Gavin says:

    Hey Steve, it’s weird, but right now, I can’t wait to get back on a board. I think because I was on the upward part of the curve, progressing again, I’m just really looking forward to get back on the board.

    The doctor/physio have both said that “strength” in the leg isn’t going to be a problem – any potential setback will come from how the rehabilitation goes from here, like flexibility or range, rather than a weakness of the leg.

    That’s made me feel very positive, because I can’t do much about a weak bone, but I can work hard at physio :)

    I do feel a little apprehensive about cycling on the road again, which is useful as far as it might suggest I’m not just being naive as to my confidence going back to snowboarding… as ever – “we’ll wait and see”.

    Plenty of places to send me? Nice one, always interested! I just need to make snowboarding a bigger part of my working life now, and get out of the office :)

    Cheers, Gavin

  5. Reneator says:

    The weaknesses in your bones will be the old parts, the new ones are stronger than ever! Your bone looks likely more crushed, then fractured O.o.

    keep up the good work

    Cheers
    Reneator

  6. Reneator says:

    This: “There is a chance that I’d be able to snowboard this season, a small one, but it’s there. ” sound freaking awesome :D good luck with that!

    Greetings
    Reneator

  7. Martin says:

    brilliant blog Gavin. I have no doubt you will be pulling off some sick moves sooner rather than later!

  8. Gavin says:

    @Reneator thanks :) I’m hoping the recovery is going to be good… exercising each day, and it seems to be going well. The fracture was nasty – the doctors used the phrase “shattered”!

    @Martin hey mate, thanks, and glad you like the blog. Every times there’s an update from your travels, I’m just amazed at the pictures, it looks awesome! How long before you’re coming home?

  9. 9wizard9 says:

    Good luck Gavin – great blog! I smashed my clavicle up at Castleford a year and a a half ago, resulting in several sugeries and various bits of metalwork, and have only just got around to thinking about starting again – bit wary of going back to Cas for the first time after breaking stuff, but will be doing at least a week in the alps in February.

    It’s a big mental leap getting back on a board, but hopefully both of us will manage it OK. Must say though, I’ve been debating whether I’m going back on kickers in case I stop myself boarding again – I really don’t want to miss out on any more chances to get in the mountains. Reckon I’ll probably change my mind after a few days back on a board though!

  10. Gavin says:

    Hey 9wizard9, thanks! Sounds like a nasty injury from Cas’ you got there. My friend James broke his collar bone there on a box, ouch!

    How’s the shoulder now? Did it take you a while to get it back to normal, much physio etc? I know what you mean about being wary. I think I’m lucky I didn’t do my injury on a snowboard; it’s nicely partitioned to “cycling” inside my head.

    If you’re heading out to the mountains, you don’t wanna do anything to risk that! Not that I’m advising not to hit kickers again, but it you’re wary about them, leave them for now. Like you said, after a few days back on the board, you’ll get the feel again and you’ll be queueing up for some air!

    Thanks for commenting, good luck with the shoulder and good luck with next Feb. Maybe run into you sometime at Cas’ if you’re riding their next spring/summer :) Cheers, Gavin

  11. Wow man, that is a huge break. From having Knee problems (which really isn’t the same) I would say take it slow and easy and work yourself back up. You will be right back in it in no time. Good luck with your healing, I hope you can get on a board soon!

  12. theFunction says:

    Great post, man. And some pretty incredible pics there. Stick at it – I’m really looking forward to the first post after you’ve got back on the board. :)

  13. Gavin says:

    Cheers Function! I too can’t wait for the first post after getting back on the board ;) It’s in my head that the feeling of “making up for lost time” is going to be very motivating… I hope it pans out like that!