For those who keep tabs on me, then you’ve probably already heard the news that Friday Second round at the Disney Cup in Orlando Florida I crashed and will be sidelined handful of months with a Torn ACL, Medial Meniscus and Lateral Meniscus. It was a complete bummer for me because a lot of things were falling back into place after my overtraining stint that sidelined me for 8 weeks back in March. Coming off what was a great weekend for me in Boulder City, NV making the main Sunday and missing out Saturday after not giving KY the business in the last turn for the 4th qualifying position, I was really starting to gain momentum mentally. Physcially taking over my own training program and constructing my own training ideas mixed with the well of knowledge I gained from my coaches at CTS I was able to raise my physical abilities well above anything I’ve seen in the past. Numbers wise, I was producing almost 31 watts/KG. It was clear that with that kind of ratio the only thing stopping me from becoming a contender in the main was my mental status, which i’ve really been working on daily.
I felt good in practice and was running with the top guys, again I was confident I would improve on my scores in Boulder, City. First round I was 2nd behind herm going into turn one when TB316 gave me the business dropping me back to 4th. 2nd round I went outside with Herman (outside was the best). I got out decent, was winning over the first jump but a wheelie down the backside slowed me up a bit and herman started his push for the hole shot. As we came across the table top he was getting a lil edge and before the jump into turn 1 he had enough that I chose to let off let him take his line and follow in behind him. What I wasn’t expecting is while I picked rolled the jump was herm to get a little loose and lean into me unintentionally. This caused me to spin to the left slight and a natural balance act my right foot unclipped and got extended straight out and was the first thing to hit the ground.
During the crash I had a feeling what happend was indeed about to happen. When my foot hit the ground it surged through my whole body and I remember thinking “I just blew my knee out.” After the crash was settled I remember thinking I’m alright I’m alright, I got up to take my first step and immediately fell down. My leg couldn’t hold me up. Thanks to Eric Rupe and Bill Madden for helping me out!
After getting home and letting the minimal swelling go down I had a MRI done and the results were revealed. ACL, Medial Meniscus, Lateral Meniscus. I chose to have Dr. Eric Hanson Sports MD do my operation. He is Fresno’s top sports med surgeon and has a vast amount of elite level athletes he has performed operations on. Lots that play in MLB, NFL. After speaking with them they wanted me in surgeon as soon as possible so I could return ASAP to racing. I want to thank them for rushing me through the process. Greg Mellor PA to Hanson has actually been on a few road rides with me during a race group that rides tues and thurs (the group is no joke, 28-33mph on flat) in Fresno, so him being familiar with me was a big help. Also, a big thank you to childhood friend Shana Summers who has a great relationship with both doctors that helped get me in there as well. She is actually under the knife with Hanson today for her knee. Below are some scope shots before the surgery was started.
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The first two images are my new ACL ligament given to me from a Cadaver “Achilles Tendon” graph. The doctors told me that this was becoming the standard procedure for surgeons especially amongst athletes in the past 6 months because of the fiber makeup similarities of the Achilles and native ACL. The patellar tendon and hamstring tendons are built natively with linear fiber while the ACL and Achilles have more of a carbon fiber (cycling frame makeup) you have fibers that run linearly but also you have fibers that create X’s to resist lateral forces.
The third photo is my damaged ACL. You can see where the ligament at the bottom naturally protrudes from my body it should extend all the way upward attaching at the other end just like you see it at the bottom. The ligament here has snapped and rolled into a ball (no bueno). The 4th photo is my lateral Meniscus Tear which is pretty straight forward. You can see the slice right through it, keep that photo in mind because removing that slice from the picture is what a good Meniscus should look like and the last photo shows my Medial Meniscus damage haha. Pretty much crab meat. it should look like my lateral without the slice in it. It was damaged beyond repair, they had to trim out the junk and getting it as close to normal as possible.
The biggest challenge with this whole deal was knowing my past problems with prescription pain killer abuse, what would I do for post-op pain. Long story short I declined all pain meds and it was ABSOLUTE HELL for the first 8 hours. I could totally feel where they drilled into my femur and fibula (shin) to anchor my new ligament. I made it through the immediate post-op and there after on only tylenol. Taking pain meds just wasn’t an option for me. The kids I speak to and my sobriety are always going to be number one. I could just see taking those pain meds and losing everything I worked so hard for up to this point. So I DID IT! I’m pretty stoked about that.
It’s been three weeks today since surgery and I’m moving at a rapid pace. 3-4 weeks ahead of the curve for recovery. I am back on the road bike for movement purposes and have resumed all of my other training leaving my right knee out of the equation. I was at 127 degrees flex last week and they wanted me at 120 at 4 weeks. Nothing has changed for me mentally, in fact i’ve only become more optimistic about this injury and coming back. So i consider this situation a blessing in more way than one. It’s just a test to see how bad I really want it. This is child’s play compared to my past hurdles.
I’ve learned to find inspiration from people who have battled the similar things you are going through in life. In prison I drew inspiration from Lance Armstrong and Josh Hamilton and now that I am coming back from this I have found a TON of inspiration from Wes Welker, wide receiver for New England Patriots who came back faster than most of the athletes football has seen from a ACL injury. Not only did he come back after ending his season late in 2009 he started the season opener in 2010 and now in 2011 is having one of the best recorded seasons for a WR in NFL history. Everyday I wake I feel like i’m not even injured, I feel more like i’ve just had to modify my approach to my future direction temporarily until I am ready to get back on the train tracks that were marching me toward my goals. Sorry for the long blog, thanks for reading!
THoff “Tony Hoffman”