Mike Woods: “I’m almost 100 percent”

Our Canadian reflects on his leg break, life in Girona, and the future

There’s never a good time to break a femur if you’re a professional cyclist. Or anyone, really. But Mike WoodsMike Woods has been shaking his head a little at how well his recovery from a career-threatening injury has progressed. The first day the authorities in Spain lifted restrictions on riding outdoors was the first day he was allowed to head to the open roads, according to his recovery process. Now, he’s feeling good on the bike, and trending toward being able to race hard again when the season resumes. We caught up with Mike, hear from him below. 

How’s your recovery going?

Great, I’m almost 100%. I can’t run yet, but I can do everything else. I can walk around with my daughter Max, and I can ride my bike. It’s as if there’s nothing, I feel completely normal on the bike again, so I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made.

So is it safe to say that your recovery has been faster than anticipated?

Yes. I think there are a few reasons for that. One, I was really lucky to get some help from a physio named Richard Spink who lives in the area. He’s come by my house five to six times per week throughout the process. Those first few weeks he really worked on bending me in ways that were just awfully uncomfortable, and focused on increasing my range of motion each day. Some of these sessions were brutal, but it made a huge difference. He got me to a place where I could get my knee over the bike two weeks after getting injured. Being able to get on the bike was huge and hugely increased my rate of healing. I was moving all of a sudden, and it also really helped my mental health, because I could actually do something as opposed to just sitting on the couch.

 

I could easily have seen it go another way which could easily have happened under quarantine. But the team doctors were great in terms of getting Rich a note that got him approval from the government to come see me and Rich was kind enough to take that risk. If I didn’t have that access, I could easily have been sitting around and stiffened up, and then I don’t think I would have been able to get my leg over a bike for months.

How have you handled all the ups and downs of the recovery process? Going from thinking that your season was probably over, to a successful recovery and hopes for an end of season comeback must be huge.

Yeah. It’s been really weird. It’s crazy the luck that I’ve had and the misfortune that I’ve had at the same time. Breaking your femur is not a lucky thing obviously. It’s rough, it hurts, it was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever gone through. It was painful for a lot of reasons, like painful lying up beside the road because of the actual act of breaking it, but also on the side of the road waiting for them to come. Being with Charly Wegelius, and just immediately thinking of the Olympics, thinking of the Tour, and those things just completely being jeopardized. It hurt to think that all those big dreams and goals that I had were now gone. That was probably the lowest moment in this whole injury period. But then going from that to ending up in the hospital and seeing nurses and doctors with masks everywhere and realizing how insignificant my injury was relative to what was going on really put things in perspective.

 

And since then there’s been a lot of emotional ups and downs, but predominantly they’ve just been ups. It’s like, “Okay, yeah, the Olympics might not happen for me, but then wait a second, the Olympics aren’t happening this year.” Or the Grand Tours, everything’s been delayed and then the first day I’m allowed to ride outside is the first day that the Spanish government lets us ride outside after the lockdown was over. This entire time, although it was tough not being able to move around and get outside, I was still able to spend a boatload of time with my daughter. I wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time with my daughter had I not had this injury with our travel schedule and training.

What have you learned about yourself, or about your relationship, or about your daughter in this time that maybe you wouldn’t have?

I think it has put a lot of things into perspective. It’s made me realize how important it has been to be present with Max. I think it made me realize what’s most important to me.

Are you doing the kind of numbers that you’re happy with at this point, given where you’re at? Or do you still have a long way to go?

Yeah, I’m doing the same numbers. Basically, I see this as if it was late October, early November, and I’m doing the Tour Down Under in January. I’m sitting on the bike and I have the same sensations, and the same weight. There’s a bit of a power discrepancy between my left and right leg, but it’s pretty close to being equal now. I think given the runway that I have, I know I can always get fit in two months. I’m a responder. I’m a responder in good ways and bad ways. I can be the worst athlete ever if I take time off, and then I can be one of the best riders in the world if you give me a two months runway of hard work.

We can’t wait to see you back in the peloton, Mike.