Racing a World Cup season is hard enough on its own, but this week Wyn Masters revealed he had been racing since Maribor with an undiagnosed thoracic compression fracture on his spine. He believes he picked up the injury in his first practice run at the second race that weekend after sliding out on a clump of roots. He tried to hold on and ride it out but the force of all his weight being put through his spine led to the fracture. The crash left him struggling to walk but, as riding felt less painful, he persevered on and even qualified for Sunday's finals later that same day.
Wyn saw out the rest of the season riding with a decent amount of pain and a lot of strapping before heading to the UK to spend the winter riding its famous slop. He forgot about his back pain on all but the coldest days but a strain picked up at the gym saw him in the chiropractor's office with yet more back troubles. After Wyn mentioned the crash, he got an x-ray from the doctor and the fracture was revealed.
The fracture had already healed and Wyn is now on a program of rest and recuperation before getting back to exploring the best of the UK's riding. While he's taking some time out, we fired over some questions to get the full story:
What do you remember of the crash in Maribor? Did you take any time off or get any treatment after it?
It was my first run for the second race in Maribor and I watched a few people ride this section for a few minutes before committing to a line. The previous evening I didn’t have time for the course walk after finishing up the WynTV videos so I think I didn’t consider that I would slip on those roots coming into that section. It threw me off balance pretty good when I was trying to dab with my left foot in order to get back on line but my right foot blew out of the pedal and from there it was all downhill.
Normally in a situation like this, it's best to get off the brakes and try to ride it out. You often can get back on line and not crash, but this time letting go of the bike sooner would have been a better option as then I wouldn’t have tweaked my back. But I’d say if I was to do it again I’d still try to ride it out as more often than not that approach has worked out for me.
Literally, as I was getting up off the ground, Spanish junior Pau Menoyo came through, slipped on the same root also had a heavy crash. It definitely knocked the wind out of me pretty good and took a while to get up and get back on but I pushed back up and rolled the section pretty slowly after. Luckily, John Lawlor was there filming for VitalRAW and also my team filmer Jules Bellot was there and caught the whole thing on camera, so everyone can enjoy my scorpion and the social media armchair experts can tell me how I should have let the bike go when I crashed haha!
Was your back sore all through the race season?
Yeah, for those two remaining days in Maribor I was walking like an old man and had some pain but the pain was probably worse walking than riding which was a bonus. Our team soigneur Greg got my back taped up pretty good too which made a good difference in support but I struggled a fair bit at the second race in Maribor which was disappointing at the time as I felt like I was building momentum at the first one there. Now looking back I have more understanding why I was struggling though. Then for the two races in Lousã things were too bad, just that spot in my back was sore to touch. From then on [it has been] sore on cold days too.
My brother Ed also broke his Ulna Styloid in his wrist in his first practice run of race 1 at Maribor and then went on to smoke me both races in the battle of the brothers, but maybe we need to work on our first practice runs! Although I did once help Loic Bruni off the track from a first-run crash so you could say it happens to the best of us...
What made you go to the chiropractor last week?
Actually, I strained my back in the gym last Monday and was in pain from that so went to get it checked out. The chiropractor mentioned that it would be due to my spinal curvature becoming pretty straight due to years of riding and not enough stretching, something I definitely need to work on. Since I was there, I mentioned the crash in Maribor so he also x-rayed that area of my back, he was like, "well, I can see why you were sore you had a compression fracture right here".
Is the fracture healed now? What symptoms are you still feeling?
Yeah, he said now it's all good although it’s now looking like more of a wedge due to the compression. Actually, after a few treatments things are improving but I now have quite a bit of work to do to get my posture and spinal curvature looking better. I just have the lower back strain now but that's improving well so I look forward to getting back into it and some more UK winter slop. Actually, a couple of weeks off probably do me good as I struggle to take much time off otherwise, I just enjoy getting out on the bike too much!
Will the injury require surgery or anything like that in the future?
No, luckily it's nothing serious and I just need to now work on getting my back mobility moving a bit better. Actually it’s not a bad thing cause I don’t think I would have been so focussed on this otherwise until it became an issue later on.