Back on the Bike: Injury and Recovery with Rachel Throop

Jan 13, 2016 at 9:25
by Dan Severson  
Last time we checked in with Rachel, she was just transitioning out of a full time job and making the big decision to pursue racing full-time. In between that time she has been making a big push and upped her race schedule and training program. Even though a major injury last year brought a short end to her season, she has still managed to secure herself as an official member of the GT Factory racing team for 2016 along side fellow female rider Anneke Beerten. We sat down with her to get the story about her injury, the steps she's taking for recovery, and a look into what changes this year holds. Enjoy!


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


Tell us about the accident. I understand you were racing in Park City, Utah, during the crash? What happened?

It was stupid really. Well, aren't most crashes? I had just gotten home from Crankworx and had a pretty rough crash up there injuring my wrist. I was so obsessed with finishing out my planned season on top, once I got home I should have listened to my body and taken a week off. But instead I got right back in my SUV and drove the 10 hours to Park City. During Friday's practice, I was feeling great, surprisingly. My mind was solid on the technical tracks and physically I felt strong. Towards the bottom of a couple stages you came into a 4 berm section. I pressed hard into the dirt on the first 3, but on the 4th one my front tire didn't hold and I washed out. The berm was so much looser than the previous 3, I just forgot and carried way too much speed. It happened so fast I just remember an immediate, direct impact and then felt the wind knocked out of me. My body and bike barely moved once I hit the dirt, which is sometimes the worst thing that can happen. The energy from the crash was dispersed solely into one area, my right knee!


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


When did you realize how bad it was? How did that affect the rest of your race season?

I tried to get up immediately and act like everything was cool, but my body had other ideas. That's when I knew it was bad. Last year at Whistler I crashed and ruptured my Bursa Sac in my right knee which hurt a lot! But this was like 10 times worse. I wanted to throw up, but at that point people were gathering around me so I just tried to play cool. The worst part besides the pain was that I was all alone! And all my friends were practicing and I drove up by myself. Kyle was in Canada and my family back in California. I was thinking how the hell am I going to get to the hospital. Thankfully my buddy Anne Galyean had practiced the day before a bit and came to my rescue! She was like an angel! I've been racing since I was 10 and have never broken a bone. I thought for sure I blew a ligament. I never thought it was broken, because once I got to the hospital and was in the waiting room the pain kind of just stopped. When we got the X-ray back the doctor notified me I shattered by Tibial Plateau! I didn't even know what the hell that was. He said I would need surgery that Monday and I was lucky I did it in Park City since the orthopedic surgeons see that injury quite often.

My season was over, which obviously sucked but ironically on that exact same day, minutes apart, Kyle received a call from our Realtor that we got the house of our dreams! So at least, I was able to focus on something else for a bit.


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


How long was it before you started the recovery process of getting your leg back in shape?

I was in a full leg cast/splint for 6 weeks. Non-weight bearing with minimal bending. I ended up not needed surgery which was amazing. The surgeon said it was in fact shattered in 5 places, but that bones were all within 3mm of each other. He explained that over time they will find their way back and mend even stronger than before. I got a second opinion when I got back home and Dr. Murphy said the same thing. After the 6 weeks were up I began bending my leg to 45 degrees, then to 90 and so on. After I ditched the crutches I had a pretty awesome cane that my 80-year-old grandma gave me. The day before I left to Rampage I was given the okay to walk without the cane which worked out perfectly. I was right at 2 months post break and things were really healing beautifully. Even though my season was over it was nice to be able to still go out there and support Kyle! At that point I had been driving him nuts. Going from 100% self-sufficient to needing help getting into the shower left me quite edgy at times!


I understand you are working with a personal trainer now, three times a week. What made you choose the Rynopower gym?

After getting the okay to start physical therapy, I started working with Ryan "Ryno" Hughes right away. I knew I didn't want to waste any time getting back on the bike. My legs are skinny, but after not using my right one for almost two months, I swear our lab Frank had bigger legs. Ryno has lots of experience dealing with his own injuries from MX and was able to formulate a very minimal and easy workout plan to start. We started small and just added different movements and exercises on each week as I got stronger. Ryno focuses a lot on balance training and hand-eye coordination, things that are necessary to be successful on the bike.

I also struggle with being an aggressive and confident racer, both things Ryno was really good at while racing. We have been working on mental strength just as hard as the physical. Rynopower Gym offers a lot more than just your standard training regiment. It is a place that you can go and be surrounded with like-minded athletes. When you leave there you feel encouraged and inspired to push harder.


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


What does your training routine consist of?

3 times a week I do a structured circuit workout targeting all the muscles used for riding. The training programs build on each other and really show progression. They encompass weights, balance exercises, strength movements, mental strength training, hand-eye coordination training and a bunch of other secret stuff! The workouts are definitely hard and intense, but so is racing, so you can't be afraid of a little pain in the gym.


How big of a role does diet and nutrition play in your training?

I live by the rule, "What you put into your body, you get out of your body!" I do not live by any strict diets or nutrition plans, I just try and eat healthy with a very balanced diet. Lots of green veggies and high protein meals. To be honest, the biggest role diet plays in my life is making sure I eat enough. I am a tiny person! This year I set a goal to gain 5 pounds in the off season, bumping me up to a big 115 pounds, lol! It has been freaking impossible! My metabolism is on a whole different planet. I know I shouldn't complain and one day I will be grateful, but I know the extra strength and weight will only help!


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop
Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


How important is stretching and flexibility?

Both stretching and flexibility are very important. When muscles are tight your body is at a higher risk of injury. I have a bad lower back. Sometimes when my hamstrings are really tight my back hurts more than normal. Stretching also increases blood flow to the muscles!


Sometimes after a big injury, it's harder to come back mentally than it is psyically. Tell us a bit about the process of gaining your confidence back?

My body healed in two and a half months. The bones mended back together and according to the Doc are stronger than they were before. But even though I know all this, and know the biggest pain of the entire thing was that I wasn't self-sufficient for a couple months, I am still freaking struggling mentally! This was my first big injury, so maybe that has something to do with it, but I have still been nervous to hit drops and technical sections that I was able to do last year. I'm not embarrassed to admit it. Everyone deals with things their own way, I am just more frustrated at this point.

I told myself I just have to be used to being uncomfortable more often on the bike. I recently started riding my Moto again which has been a great confidence booster. I know that by the time the season starts I will be where I want to be mentally, it was just a shocker that it is taking longer to get over.


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop
Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


You're back on GT again this year, but this time as an official member of the factory racing team. Tell us a bit about the team dynamic and how you feel about being on the Factory team?

When I first found out I had been selected to join the GT Factory Team I was ecstatic! As a California native, I have always been prideful to ride for a brand started in my home state. But now to be representing them as a Factory rider, I mean shit, dreams do come true. I left my job at Crankbrothers to ride my bike professionally and make enough money to live off. This year it became a reality!

So how do I feel? I feel stoked and excited and also a little nervous because when I look at my team mates I realize I am grouped in with a pretty bad ass group of riders. Riders who all have amazing personalities to match their amazing skills! I mean GT really nailed it in the hiring process and put together a marketing master piece! Winning races and getting on the podium is really, really important, but so is your personality. Cause at the end of the day we can't win every race. I haven't even met all the team mates yet, but I can tell you this, they have already inspired me to train harder and ride faster. I mean, I don't want to be the slowest one at Team Camp next month, lol!


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop
Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


What does your race calendar look like this year? Any major changes or additions from last year?

This year I will be competing in 4 EWS events (Chile, Argentina, Colorado, and Whistler), the Big Mountain Enduros, and the SoCal Enduro series. I am really excited to be heading back to South America. Last year was my first time to Chile and I absolutely loved it! The country is beautiful and the people are so nice and hospitable. It is going to be a great season!


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop
Putting the time in here.
Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop
To see the results out here.


Will you be entering any race disciplines other than Enduro?

I was thinking of maybe racing some dual slalom at Nationals or Sea Otter, try it out. I have a pretty good coach, it's just getting me to listen to all of his advice is the problem.


What venues are you most excited about?

I am really looking forward to the newly added Pacific North West stop of the BME tour this year. They haven't announced where exactly it is yet, but from what have seen of the riding up there, any spot will be awesome! I am also looking forward to heading back to Rotorua and hopefully improving my result there.


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


In your opinion, what area of your riding would you like to improve on the most?

Oh Gosh, well, after last season I realized I have no idea how to ride in wet roots, so I would really like to improve that! We don't have roots here in SoCal. In February, I am heading up to Bellingham to go ride with my best friend Ella who is staying there this winter! I know that place has roots so hopefully, I will get a bit better!


Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop
Images for the article - Injury and recovery with Rachel Throop


You're getting close to "tying the knot", how's everything going with the wedding plans? Are you guys getting married in full bike gear or going the traditional route?

Oh ya this November! I am soon to be Strait, lol! Planning is going good. So far no stressing out or Bridezilla moments, but we aren't anywhere near crunch time yet, so I am sure at least one break down will happen. We are definitely not having anything bike related at the wedding. Mountain biking is our passion, but it is also our job, so at the end of the day you have to know when to leave work at home. Which is one reason why I think Kyle and I get along so well, we both understand that. It was kind of funny though. When we were picking out our venue, the women giving us the tour told us how one time a groom rode his bike down this steep embankment into the ceremony. She looked at Kyle and asked, "is that something you would be interested in doing?!" We both just laughed.

Thanks to GT bicycles, Sombrio, Vittoria tires, SRAM, Rockshox, Ergon, Alpinestars, Bell helmets, Oakley, FiveTen, RynoPower, and Crankbrothers for all the support to make my dreams happen.

Congrats and good look with the 2016 season Rachel!



MENTIONS: @danyul / @RynoPower / @GTBicycles / @SombrioCartel / @beefeater / @vittoria / @SramMedia /@ergonbike / @AlpinestarsMTB / @BellBikeHelmets / @oakley / @FiveTen / @crankbrothers




113 Comments

  • + 115
 Her biceps > my biceps
  • + 13
 I can relate
  • + 3
 Come on bro, you are not that ripped Wink
  • + 1
 she does make my biceps look like slim jims
  • + 75
 She's a Trooper! I hope her leg heals Strait.
  • + 20
 A Throoper for sure!
  • + 2
 for the neg props i dont geet it
  • - 5
flag mountainbiker929 (Jan 25, 2016 at 16:32) (Below Threshold)
 Her husband (I think) is Kyle Strait
  • - 1
 oh okay
  • - 7
flag pancakeflatted (Jan 26, 2016 at 6:59) (Below Threshold)
 She should take a knee and thank GT for their thupport.
  • + 1
 @PANCAKEFLATTED FAIL JOKE ATTEMPT
  • + 5
 @kashima dude. it's a pun. that's what this part of the comment thread was about until YOU muffed it all up
  • + 3
 Kashima did'nt think it was punny. Wink
  • - 4
flag Kashima (Jan 26, 2016 at 18:14) (Below Threshold)
 yea im the party pooper but u can thank me later
  • + 3
 yeah. cuz this website isn't about having fun or anything...whatatool
  • + 47
 Kyle, you one lucky SOB!! Good luck to you both!!
  • + 27
 She busts up her knee then goes riding with no knee pads on? Kyle is one lucky guy though.....
  • + 2
 Ya the new crop of light/flexible pads w/d30 or similiar are a no brainer for me.
  • + 17
 www.rootsandrain.com/rider40605/rachel-throop/results

man I wish I could go full factory finishing mid pack.
  • + 2
 Crazy.
  • + 10
 pretty girls get clicks... results are secondary.
  • + 53
 Rachel is actually one of the fastest North American Enduro racers and her career is just starting. GT is smart to invest in rising talent and she is getting faster and faster with every passing weekend. Definitely one of the better spoken people and someone who is 100% focused on her riding. Without a doubt, she is one of the top 3 North American Enduro racers to watch out for in the coming years.
  • + 15
 Well said, @deityusa. I wholeheartedly agree! Rachel is a wonderful ambassador for the sport and a force to be reckoned with on the bike. I enjoy racing with her and she always teaches me better ways to be a productive member of the MTB industry.
  • + 6
 And I'm sure teaming up with Anneke Beerten will really help her too - consummate pro showing her the ropes.
  • + 10
 She's a bit like Hannah Barnes, not going to lie very attractive which obviously attracts an audience. They are very good with social media, this is a very good way of advertisement. They are both chatty and nice people to be around, if people like being around you then thats more time looking at some nice products which will end up triggering "I've been good this month" and treat yourself. Apart from all that they are fast chicks!
  • - 2
 Also, makes full factory team but says she has no idea how to ride wet roots. Looks count for something, I guess.
  • + 2
 Amazing style on a bike, if you haven't seen her ride. Def a shredder. Got some a real talent around her. Hope she stays healthy and kicks some ass this yr.
  • + 4
 Rachel is an amazing athlete and it is truly a pleasure to work with her at GT. I can confidently say her looks have nothing to do with her factory ride, and everything to do with her athleticism and results, hard work, and being a great ambassador for GT.
  • + 1
 @sicmoto You mad cause she ain't Tai Lee Muxlow? Maybe she's butt ugly and the photographer is just a flipping ninja!

Lauren Daney is a good looking downhiller...and stands on the 1st step. Should we just blur the pretty ones out?
  • + 2
 Dang...never mind. Looks like Pinkbike ran her off. Don't even see a profile on here for Lauren anymore.
  • + 2
 @bizutch I have nothing against attractive girls being sponsored, but it is frankly sexist for mediocre attractive girls to be attractive. I finished my first race season on home soil recently, and got decent results and will be doing my best to get a few wins this season, but I know I shouldn't be on any factory team. I'm sure she is a great person, and probably good on the bike, but results speak for themselves. All the best to her though, wish I could get away with it.
  • + 1
 *to be sponsored
  • + 1
 @davidsimons

we can just chalk that one up to humility
  • + 11
 motocross.transworld.net/videos/pinned-up-rachel-throop/#jLlPEvJoQg7wP0fD.97

she's very professional in a bikini for a motocross thing. wouldn't u say @deityusa ?? please explain this to me?? hahaha
  • + 4
 nice find!
  • + 2
 Much as I don't think looking good in your underwear should be a prerequisite for getting sponsorships as a professional athlete, let's all google David Beckham for a minute before exclusively following "pretty" with "girls" in statements like "pretty girls get clicks, results are secondary." It's human nature across the board... Sponsors want to move units, not protect the sanctity of sport from our dirty minds, and if great abs sell, well, ya can't argue with the invisible hand of the market.
  • + 2
 she definitely blonde and beauty .. and her riding is better than me, and you! . LOL
  • + 2
 She's hot!
  • + 1
 @ryetoast, Beckham 's trothy cabinet serves to completely rubbish your statement. I get the sentiment, but the comparison is ludicrous.
  • + 2
 Becks was an advertiser's wet dream, until he opened his mouth. Skills are obviously more important than looks though, because Rooney picked up where Becks left off and he's one of the ugliest guys in football. Tevez surely takes that accolade but he's no slouch in the marketing stakes either. I wonder why. Oh yes, he's pretty handy at kicking a ball.
  • + 3
 Holy crap. How do I unsubscribe from Beckham secret lovers talk?
  • + 1
 @bizutch, you can't, you're trapped in Hell! Everyone else, are you saying skill is more important than looks for male athletes but not for female athletes, or that athletes of any gender earn the right to be in their underwear on a billboard only after earning a certain number of trophies? My point wasn't to compare this lady's Trophy collection to Beckhams but just to say that it seems unfair to sh*t on female athletes for being pretty when plenty of male athletes have gone on to be models or whatever and no one suggests they've done anything immoral.
  • + 5
 @ryetoast my point is simply that you shouldn't be on a factory team based on your looks and sex appeal, male or female. Rachel's results are mediocre, she might shred, she might have had crappy luck at races, but results are what counts. The same applies to others, www.rootsandrain.com/rider19803/hannah-barnes/results

This is not a reflection on the personalities of these people, they are probably really great, I'm just commenting on the aesthetic nature of our sport and how I completely disagree with it.
  • + 4
 @sicmoto i'm definitely in the same boat. I hate the instagram selfie generation and hate seeing it spilling over into this sport. go try do that with snowboard and surfing. even then, those are some gnarly ass chicks in the snow and surf magazines, edits, etc that are on a higher level than these mediocre mtber girls. I root for girls who kill it. Rachel Atherton, Casey, Tahnee, Moseley, etc. This is MTB not a f*cking gap commercial. If I want smut I'll go to the million other smut sites like the chive or w.e.
  • + 4
 @makripper agreed. Hopefully she will have an amazing season and prove me wrong.
  • + 3
 Ehh, so much for playing devil's advocate. @sicmoto I totally agree with you, especially your last statement there... and I swear to god, an instagram-induced global avalanche of narcissism is going to bring about the fall of human civilization one of these days. *shakes cane at kids*

It's frightening to think that the next Rachel Atherton might be stuck in the open class with no sponsors because she looks like Boris Karloff and will have to spend the rest of her youth making telemarketing calls instead of winning races because nobody thinks her face can sell an energy drink. But I try not to dwell on these things, because that is how you turn into an embittered old hag.
  • + 1
 Scary truth @ryetoast it's where everything is going. It's why pop is pop... (music).. I am going to quite biking if this keeps going the way it's going.
  • - 3
 I'm all for getting more hot chicks in bikinis in the mtb press. You're right about Rachel Atherton being awesome, and she is awesome compared to girls, but that's because she's a bloke. Compared to blokes she's not that great.
  • + 13
 Girlfriend like that one please
  • + 12
 @CallumAlloAllanson

my chick rides, I tried for years to get her into Mountain Biking but she hated it, and finally found road biking which she loves!

ep1.pinkbike.org/p6pb12315622/p5pb12315622.jpg

the cool thing is I can go road riding with her (and her friends), but mountain biking is my special thing with my buddies Wink
  • + 2
 With all due respect, I agree 100% with @CallumAlloAllanson's comment, a girlfriend like Rachel for sure! Kudos to her and her recovery!
  • + 2
 edit:
  • + 2
 @hampsteadbandit you are one lucky guy!
  • + 9
 Dang, she's ripped! Hope you have a continued speedy recovery and look forward to watching you kill it again this season. ..and congrats to you and Kyle!
  • + 5
 I know what she is talking about when she says she needs to listen her coach's advice. I try and teach my wife to be a better rider = Met with pushback and told I'm not good at coaching. Buddy asks me to help him teach his GF since he is having the same problem. I do the exact same stuff with her that I did with my wife = Told I'm an amazing coach and she has never made that much progress on the bike before. I am a big believer in getting another woman or friend to teach the person you are in a relationship with.
  • + 3
 Couldnt agree more. I give my wife tips and get my face eaten off. I give my bros or other girls advice and its all smiles..... Really wish my wife would realize how much it sucks getting yelled at when you are just trying to help her.....
  • + 3
 Late to the party but as a girlfriend who was taught to ride a dirt bike by her boyfriend I just had to say... DON'T DO IT!!! You can't imagine how frustrating this situation is from the other end (just as we can't imagine how thankless and miserable it is to be you, trying to help and getting a helmet pitched at you for your pains, you poor b*stards!) Picking up a physically demanding, technical, and frequently terrifying sport as an adult is frustrating enough without getting your relationship dynamics tangled up in it--and besides, lessons at the local bike park make a thoughtful and fun birthday gift and are cheaper than couples therapy. Big Grin

PS Once I stopped crashing the MX bike every other second, riding with--as opposed to being coached by--the boyfriend was a joy. Just give her some space, encouragement, and patience--it'll be worth it eventually.
  • + 2
 i try to keep my space but she keeps catching up with me now...... Smile
  • + 2
 My wife just hit me with this comment "I wish I was good at mountain biking." So I decided to share this little comment exchange with her (she won't divorce me for what I said just yet). She laughed her ass off and totally agrees with what you both were saying.
  • + 6
 Yeah, hospital buddy! So happy that you're all healed up and can't wait to see you crush it this year. You rock. Looking forward to riding with you again!
  • + 7
 She's so average.........SAID NO ONE EVER!
  • + 7
 That garage....decked out!
  • + 4
 haha I'm with you. Already have a wife. But I don't have a garage like that.
  • + 2
 Glad to hear you are recovering well. At the end of the season I completely blew my ACL, MCL, and split my meniscus in half. Was one of the more grueling injuries I've dealt with so I know the pain. Even harder than recovering though is not being able to ride when everyone else is, knowing the only thing you can do is focus on recovering properly so you get to do it again. Good luck this season, I know I'm hoping the next 4 months go quick so I can ride again too!
  • + 2
 Rachel's a freaking powerhouse. Impressive that a woman her size and weight can manhandle bikes to top spots in national races. Proof that you don't need to be an Atherton or a Graves body type to be competitive.
  • + 4
 Hmm maybe I should start doing upper body workouts so I can look as awesome as her...instead of all like Softy McSofts.
  • + 1
 Good luck Rachel! Ah she'll be fine! but its a tough injury. I busted my left Tibial plateau, longboarding in 2000. 6 screws and a couple plates and its good as new, as long as the temperature is above 55.
  • + 1
 >> It was stupid really. Well, aren't most crashes?
bingo. It seems when the risk is greatest, we're aware of it and laser focused. Then you clip a pedal or blow a berm and do something debilitating.
  • + 2
 "I've been racing since I was 10 and have never broken a bone."......

That moment when sh*t gets real and you realize you ain't a kid anymore.
  • + 3
 Awkward moment if you're the guy who rode his bike down the embankment at his ceremony and are reading this.
  • + 1
 This friend staying in Bellingham names Ella... From Vermont? If so, gotta represent VT Mtb and if you want to learn how to ride wet roots Vermont is your place
  • + 1
 "The energy from the crash was dispersed solely into one area, my right knee!"

i cringed. more than i should have, probably. ouch.
  • + 1
 And I instantly wondered which knee pad she had on?
  • + 3
 Strait is a lucky guy!! And Rachel a super ambasador for MTB !!
  • + 3
 Pinkbike award for the most perfect girlfriend
  • + 1
 What bike is she going to ride in the EWS? Figured a Sanction, but that looks like a Sensor?
  • + 2
 I bet kyle finishes before her though. (In a race you perves)
  • + 1
 Every time I see her I can't believe a girl can be so pretty and shred so hard on a bike at the same time.
  • + 2
 anyone else see those lace-up kestrels!!
  • + 1
 I think you can replace the boa with laces if you like. I have a pair if fizik m5 with boa, theres room for laces too. I like the five ten rubber but the shoes dont last me very long.
  • + 1
 I want to ride that trail she's on. Probably out in Alpine. So close yet so far away.
  • + 2
 I bet she is still faster than me riding that rascal with a busted leg!
  • + 2
 Move over Marshawn Lynch, there is a new Beast Mode
  • + 4
 She's only there so GT don't fine her
  • + 1
 Fines I get it! Your average Belgian MTBer will just have to wonder.......
  • + 1
 Fair shout Mr Straight, you are punching son!
  • + 1
 Lifting weights barefoot...that makes me shudder
  • + 7
 Shoes are for pussies!
  • + 4
 If you lift heavy enough shoes aren't going to protect you from shit.
  • + 1
 Good form and power comes from the feet up. Think Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali. Strong feet make you a better cyclist - more able to transfer your leg drive to your pedals. You are also less likely to have knee and back problems with strong feet.
  • + 1
 She is such a strong woman.All the best,get well soon!
  • + 1
 bem gatinha!!!!!!
  • + 0
 fk she is more ripped than i thought
  • + 0
 I would definitely wear bike gear.
  • + 1
 ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
  • + 3
 hey bill
  • - 1
 is it HOT in here or is it just me?
  • - 3
 Sometimes I wish I were a bicycle seat...Did I just write out loud!
  • + 3
 because then you would be useful?
  • - 1
 Nice knees... Smile
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