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The Pinkbike Podcast: Alicia Leggett on Her Big Crash, Head Injury, & Recovery

Apr 6, 2023 at 12:46
by Mike Levy  
Art by Taj Mihelich

Pinkbike editor Alicia Leggett was in Bellingham last September when she went down hard on the Blue Steel jump line, suffering such a severe traumatic brain injury that a priest was called to perform last rites which, thankfully, weren't needed. Check out 'I Crashed Hard - A Post-Injury Update from Alicia' to read her own account of the accident and recovery.

Today's show sees Alicia and I chat about her crash and subsequent coma, recovering from a TBI, and looking forward.

April 7th, 2023

A coma, a priest, a miraculous recovery, and looking forward.

Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.

Subscribe to the podcast via your preferred service (Apple, Spotify, RSS, Megaphone, etc.), or visit the Pinkbike Podcast tag page for the complete list of episodes.

Author Info:
mikelevy avatar

Member since Oct 18, 2005
2,032 articles

  • 147 3
 My heart is warmed by hearing this awesome being’s voice ❤️
  • 138 0
 If you’re looking for something Alicia can do coming back to work, put her on the podcast as a regular. She’s well spoken and the tone and timbre of her voice is easy on the ears. It’s great to hear her again and glad she’s doing well!
  • 84 1
 Thanks for the honesty and for presenting another example of why helmets and proper head injury care and recovery are so important. Hopefully it stirs many toward better preventative measures, and inspires and gives hope to those going through the battle. Hoping your recovery continues, slowly but surely. Take care out there!
  • 2 1
 @catfish9797: I don't know who neg. repped you for that post.
It must have been an accident.
  • 52 0
 I've been following your situation since the crash, Alicia, but avoided commenting until now. As a fellow recovering recipient of a severe TBI, it's been too raw too say anything.

I'm so, so glad you're improving. The journey isn't easy, but it definitely makes you look at life a whole lot differently.

It's great that you're playing music, too; it's really helpful for reconnecting neural pathways. My rehab team was thrilled to hear that I'm a former professional musician, since it meant they didn't have to arrange getting me an instrument.

Always happy to connect if you want to compare notes. Keep going, the work is worth it.

  • 13 0
 I hope you have a community that has and does surround you. Wishing you all the best.
  • 16 0
 @rrolly: Thank you! I'm fortunate enough to now be in pretty good shape, all things considered. But during the worst of it, my wife was the rock that kept me grounded.

She was also the one following behind me when the accident happened and called in my evac. I owe a lot to that woman.
  • 6 0
 Same. Major TBI in 1999. Playing an instrument was about the only thing I could still do afterwards. Could not read more than a sentence at a time, months of rehab. It was two years before I could play on stage but playing music kept me from loosing all hope during that time. 24 years later I still deal with some of the effects of the injury but I can ride my bike and play music and that has kept me sane!
  • 1 0
 @DrRiptide: Concussions suck. Not just in the usual injury suckiness, but in a far more personal and scary way. One of the most difficult parts of having a concussion is the fact that the science of recovery is so new. I can't tell you how many doctors I've been to, only for them to throw up their hands. I wish that we could have better, more consistent, and proven ways of recovery.
  • 4 0
 Hey Duncan,

I'm so sorry that you've been going through a similar injury. It's no fun. (Sorry too for how long it's taken me to respond to this.)

I'm likewise glad to hear that you're healing and are playing music. Keep it up and feel free to reach out if you need to talk with someone in a similar situation.

Take care,

  • 27 0
 Great conversation! Stay positive Alicia; its a new adventure, the pieces will all fall into place (whatever those may be). I think being open about the struggles/challenges that come with recovery (like doing this podcast) will help countless others who are silently going through their own hardships.
  • 26 1
 I honestly don’t think I’ll be able to listen to this one without crying
  • 23 2
 Hell yes for Alicia's recovery, bummer for no pods in 2 weeks but hell yes again for yet another pod. As Chair of the OCD PB Pod Crew - I approve, and now I can sleep again. I'm still lobbying for 2 casts per week (one Q&A would be low hanging fruit ya know) but mostly - glad to hear Alicia's recovering well - a great way to wrap up this week.

We missed you a lot Alicia - hoping to hear you'll be back on the cast, online & on the bike soon.
  • 31 0
 We recorded a Taipei show video pod wrap up last week but weren’t that happy with it so we scrapped it.

We’ll get into some new stuff next week and then sea otter.
  • 9 0

Hoping to see Alicia back contributing to PB as soon as she is ready!!
  • 5 0
 @brianpark: Word: OCD PB Pod Crew Chair can wait patiently. Any word on maybe converting the Talk Show to pods as well? I'm sure there's more to it but - had to ask (again).
  • 12 0
 @brianpark: quality over quantity please!!!
I really enjoy the ones that feature a lot of storytelling. Like the ine where RC had that police chase..so good
  • 6 0
 @housem8d: yeah, the RC episodes are the best
  • 2 0
 @housem8d: more RC!
  • 1 0
 @ABhardtail: a heads up - RC retired, though I don't see why he can't be on pods here & there. Any pods he was in or was the focus of were baller.
  • 1 0
 @surveying: a heads up - RC retired, though I don't see why he can't be on pods here & there. Any pods he was in or was the focus of were baller.
  • 1 0
 @brianpark: Speaking personally, I'd say good call. Quality over quantity.
  • 2 0
 speaking of barely audible non sensical rants from Quinney, I hope the pinkbike racing bucket boys will be returning this year.
  • 22 0
 It makes me happy to hear the amazing progress Alicia is making.
  • 11 0
 I loved this episode and I'm trying to figure out why. I think it was because it felt like Alicia just walked into a room filled with kids and spoke as a mature and thoughtful adult. For me, if we are going to be honest about it, the mountain bike community really struggles to talk honestly about what it's like to have a life changing injury. So often, riders seem to either want to capitalize on injuries or are unable to acknowledge how injuries have changed them permanently. After someone almost dies or finds their lives forever altered, it seems more than mature and reasonable to take a step back, slow down, and evaluate how life will be different going forward. There is a depth and honesty to Alicia's experiences that is refreshing. Thanks for sharing your story and how you are figuring out how to move forward without being foolhardy or denying that life and relationships will be different now. Imagine that is scary to admit out loud but I'm so grateful you did.
  • 10 0
 Such a great episode. So good to hear about the Alicia's progress and the honesty about invisible injuries and the road to recovery. Having had a (less severe) TBI, I can relate to many of the challenges and it is great to hear someone talking about them in a setting like this.
Also, so uplifting to hear the banter between two good friends discussing serious topics. Laughter really can be some of the best medicine.
Thanks @alicialeggett and @mikelevy
  • 8 0
 This was, by a long shot, my favorite episode of the podcast.

I got to know Alicia a bit on the last Trans Cascadia. She's such a nice, interesting person, with an interesting background. I think, for example, we found out that we're both classical music nerds - which was unexpected in the IPA-soaked bro'fest that is the TC. (Not that I have anything against IPA-soaked bro'fests).

She also ripped (and took 3rd in pro women with a broken wrist).

I was gutted to hear about her accident, and it's been great to get positive news about her recovery.

Alicia's response to a life-altering (and nearly life-ending) accident is just so damned positive and healthy sounding. I expect that if I missed a season due to something like a broken collar bone I'd be more pissed off than Alicia is at months of hospitalization and rehab.

I could definitely stand to learn something there.

To me, post-accident Alicia on the podcast seems even more calm and grounded than pre-accident Alicia.

I don't know how you go through something like that, and come out more calm and grounded.

Like others have said, she's also just a damn good podcast guest. I like Quinney's grumpiness and hot takes as much as the next pessimist, but we could use a little more positivity to balance things out.

"Inspirational" is such an overused term, but Alicia's recovery really is that. Thanks for sharing it with us.
  • 3 0
 Hey hey! What a cool trip down memory lane. (Even though I've lost some memory, I can still look back fondly on that IPA-soaked bro'fest.) I really appreciate your kindness here! And am so glad to be on my way to recovery, even though I hardly know what that means at this point. I'll be back, both to Pinkbike and to more cool bike events. I hope you're doing well!
  • 11 0
 Unbelievable!! So glad to hear the progress
  • 8 0
 You are strong! Healing vibes to Alicia.

What are you playing on guitar?
  • 84 0
 Honestly, I'm mostly just relearning songs I used to play back in the day. The Led Zeppelin song 'Over the Hills and Far Away' is probably my favorite and kind of sentimental because I think my first memory is hearing my dad play that on guitar when I was like 2. 'Blackbird' and 'Here Comes the Sun' by The Beatles are other common ones. Plus dumb chord progressions I've made up. Very open to recommendations of others' favorites to learn. Also, thank you for the kind words! The support means the world to me. I'll be back.
  • 6 0
 @alicialeggett: Dumb chord progressions you've made up are the BEST.
  • 2 0
 @alicialeggett: nice! For some reason I thought you might say Les Zep. Rain Song is a favourite of mine for acoustic, those chords are soothing no matter how you play them. I got into guitar trying to copy my dad playing Take It Easy, Lyin Eyes and Sweet Home Alabama.
  • 1 0
 @alicialeggett: I always loved The Album Wish you were here. And you Are. Congrats!! If I could play
guitar it would be David Gilmour on a 12 string, playing Wish You Were Here.
  • 1 0
 @alicialeggett: khruangbin is pretty fun to play and it sounds a lot harder to play than it actually is.
  • 7 0
 So nice to hear your voice again and I wish you the better and the fastest recovery as possible.
  • 5 0
 I’m so glad you’re ok! As someone who had a head injury, but to a lesser degree, it’s great to hear you’re ok. It’s a rough journey for a smaller TBI! Good luck on the rest of your healing journey.
  • 4 0
 I'm actually looking forward to my commute home so I can listen to this. This warms my heart so much. I've been following Alicia's story and I'm really happy to see she's on the pod again. Sending healing vibes your way! Thanks for sharing your story Smile
  • 6 0
 It's so good to hear you again, Alicia, and thank you all at Pinkbike for this podcast. Alicia, you are an amazing person. Take good care of yourself!
  • 4 0
 I remember when this happened and the GoFundMe came out with all the updates, people were so outraged that PB wasn’t mentioning anything about it. Of course PB wanted to give Alicia and her family some privacy, but you could tell the pinkers were truly concerned!
  • 4 0
 It's wonderful to hear Alicia being back and having come out of this seemingly in such a great state. I have a good friend with TBI from a car crash who never was the same again afterwards. Processing thoughts normally and quickly is already such a great basis to build upon further. All the best for you Alicia to get back to the things you love doing.
  • 4 0
 Words can't describe how happy we all are to hear your voice again,Alicia. Just now that we started to discover your awesome writing and insightful opinions,life took you on a bumpy and twisty road,but we all know you will be back! Take your time and heal right,maybe get in touch with someone who has gone through the same,like Anneke Berteen,she had a tough time but seems to be almost fully recovered. Healing vibes from Portugal.
  • 4 0
 This is so heartwarming. Very glad to hear Alicia back on the podcast. Despite the serious subject matter, some genuine laugh-out-loud moments in this too; like the comment that it only took TBI to make her a gravel biker! Looking forward to hearing/seeing more of Alicia on this platform when the time is right. All the best guys.
  • 7 0
 Have a strong and careful recovery Alicia!
  • 6 0
 So stoked to hear about Alicia's progress and to see her back! What an absolute rockstar.
  • 3 0
 I'm so happy to listen Alicia is good!! just met her last august in Whistler and she's such a nice person and her accident kinda hit me personally as i had a couple bad concussions in the past and i know some of the struggle.
  • 3 0
 So good to hear your voice Alicia! Huge respect for the positive attitude you maintain during your recovery. I have dealt with a way lighter brain injury and it was frustrating at times! You are a wonderful human being, I hope to meet you in person sometime.
  • 3 0
 @alicialeggett, best wishes in a speedy recovery to get you back on the trails. Amazing role model for everyone in your ability to still get back on the bike after what sounds like a fall and winter of hell. Stromgest mental toughness out there.
  • 6 0
 Alicia, I know I speak for all Pinkers in saying you are in our thoughts everyday. You and your story are truly inspiring.
  • 6 0
 Great to hear you voice back on the podcast Alicia!!!
  • 2 0
 Great to hear Alicia is on the mend. Can't imagine how difficult it is to get back to close to normal after what was obviously a major trauma. Stay strong and keep the positive outlook. Here's to you getting back to the place you want to be.
  • 6 0
 So good to hear of the progress that you are making Alicia!!!
  • 6 0
 Thank you for the Alicia update. We're all pulling for you sis!
  • 5 0
 Great to hear these two together again. I hope the healing journey keeps going smoothly.
  • 7 0
 Go Alicia!
  • 5 0
 So good to hear that voice again! Relieved to hear how far Alicia's come! 3
  • 3 0
 Thanks Alicia! It's so good to know how are you! Hope you have a good vision recovery, have a good time, enjoy a lot, it would be great for me the day you come back to pb. Cheers!
  • 7 0
 Yes!! Go Alicia!!
  • 6 0
 Great to hear things are improving!
  • 5 0
 Alicia- you sound exactly like you did before and that is a really good sign! We are all so happy that you are recovering.
  • 5 0
 It is so good to hear from an Alicia clearly on the mend. And kudos to Levy for a sensitive but informative interview
  • 5 0
 Yay! Welcome back, Alicia
  • 6 0
 Fuck yeah!
  • 5 4
 My concern is that even a mild head bump in the future could be really risky, for someone that's had a severe TBI such as Alicia's. I love 2 wheels, and always have even when they don't love me back, so I get the desire. It's just I whack my head pretty decent about every 18 months or so in a biking accident. The worst offenders have actually been low hanging trees. Not certain anyone can participate in this particular sport without having a good thunk from time to time. Strictly XC riding would definitely reduce the risk and frequency of these. Just thinking out loud. Glad to see your doing so much better Alicia.
  • 4 0
 It's a tricky one for sure. This is my layman's understanding. In theory 6-8 weeks after concussion your brain should be healed (the physical brain returned to pre injury state). Although it's not uncommon to take considerably longer to recover from the concussion. It took me nearly 3 years.

The psychological effect of even the smallest knock during that recovery is huge, I remember being standing up under a tree and hitting my head on a branch at about 6 months, it's just devastating.

Riding my bike was an important part of my recovery. The wind on my face, positive tingles up my arms and brain feeling alive. Of course I was super careful and worked my way back to riding at full intensity with doctors guidance.

Long term it is a worry if multiple knocks will result in severe depression, cte or dementia. But, hey, just have to keep living a happy life now, and deal with the future as it comes
  • 1 0
 Go to hear you on the podcast! Stoked the recovery is moving forward.. I can't help to think that the pump track could be a good judgment of how the processing speed is improving.. things come at you pretty quickly on those.. But, that would definitely depend on your comfort level.. Upside, you have a great opening line you can use... I'm recovering from a head injury, but I think we've met before... Hoping everything keeps going in the right direction for you!
  • 1 0
 Hey @alicialeggett . Thanks for the reflection. Impressive recovery. I had a bad concussion when I was 13. 22 odd years ago. I struggled through uni and a bunch of other stuff and although not thoroughly diagnosed then, I'm sure it was what slowed me down.

Honestly though, in a strange way, I think it really changed me for the better. It set me on a life course that I'm very happy with. Different path than what was expected of me at that young age. You'll have just as happy as a life with your new situation! After all, nice to live life a little chiller than what society expects Smile
  • 3 0
 Not always an easy listen but great to hear Alicia is on the mend. Hope the recovery journey continues to go in the right direction, Alicia, it'll be nice having you back
  • 4 0
 so great to hear your voice Alicia! gratitude for all the little things one at a time. More podcasts with ALicia!
  • 2 1
 3 surgeries 7 screws and a plate and i still can't use my pinky. All the money, occupational therapy and recovery time and I would have been better off not listening to the doctors. Glad your back!
  • 2 0
 In a perfect world, Alicia wouldn't have a story like this to tell, but I'm so glad to hear she's still with us and able to do so.
  • 1 0
 @alicialeggett @mikelevy - awesome podcast. Can you do updates every few months? I'm really interested to hear how you (Alicia) get back into life. PS Gravel is so fun - definitely worth a try.
  • 2 0
 So good to hear from you Alicia, be patient with yourself and you will find your way.
  • 3 2
 Amen. its interesting there is a new maturity, confidence and focus in her voice…even the tone and clarity sounds more…crisp, less whimsical?
  • 3 0
 Way to keep fighting, Alicia! You got this.
  • 1 0
 Great episode! Awesome to hear you are recovering and it feels like you are embracing the recovery. Levy is such a great host/interviewer.
  • 1 0
 I’m glad you are feeling better! Our brains are adaptive and amazing. What is possible isn’t even understood. Don’t give it up.
  • 3 2
 @Pinkbike Audio volume is very low on Apple Podcast. It has been this way for the last few podcasts.
  • 4 3
 The MTB industry sells us all jumping way too much. I know that won't change, but it has real consequences
  • 2 0
 Hey I’ve got to know…what 12yr old is down voting? And why?
  • 2 3
 Its awesome that Alicia is doing better. I do have a question. What brand/model was the helmet? Where you using a neck brace as well?
  • 2 0
 Good to hear from you
  • 1 0
 So amazing to hear about Alicia's progression!
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