The working wounded

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

Racers get hurt – it’s part of the job. The inevitability of injury and, more importantly, of riding injured is something that every bike racer has to accept; even Valentino Rossi.

Until his bone-crunching tumble during June’s Italian GP, Rossi had lived a charmed existence by motorcycle racing standards. He’d never missed a race since his World Championship debut in April 1996; that’s 230 consecutive events. Needless to say, no one else comes close to that record. It would be a remarkable achievement for any racer, but for one who’s spent so many years dancing on the edge of the precipice, it’s like he was blessed.

Which is why in the immediate aftermath of his accident (above), many people thought Rossi might quit bikes. After all, he’s 31 years old and teetering towards the twilight of his career. The fact that the shattered right tibia he sustained at Mugello is his first serious injury only added credence to the retirement theory: Rossi would be shocked by an agony he had never experienced and (having taken a good look at his bank balance and trophy room) would decide that the game was no longer worth the candle.

This assumption ignores the fact that Rossi is an intelligent man who knew full well that one day he was likely to get hurt. He must have been as surprised as the rest of us at his knack of avoiding injury. He certainly surprised everyone with his speedy return, bravely battling for a podium finish at the German GP just six weeks after Mugello.

Of course, Rossi has raced hurt before. He broke bones in his throttle hand at Assen in 2006, popped some pills, gritted his teeth and scored some points. Until that moment there were some people in MotoGP who still wondered if he was a real man. “Of course he’s fast,” they said. “He’s never been hurt.”

Rossi can handle pain, with a little help. After surgeons pinned the tibia he announced from his hospital bed that he was feeling good “because I’ve discovered a great rapport with morphine”.

Mick Doohan, the teak-tough Aussie who ruled MotoGP pre-Rossi, was different. He suffered horrible injuries but astounded surgeons by refusing heavy painkilling medication, saying: “I prefer to deal with the pain and not have a headache from the drugs.”

Doohan’s great rivals of the early ’90s also retired hurt; Wayne Rainey paralysed from the chest down at Misano in 1993, Kevin Schwantz torn apart by countless minor and not-so-minor injuries.

“I broke a lot of bones,” Schwantz recalls. “I’ve tried to count them but it’s not easy; overall it’s got to be 40 or 50.

During 1994 – Schwantz’s last full season – he broke his left hand for the third time. He should have undergone surgery and rested. Instead, he carried on racing, in grim agony. “I got [MotoGP medic] Dr Costa to do a quick fix and kept riding. The bones would dislocate every race and I’d get them reset Sunday night. I won at Donington, even though the bones dislocated halfway through the race. That evening I was in Costa’s with two guys hanging onto my upper arm, one guy hanging onto my hand and Costa poking around, popping the bones back into place.”

Motorcycle racing is now much less dangerous, thanks to better primary safety (safer race tracks and motorcycles) and better secondary safety (much-improved riding gear and medical back-up). But it is still dangerous, and while some developments make it safer – like traction control – others can make it more hazardous.

Rossi’s crash bears similarities with a rash of recent MotoGP accidents – it happened during morning practice when track temperatures were low. Other 2010 morning victims include Dani Pedrosa, Ben Spies, Mika Kallio, Alvaro Bautista, Hector Barbera, Marco Simoncelli, Marco Melandri, Nicky Hayden, Randy de Puniet and Hiroshi Aoyama; or half the grid. The solution is simple: rewrite the tyre rules to give riders more than two compound choices, so they can run softer tyres that actually work in cool conditions.

You may also like

Related products