"Mountain biking: Serious injuries scuttle world title dreams"
Mountain biking: Serious injuries scuttle world title dreams
By Alistair McMurran on Thu, 21 May 2009
Erin Greene has pulled out, and Sheryl MacLeod's chances of competing
at the world mountain biking championships look slim.
An ironic twist of fate caught up with the riders, who had their eyes
on a podium spot at the world mountain biking championships.
They have had severe accidents that have dented their world
MacLeod, New Zealand's 2008 national champion, was targeting
September's world championships at Canberra.
Greene qualified for the world 24-hour event in Alberta in July when
she won the New Zealand title in March.
MacLeod (31), a qualifications assessor for Work and Income in
Dunedin, broke her neck and dislocated her second and third vertebrae
when her bike slid on a wet surface halfway down the course on a
training ride on Signal Hill in early January.
Greene (26), a sales specialist at R and R Sports, cracked her pelvis
in five places and fractured her hip when hit by a car while she was
out cycling last month.
Greene has had her entry qualification for the world championships
transferred to next year.
Her movement is restricted and she still has a long way to go in her
She must either lie down or sit.
"I can only stand up for short periods with the aid of crutches,"
Greene said yesterday.
"I have an X-ray next Tuesday and it will tell me if I can stand up
and do more weight-bearing activities. I would not be confident riding
24 hours on a bike in July."
Greene has been in a lot of pain that has been relieved with morphine
and other medicines.
"It has been uncomfortable some nights, but the pain level has dropped
and that is a relief," she said. MacLeod has been steadily recovering
from her broken neck. She returned to her job mid-March and is working
"My spinal cord was badly bruised which affected the nerve signals to
all the muscles in my body, making them weak," she said.
"I am not back to full strength yet and I still have tingling
sensations in my hands."
She will receive the results next week of an X-ray from one of the
Burwood spinal team surgeons who operated on her at Christchurch
"It is early days yet and I am holding off making any decisions,"
"I'm not sure about the future, if I'll be able to race downhill again
at a high level. I have to see what it feels like to get back on my
bike, mentally and physically."
MacLeod is keeping her options open but she knows that downhill
mountain biking is risky and will not make a decision on her future in
the sport until she has made a full recovery, and considered all the
medical advice carefully.
"But as an experienced downhill mountain biker I know that the nature
of the sport is quite extreme, so I probably look at risk in a
different way to the average person," MacLeod said.
"But I realise how lucky I am and how devastating this could have been
so I am having a serious think about things.
"I like challenges but downhill mountain bike racing is not the be-
and end-all for me," MacLeod said.
"There are plenty of other challenges in life."
MacLeod has been working hard at the Rata South rehabilitation clinic
with physiotherapist Mark Shirley and is working on her aerobic
fitness and muscle strength.
"I have made huge gains since February and am confident I will keep
improving with this support."
I am working on creating wildlife habitat that is off-limits to
humans ("pure habitat"). Want to help? (I spent the previous 8
years fighting auto dependence and road construction.)
Please don't put a cell phone next to any part of your body that you are fond of!
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