By Kevin Novello
I am not unhappy to put 2014 in the rear view mirror. Personally and professionally it was a banner year – and that’s what really counts. But in terms of enjoying off-road riding and racing, it definitely didn’t go as planned. The year started as the most promising year ever, with trips planned to take on Romaniacs and Sea to Sky. Early on we had a great time in Florida followed by a fine start to the testing and racing season. Everything was rolling along nicely right up until I popped my ACL (at Romaniacs) for the second time in three years – same knee, of course.
In my experience, getting over an injury that you are familiar with isn’t that big of a deal. And in terms of rehabbing my ACL, it’s been easy. The fly in the ointment has been a bad meniscus tear that required a micro–fracture procedure. A micro-fracture procedure is series of small holes that are drilled into the base of the fibula and top of the tibula to release bone marrow that will eventually form a substance similar to cartilage. Unfortunately it takes a long time to recover from and comes with serious restrictions for anything that places pressure on the knee. Whereas before I could spend time riding my mountain bike, this time it wasn’t option. It has been a tough stretch but the truth is, I never had much faith in the cadaver ACL graft from 2011. I often wondered if that ACL was harvested from a 90 year old woman. It just never felt right and I always kinda knew that it wouldn’t hold up. This time around however, for some inexplicable reason, I don’t have that feeling and am moving forward with more confidence than any recent year. So not having that constant concern is relief.
Recognizing that I wasn’t able to ride with my regular group of friends, my 9 year old daughter offered to go riding with me several weeks after my procedure. Confident that she wouldn’t drag me through anything that would require me to dab my foot, I jumped at the chance. Plus, she’s never shown much interest, so this was a great opportunity for more family fun. Since then we’ve gone out riding several times and it’s been incredibly fun and satisfying. Riding with her has been the true silver lining in all this. I have since watched her progress from a PW 50 to gaining confidence on a friend’s PW 80. Now, she’s conquering hills she once shied away from and asking me when we can go riding again. She even wants a new-to-her bike. All of you parents who have put your riding and racing ambitions on hold for your kids – I get it.
We are now planning for a much smoother and more rewarding 2015. We’ve got some interesting trips planned with our friends at TCP X Power that include Bodrum, Turkey and another more expansive Enduro tour in Romania. Last year we barely scratched the surface with our Romanian tour. I also need another shot at Romaniacs. DNF-ing that has been intolerable. It’s unhealthy the way I obsess over it. And if things go well, we’ll take on Sea to Sky. We’ll also have a few really cool editorial surprises in addition to our regular editorial content. I am also considering hiring a graphic designer as I straight up suck at it.
Even though 2014 didn’t go as planned, there was no shortage of memorable and rewarding moments. So here’s hoping that 2015 is better to you than 2014 was. If not, I’m sure there’s a silver lining for you to find.
Happy New Year!