March 13, 2008 – Zach Bell (Symmetrics) returned to Canada on Tuesday after a crash at the Bendigo Madison races in Australia this past weekend. The Yukon native was as gracious as ever despite facing the most significant setback of his career. Bell described his heavy crash in the “Golden Mile” Wheel Race. Wheel races are a style of racing popular in Australia in which the faster the rider the larger the handicap they are given in short (2km-4km) standing start races. As Bell’s faster group was overtaking a slower bunch, an inexperienced young Japanese rider swung up the shallow banked track taking out Australian prodigy Travis Meyer who was leading the charge over the top of the slower riders. Bell was left with no where to go and t-boned Meyer, flying over the handlebars.
Upon impact Bell knew he was seriously injured; “as soon as I hit, I knew it was game over.” He was rushed to hospital that night, and met with an arthroscopic surgeon the following morning.
Bell flew home Tuesday for further diagnosis. “Sport BC and Richard Wooles were really helpful in arranging everything and getting me into see a specialist,” said Bell.
The specialist confirmed the worst, that Bell had torn two ligaments in the AC (acromioclavicular) joint in his shoulder – click here. The injury can only be fixed with surgery, however the surgeon informed Bell that with aggressive physiotherapy he can regain “80-90%” of the function back and re-stabilize the joint. With surgery requiring a lengthy lay-off and the 2008 Track Worlds – and Bell’s Olympic aspirations – only two weeks away, he has opted to pursue aggressive physiotherapy (he had his first session this evening) in the hopes to being on the start line at the Track World Championships.
Bell is uncertain if this will be possible but is working as hard as possible towards that goal and plans to be on the trainer as soon as tomorrow. In Bell’s words “Worlds is still on the game plan but the prep has changed. I was about to start a training camp, but obviously that is on hold. All that effort is going into physio right now. But the docs and the physios say it’s still possible.”
Pedal wishes one of Canada’s brightest cycling talents a fast recovery.