Road to Redemption
Australia's Cameron Sinclair discusses his recovery.
When Travis Pastrana executed the first double backflip I really wondered who would be brave enough to follow in his footsteps. Scott Murray gave it a shot, but failed more than he succeeded. On a very good day he nailed it, but was very hit and miss with perfecting the double rotation.
Then came along Australian Cam "Sincs" Sinclair, who proved the double flip can be consistently executed after he successfully rode away from 20-plus during the 2009 Crusty Tour and several competitions world wide. Then Cam raised the bar and included the double flip in his 90-second run at the Red Bull X-Fighters rounds he attended. All seemed to be going well until the pressure of linking a smooth run together at the Madrid, Spain stop saw him under rotate the double, ending in a near fatal accident that he was lucky to survive.
Two months later, Cam made his first public appearance at Robbie Maddison's Red Bull XRAY freeride event with his brother Mick and manager Adam Bailey, so I sat down with the Sincs brothers to talk about what happened in Madrid, the recovery process, and if we'll be seeing him back on a bike any time soon.
Cam: To be honest, there's not much memory at all. I've seen video clips and photos and nothing triggers. The only thing I really remember is the last week of being in hospital in Madrid and that was three weeks after my accident and after I came out of my coma.
Cam, you've had some pretty amazing support from your friends, and especially your brother Mick. Mick how was it for you watching it all go down?
Mick: I wasn't there when it happened. I was watching it live on the webcast with our folks, and when he crashed it was pretty gnarly as we didn't know what happened 'cause obviously they took the cameras off him straight away. We jumped straight on the phone and I called Cam's mobile, trying to get hold of his mechanic and no one answered and for half an hour we didn't know what was going on. About half an hour later I got a call from Maddo saying that he was alive, which is what we needed to hear.
The only thing I really remember is the last week of being in hospital in Madrid and that was three weeks after my accident and after I came out of my coma.
-- Cameron Sinclair
Mick: Well it's a bit of a blur now, but it was just so hard to take in. You don't know what to do, you feel so helpless on the other side of the world, especially when you can't get in touch with anyone. I didn't know if he was dead or alive. Every five minutes or so Dad, Mum, or myself were talking on the phone trying to get a clearer picture as we didn't know what was happening, and that's the worst feeling.
Does it just completely change your reality, like what's important in life?
Mick: Yeah for sure. Motorbikes are our life. We've been on them since we were four years old and we've never not been around them you know. But at that time you just think "I don't give a s--t if I don't look at a motorbike again!" Now that I know he's OK, I can't wait for him to get back on, but at that time I didn't give a s--t about anything but him.
Cam, you were saying earlier that the fear is coming to you now you're learning more about what happened. Can you look back at the footage, and at what people have told you and tell what went wrong?
Cam: I wasn't going to watch any of the footage until I got home, but the day before I left Spain I looked at it and just seen what happened. I guess I'd done two the night before in Spain and they were fine, but I think just the fact of trying to put the double into a ninety second run is just too hard it's too difficult. In demonstrations you've got as much time in the world to do it, and if you're not feeling it, you just keep taking run-ins until you feel right.
So Cam, you've been the most successful at consistently executing a double flip by a long shot and I guess you were pushing it to the limit and trying to do it in a run and it just comes down to the fact that you do need more time to pull it off?
Cam: Yes. The way I'm looking at it now, I'm not sure if I want to do it again in a ninety-second run. I just think it's too hard. To do a double flip, you want as much time as you need to get it right.
It's the best trick isn't it?
Cam: Yeah it's the best trick basically, so I might just save it for demonstrations and best trick competitions now.
And before the accident you were seriously pumped for X Games right?
Cam: Oh yeah, I was really looking forward to X Games. I've had some tricks up my sleeve that I've kept quiet that only a few people knew about, like a few combo double flips. I was feeling comfortable with them and I was going to bring them out and I'm sure if I had of pulled it off at X Games I would've won a gold medal. And it could've happened again in Freestyle, but there's always next year, and I'll try to do the same thing.
I injured so many different parts I hurt my ankles, my shoulder, my head, and suffered internal injuries so I'm seeing so many different doctors it annoys me sometimes, but I've just gotta do it for the best result.
-- Cameron Sinclair
Cam: I had to fly back from Spain in first class with the doctor. And the day I got back, I was rushed into hospital and spent three nights there. They wanted me to be in there for two weeks, but I sort of couldn't handle it, I just wanted to get home. But apart from that, I've just been at home, going to rehab three times a week, been going to physio and just seeing doctors and things like that. You know, there's so many different things I injured, so many different parts I hurt my ankles, my shoulder, my head, and suffered internal injuries so I'm seeing so many different doctors it annoys me sometimes, but I've just gotta do it for the best result.
What was the worst damage you suffered from the accident?
Cam: At the time I'm not really sure. I don't really know much about my injuries. Mick knows more about it than me.
Mick: The main injury, the life threatening injury, was his liver because it was squashed so it was ruptured and he had some severe internal bleeding. So that was the main concern. They were also concerned about his brain, but their main priority was to get the liver clotted to keep from bleeding. They went through the main artery in his leg, because they couldn't open him up from the front. That procedure went for about four hours, so once they clotted the liver and stopped the internal bleeding, he was stable, so the next thing to do was to have a look at his brain and see what was wrong with it. When they checked out his head they found some bleeding, but it wasn't major, but there was bleeding deep inside his brain, and that's the part that controls the right side of the body. Hence why he's got the limp, and why he can't use his right side very well. It's getting a lot better but that's what they were worried about. There's also bruising which has affected the right side of his body, his memory and speech. He crushed his windpipe as well, which has affected his speech a little, plus cracked his shoulder blade, a fracture in the hip, fractured his cheek bone, his scapula and also chipped his shoulder cup.
Cam: All I could do was lay in bed and do nothing. I couldn't walk for the first three weeks. My body was real numb still.
Cam: My fiancÚ Brooke. She's been through so much in Spain she was really scared. She's been so helpful and awesome through this whole thing and she's driving me to rehab three times a week, talks to all the doctors and sorts out my insurance and stuff like that.
How has the accident changed your life Cam? How do you view your future now that you're on the way to recovery, like are you going to recover 100%?
Cam: It's still too early to tell. I plan on getting better 100%, but at the moment I'm going day by day. In five months I've got to do another assessment, and in 6 months time if I'm good to ride then I'll ride. I'll just get my life back on track first. But in saying that, my main goal is to have a gold medal around my neck this time next year. That's the plan.
So it all comes down to when you feel 100% and then you can make the decision when you're feeling it?
Mick: What the doctors are saying is that the recovery period is going to be 6-12 months, but knowing Cam and how hard he's working, it's going to be more like 6 than 12, but it's just going to take time. I took him to physio last Monday, and they told him to do 3 sets of 10 and Cam would do 4 sets of 11, so knowing how hard he's working and how determined he is, and just knowing his persona he should be right in 8 months. I've got no doubt he'll be back 100%.
My main goal is to have a gold medal around my neck this time next year. That's the plan.
-- Cameron Sinclair
Cam: Yeah it's just good to be out of home. I haven't been able to do anything, just going home, getting back in the car going to the city, going to rehab, going to the doctors, getting back home, going to sleep, and it's just the same thing over and over again. It's just good to be out of home.
Mick: It's also good to give Brooke a bit of a break for a couple of days for her to catch up with her friends.
So you're only out for the day?
Cam: The doctors said I should go home after one day. They don't want me to stay the whole weekend.
Mick: You know a week ago there's no way he would've been able to sit on the back of a bike and get dinked around the track. So seeing him do that, he has come a long way.
Before we end this Cam, how did it feel watching your buddy Bilko win the Gold at X?
Cam: I was very happy for him even though he got an arse raping in Best Trick beaten by a trick that won last year and off a smaller gap. Next year I want to go Aussie one two, and hopefully with Maddo we can be all three on the box. Bilko's got the 360, I've got the double flip, so we've got tricks no one else has got.