Bring Out the Gimp
Get this: Tucker Hibbert raced the second half of the 2011 season with a wrecked left wrist! I just talked with the Monster Team Arctic racer, just a couple days after his surgery.
AI: Alright, I’m afraid to ask…what’s going on with your wrist?
Hibbert: Well, I’m in California right now recovering from surgery on my left wrist, which I injured in the middle of the snocross season.
AI: What?! When did you injure it, and how?
Hibbert: It happened while I was testing at ERX, a few days prior to the Hayward ISOC National. It was a strange situation because nothing major happened, no crash…basically nothing unusual happened. I was just going around a left-hand corner, where the handlebars were turned to the full-out position, with my arm tucked under the way I always corner in those situations. I caught a bump with ski, which yanked the handlebars and dislocated my wrist. I felt it immediately – it hurt – but whatever dislocated went right back in.
I finished that practice moto, but the pain got worse throughout the day. I knew something was wrong, but I wasn’t sure what the exact problem was, and I assumed it was something that would get better in a couple days.
We had to go to Hayward later the next day, so I made a quick trip to Shock Doctor’s office in Plymouth to get a wrist brace they produce for Troy Lee Designs. I put the brace on and was able to ride almost normally during the last test session. My wrist was still painful, but I could ride fine, control the sled and do what I needed.
AI: How were you able to get through the remainder of the race season, and how did it affect your racing and training?
Hibbert: I don’t think it affected my racing at all. I used the brace every time I raced or practiced for the remainder of the season.
My training suffered a little because of the injury, though. I had to hold back, not practice as much or as intensely to prevent further injury and to let it heal. Sometimes I’d notice some pain when I did practice, but never during races.
I kept thinking and hoping it was an injury that would eventually heal. So after the World Championships, I basically stopped riding and training to let it heal for a month. When that didn’t bring any improvement, I finally went to a doctor at the end of April.
The actual diagnosis was two torn ligaments in my wrist, a sprained third ligament, and several bones and joints that were out of alignment because of the ligaments.
So, a week after the diagnosis, I flew to California for surgery, which happened on Monday.
An X-Ray of Tucker’s wrist during the surgery. The big pin was used to stabilize stuff during the procedure, then pulled out. The two small pins stay in for six weeks.
AI: I’m eating lunch right now…describe the surgery in the most graphic detail possible.
Hibbert: I think it was pretty gnarly, but I was asleep the whole time so I can’t tell you many gory details. I know it took just over three hours, and that I have two pins holding the bones in place so that the ligaments will heal. The ligaments had to be sewn together as well.
AI: What does the doc expect for recovery?
Hibbert: That’s the good news: According to the doctor, I’ll have a 100% recovery. I’ll go six weeks with the pins in followed by a month of rehab to get the strength and range of motion back to 100%. I can’t put any pressure on my arm and wrist until rehab begins. I’m not worried at all about being ready for the snow season next year. I ‘m just bummed about not being able to race moto this summer.
AI: What does this mean for your summer, in terms of your public proclamation of beating me in mountain bike races and, maybe more importantly, training for next season?
Hibbert: I won’t be able to race motocross like I’d hoped, which is a bummer. This will be two summers in a row without being able to race because of injury.
I’ll be back on the motorcycle during the latter half of August. I won’t be race ready, and the AMA National season will be mostly over at that point, so my motocross riding will be only as training for snocross.
In the meantime, I’ll be able to do 80% of my normal training through the injury, with bicycle riding on the stationary trainer. So I’ll be strong enough to beat you when I start racing my mountain bike at the end of the summer.
AI: Wanna bet? Does the injury affect your consumption of Monster, Hot Stuff pizza or Mandi’s homemade granola?
Hibbert: Well, actually the injury allows me to actually consume more of those things.
In all seriousness, with any serious injury that derails your plans and profession, it’s easy to get depressed which can be a bad thing. I’ve already gone through the eating stage of that, and am ready to focus.
AI: From what it sounds like, this isn’t the worst injury to have.
Hibbert: Injuries are a big part of racing. Some athletes have many injuries, others very few. If you look at athletes who are at the top of their sports, most have dealt with injury at some point. The only way to be on top is to constantly push yourself to the edge, which is where injuries happen. I do everything possible to minimize it, but injuries still happen.
I’ve always looked at injuries as positive thing. They force me to evaluate my program, see if what I’m doing is right. Overcoming injuries has actually made me mentally stronger over the years.
One reason is that the challenge motivates me, just like in a race where something goes wrong and I’m forced to ride through the pack. I love rebounding from tough circumstances, which has made me a better racer.
Injuries also force a break for the body to really recover, but that wouldn’t happen in the normal course of a year. A 2-3 month break has always stimulated my desire and motivation to train harder.
AI: Okay, so you’re going to be chilling for a month or so. Where are some places and/or events you’ll attend this summer, where I and others can sign your cast?
Hibbert: It’s only been a week or so since I learned of what’s happening with my wrist, and a few days since the surgery, so I haven’t yet set my full schedule in light of the changed plans.
For sure I’ll be at the Arctic Cat 50th Anniversary Celebration, with my race sleds on display and the whole team there.
I’ll also be at Haydays, which is always the kickoff to our season. I think we’ll have our merchandise booth there, along with some cool interactive displays. That’s the goal.
Until then, I’ll be at home in Pelican Rapids a lot, which usually never happens. We’re never there in the winter, so to have that time is enjoyable.
AI: What are your racing plans for the next year, for both snowmobile and motocross?
Hibbert: Right now I don’t have solid plans, in part because we’re waiting to hear about the Snocross series schedule. We’re working with sponsors and trying to lay out our plans.
I’m leaning towards a similar program to last year, in which I contest the entire ISOC National Series, the X Games and FIM World Championship, but I don’t know that for sure.
I was excited about last season, doing the whole series.
AI: Cool. Thanks for taking the time to chat, good luck healing and get ready to eat my mountain bike dust later this summer.