About one second after Dereck Bowen landed in a snowdrift after an ill-advised head-first dive into it, he knew he’d made a mistake. A bad one.
Experienced bike racer Dereck, 43, said: ”There was a crunching sound from my neck. I stood up and my hand and forearm was frozen – and not from the snow.”
“I realized pretty quickly it was bad,” Dereck told me during his interview for the Zwiftcast.
And bad it was. Dereck had been out playing in the fresh snow with his kids and dogs near his home in Brantford, Ontario, Canada – and had set up to record the fateful dive on his Go Pro. “I downloaded the footage and I couldn’t believe what I’d actually done!”
The traditional cyclist’s remedy of a few beers didn’t help matters and after visits to the hospital, the docs confirmed a fracture to the C7 vertebrae in his neck.
Worse – a chunk of bone had lodged against a nerve and that was causing Dereck some pretty high levels of pain. And all of this, on Christmas Day of all days.
With some hefty pain-killing meds and “three boring weeks on the couch playing video games” behind him Dereck raised with his docs the idea of some gentle exercise and they agreed it would help his recovery.
“I was so excited,” recalls Dereck, “All I could think was – ‘great, I can get back on Zwift’.”
Dereck’s been a Zwifter since the early days. He’s a member of Team TFC and just as experienced a racer in Zwift as he is outside.
He jumped on board his turbo bike – which, thanks to a happy co-incidence, is “a bit of a Franken-bike” he’d had built specially for training indoors and is fully adjustable.
“I found a position which was kind of comfortable – it’s more lounging than sitting.” Pausing only to adjust his screen name to include the words “broken neck”, Dereck was off to Watopia.
And there he found company – and Zwift being Zwift, several people who’d suffered similar injuries and were on hand to give him advice and inspiration.
“It has saved my sanity”, Dereck told me “and provided some fantastic inspiration. There were people I chatted to in game who’d suffered similar but worse injuries and made full recoveries. That’s helped me so much.”
Watch Dereck’s dive and interview and check out his Frankenbike on the Zwiftcast video below, which part of the full Zwiftcast episode 42.