Silver Lining

Everything happens for a reason, or at least that’s what my mum has always told me, but sometimes when something unfortunate or unplanned happens you wonder what that reason is, and that’s the place that I am at right now. I am home with a shattered shoulder blade and a broken shoulder joint. I’ve had 2 surgeries; lots of new metal inserted, and am going to have a permanent #7 on my back from the scar (I guess that will become my new lucky number!).

Rewind a month ago and I would have told you I was feeling pretty darn good on the bike: I had recovered from early season strep throat, had spent three weeks returning to training at altitude in Boulder, and had competed for Canada at the 2013 Pan American Road Championships in Mexico – where I finished 4th in the time trial. I was feeling strong on the bike and knew it was just the beginning of my build to peak form for the rest of the season.

Following Pan Ams I flew to St. Louis to meet up with my team to compete in the annual Tour De Grove. Friday night was the first of three criteriums. The race started off well and I took an early lead off the front winning a prime. About twenty minutes into the race I was brought back to the group, then a lap or two later, BOOM! I was into the barriers and then on the ground, and I knew it was not good. This ended any hope of finishing off the weekend, and racing at the Gatineau Grand Prix the following weekend.

In St Louis they operated immediately to deal with the deep wound on my shoulder, leaving me overnight in hospital. Thirty six hours later I was back home and sitting with a shoulder surgeon in Victoria. Instead of getting better news the news was getting worse… the surgeon said the injury was serious; my shoulder would need to be reconstructed, and rehab would take some time. As you can imagine, that forecast did not sit well with my thinking or plans. A few days later, after four hours of surgery, the pieces were reconnected, and my recovery began.

Yes, I have had my moments of being down, but then everything got put in perspective when I got a call from Rick Hansen. Rick started off by asking how I was doing and encouraged me to keep my chin up, to be thankful for small blessings, and to use this unforeseen time to work on the performance gaps that take a back seat when you are busy in your racing schedule. He then went on to tell me he had just visited a girl a year younger than me in hospital with terminal cancer, she has been given one year to live, and if that isn’t tough enough her mother is also facing terminal cancer at the same time. If that story doesn’t stop you from feeling sorry for yourself I don’t know what does. That story really put things in perspective. I have some broken bones that heal and get better – but terminal cancer, that doesn’t. I have nothing to feel sorry about – I know that I will be back competing and enjoying the thrill of cycling as soon as my recovery allows.

So here I am two weeks post surgery #2: no sling (off the bike), back on the bike, and motivated more than ever. I have nothing to be down about. I have an amazing family, wonderful friends, I couldn’t ask for a better and more supportive cycling team, and of course all the medical people that put me back together and are helping me everyday with recovery and rehab.

Hopefully by my next post I will have started to uncover the silver lining from this speed bump on my journey. Onwards and up!


Annie hails from Victoria, BC and currently races for Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. Since starting her competitive road cycling career in 2007, she has achieved tremendous results including Silver U23 at the Time Trial National Championships in 2012 as well as Junior National Road and Time Trial Champion in 2011.