Injury – Andrea Bruno’s Experience
Andrea Bruno is well known as one of the original Italian Enduro riders and the first Italian champion of Enduro. His speed and style are well known in Enduro circles in Italy and in many ways unmatched. Even to this day on the Enduro World Series trails of Punta Ala, stage 2 also known as Rocco, he still currently has the 2nd fast time ever, with only Fabien Barel ahead by a few seconds. With all this success behind him, he had the unfortunate experience of dislocating his shoulder in 2013. Our cover image shows the moment he had to stop at the Enduro World Series in Punta Ala due to his injury, one of the hardest moments for any rider to do.
We wanted to speak to Andrea about his injury experience and what it meant for his riding this year and how to maintain a mental toughness and what to do if it all goes wrong and you are a pro.
You have won some of the top Italian titles in Enduro, what was that like to win?
Well, when you win you always feel good, strong and positive. Those seasons were great. Enduro was a new discipline for us and thanks to our beautiful races many top riders started to come over and race with us. It was exciting and a big source of motivation for me to improve.
Other than winning races at national level, I have always been aiming to enhance my level and catch up with top riders who came and raced with us (Vouilloz, Clementz, Lopes, Amour, Lau, Atherton)
It was great to be the first Italian Enduro Champion in our history but, even more, to be the one that gave a strong sign of how much the Italian enduro scene was growing, by putting in place some good battles and wining against these legends.
In the last year you have struggled with an injury, how does it feel to not be able to go as fast as you would like?
Yes, definitely, the 2013 season has been pretty tough for me. I spent so much energy to train last winter, coping with my working life and my family, that facing an injury just before the start of the season destroyed my motivation, my focus and my mood.
I tried and reset, but the problem came out again as my should popped out while riding while training in Sestri. That was the point of no return, as I lost confidence in my shoulder and I kept riding all season with the fear of it popping out at any time.
All this affected my training, my mood and my self confidence.
I could still do well at the opening round of the Superenduro Pro Series, where I was just a few seconds back Jerome (Clementz..) in the most technical stage proving that my riding was and is good. My shape was not good though, and in the last long stage I lost a lot.
I tried and heal myself as much as possible before Punta Ala. I was feeling pretty good and found some motivation back for the first round of the EWS. I won that race 3 years in a row, beating Dan Atherton in 2012. I was really eager to compete there but the Friday before the race I made a mistake whilst training and one bad move was enough to pop my shoulder out again. I tried and raced the first two stages but I was a really bad copy of myself and I was suffering tremendous pain, so I decided to withdraw.
It’s been frustrating. And this frustration has been with me the entire season as I was riding in fear, always focused on my problem instead of being motivated to push hard and be fast.
It’s been bad but also a good lesson from many other points of view.
What has to happen to fix your shoulder?
I am under the wings of the no.1 shoulder specialist we have in Italy, Dott. Alex Castagna. He took care of Valentino Rossi a few years ago. My shoulder in unstable and there are many things that need to be fixed. He knows what and how to do it, so I am sure I will have a good recovery. I should have surgery very soon, we have just met the other week. I think I will take my time to heal up as best as possible and focus on a few selected races and events in the second half of 2014.
What advice would you give to anyone struggling with injury?
Well, I think I should not be saying this as I behaved otherwise but in case of injury, give priority to check the situation and then decide what to do. If I did this, I would probably have been under surgery soon after I had the problem. By not stopping I surely worsened the situation a bit and I could have worsened it even more.
Your mental approach can be better if you know you are taking care of the problem. It is not going to work well if you pretend to be stronger and tougher, because this is not enough and the problem does not disappear only because you are tough.
I decided to wait for the end of the season for many reasons, but I am not sure that going through a season like this was worth waiting until now to take a decision and cure the problem. After all I went through, the fear, the uncertainty and the loss of self confidence, I found myself wondering whether I want to keep racing or not.
I am sure that if I had stopped and taken care of the problem at the beginning, today I would be focused and motivated to come back strong for next season.
How hard is the sport on the body, is it risky at the top level?
The risk is part of any discipline, especially those sports in which speed is involved. We definitely do a sport which is dangerous by definition. We all have a self conservation instinct that keeps this risk under control.
The risk is a function of rider’s skills, rider’s self evaluation, ability, rider’s shape and of course everything which enters into the field of the unpredictable.
No risk no party, but we can have an acceptable level of risk, even while doing something dangerous, as long as we are humble enough, clever enough, prepared to do it and be a bit lucky.
Thanks to you