What are you if you are not riding your bike? I think often elite athletes are deﬁned by their sport and when that is taken from them it’s like losing their identity. I have tried to come back from injury far too quickly on most occasions. Even after a fall in a race the ﬁrst instinct is to get up and get riding – if I am riding then I must be ﬁne and there is nothing wrong (that, and the bunch generally doesn’t wait, so laying around only adds to the injury).
During my time as a cyclist, I think the hardest part of the sport has been being injured. Going into the unknown, how long am I going to be out for? Will I be able to come back from this?
I have had my fair share of injuries over the years: there is a list, quite a long list. In some ways the straight forward broken bone is an easy one to deal with. It’s easy to diagnose, treat, and the recovery time is going to be quite standard. The harder injuries to deal with are the ones that are subjective. The mind games that you play with yourself, the constant testing, feeling and questioning.
My comeback from a broken radius 6 weeks before Roubaix was a little unorthodox in many ways. If I was to advise myself on the situation at that time, it would have been to have a rest after the break and ﬁnd a new goal, but deep down something was compelling me to get on the home trainer only three days after crashing and to try to keep moving. For a number of weeks I would get off the trainer leaving a pool of sweat and ask myself what the hell was I doing? What was this good for? What was the goal here? I was watching all the races that I had trained so hard for. One by one they were being raced and all I could do was follow them as I did lap after lap of Watopia.
Maybe it was the structure that I needed, or the endorphins, I don’t know how I kept it up but I am glad I did.
My ﬁrst race back after my injury was a week before Roubaix. It was a test for me, but also as much for the team. I had done a few rides on the road and felt like I wanted to give Roubaix a go. In my mind I was going to line up and see how it would go. It was not until later that I found out that the team gave me little chance of starting and were not even planning on giving me a ride. The races in Spain went well and the rest is history.
Sometimes going into that unknown whilst being driven by a passion, you just don’t know where you’re going to come out.
Always keep riding.
Mathew Hayman is the epitome of hard work and persistence with both of these attributes leading to extensive success.
After 16 years of competing as a professional cyclist, Mathew fulfilled his ultimate dream by winning the 2016 Paris – Roubaix.
Mathew captured the hearts of all cycling enthusiasts with his courageous performance within the closing stage of this iconic one-day classic.
Mathew has been a senior member for many of the Marquee Grand Tour Teams including Rabobank, Team Sky and GreenEdge. Notably, he was also the winner of the 2006 Commonwealth Games Road Race.