The 18-year-old was out on a training ride with a group of cyclists in Camperdown, KwaZulu-Natal, on April 19. She was out in front with three other riders, cycling at quite a fast pace when tragedy struck.
Keep said she rode into the back wheel of a rider just in front of her as they slowed down suddenly. She fell off her bike and slid along the tar on her left side.
Her glove was ripped off her hand when it got caught in a wheel.
“I landed up on the side of the road,” she said. “I crawled onto the grass and I sat there in a lot of shock. I was hyperventilating because it was such a traumatic experience.
“When I looked down at my knee and saw what can only be described as a massive hole, it wasn’t a pretty sight.”
She discovered that she had also sustained bad road-rash along her arm up to the elbow as well as on her leg from the ankle, where her sock was cut open, up towards her knee.
“I had a roastie pretty much as long as my hand on my shin, which was incredibly painful.”
Thankfully the Herald Cycle Tour champion was able to get to a hospital quickly, where her knee was stitched up and her other wounds dressed.
“I couldn’t bend my knee properly for about a week and a half. I was mainly putting weight on my right leg and using that to get around.”
It took about two weeks before she could get back on the bike, as she had to wait to have her stitches removed and have radio shock therapy on her leg.
“During the recovery period I started viewing things differently, as if it was a blessing in disguise. I raced so much prior to the accident and actually thought I needed a break.
“However, towards the end of the two weeks I began to get frustrated because I couldn’t do any exercise and I was hoping I wouldn’t lose my form and fitness.”
Keep, who leads the overall women’s elite standings in the Road Cycling Series alongside Liezel Jordaan, was also aware of the fact that the situation was out of her hands and that she just needed to recover as best she could and ease back into her season.
“Thankfully this happened at a time when I didn’t have vital races on the calendar. I also don’t think it put a damper on cycling for me at all.
“Due to the crash happening so quickly and unexpectedly I don’t have any negative connotations attached to the sport. It could’ve happened to anyone.
“It actually motivated me to get back into the game quickly. The fire is still very much burning inside me.”
This fire and drive was evident in her performance at the recent KZN MTB XCO series race, which she won. She also placed third in last weekend’s Karkloof Classic and seventh in the 100 Cycle Challenge, which took place shortly after she got back on the bike.
“The 100 Cycle took place only about five days after the stitches were taken out of my knee, so I was more than happy to be in the top 10.
“This season has been a learning curve for me, but I’ll continue working hard on regaining the strength in my leg.
“I’m excited to see what’s waiting around the next corner.”