It was an unlucky week for downhill and trials mountain biker Dylan Victor as he fractured three of his neck vertebrae after crashing and landing on his head.
The 40-year-old, who lives in Noordhoek in Cape Town, said the crash occurred after an afternoon ride with his friend. Victor said they were on their way back to the car when he got distracted and popped over the handlebars of his bike and landed on his head.
“After I hit my head I got up right away and continued to ride back to the car. When we got to the car, I said I think I need to go to the hospital because something felt wrong.”
At the hospital they found that his C5 and C6 vertebrae had suffered a compression fracture and his C7 vertebra, which took the brunt of the fall, a bilateral fracture.
“I was extremely lucky to still be able to use my arms and legs and not become a quadriplegic or even die from this.
“I am lucky that I didn’t paralyse myself from the trip back to the car. I should have just stayed still and waited for an ambulance to come and fetch me.”
While he was frustrated that he would be stuck on his back for the foreseeable future, Victor said it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
“If there was ever a year to get injured you could say that this one is perfect. There is not much going on thanks to the coronavirus and a lot of the shows and events I was going to do were cancelled anyway.”
For the next six weeks Victor has been restricted to staying on his back and wearing a rigid neck brace. He will require surgery in the future.
“At the moment, we are still not completely sure how and when we are going to do the surgery. I will be getting scans every week, which will affect my recovery time.
“The doctors reckon that I will have a full recovery. My arms are a bit weak and I don’t have the strength I did before the crash but we will see how things go.”
Despite the mental and physical effects of the crash, Victor had high hopes of being able to ride his bike by December if his recovery and rehabilitation went well.
“I am hoping that maybe I can even get a couple of shows in this year. Hopefully, people will be willing to come out and see some cool stunts.
“It’s frustrating being stuck on your back and staring at the roof for so long, but that’s what it takes to get better so that’s what I have to do.
“I absolutely love riding my bike and I have no intention of stopping.”
Victor first showed an interest in downhill racing many years ago when he was on holiday in Knysna with his parents. He saw the legendary Robbie Powell performing some stunts and was immediately entranced.
“I thought to myself ‘I can do that’, so I started practising and was eventually able to do it.
“To this day, Robbie and I are great friends and I often tell him how he got me into stunt and trials riding.”
Victor has represented South Africa in a variety of events, including dual slalom, dual eliminator and trials.
“When mountain biking started, we used to do everything,” he explained.
“We would go to the nationals and I would race the cross-country, dual slalom, dual eliminator and trials. Handling four disciplines in one weekend was the norm.”
He regularly performs at extreme sports shows and expos around the country, showing off his skills on the bike and entertaining the crowds with an assortment of tricks.
When Victor is not on his bike or performing stunts, he is kept busy by his bicycle rental and tourism business where he shares his love for cycling and South Africa with others.
“It’s just another passion of mine. I love being out on the bike and allowing other people to experience this great country we have.”