By Shane Stokes
Almost eight full months after the crash that put him into a coma, Credit Agricole rider Saul Raisin is continuing to make strong progress as regards his physical and mental recovery.
On Sunday, the 23 year old did his longest training ride since his accident, showing that his fitness is continuing to build. Yesterday with David Sprinkle, David Randolph, A.J Meyers (a 15 year old talent), Andy Meyers and Tracy, I did my longest and hardest ride after my accident, he wrote on his webpage www.saulraisin.com. With some good friends, we rode 200k/120 miles from Chatsworth, Georgia to Brass Town Bald. We rode over 8 big mountain passes and got in about around 20,000 ft of climbing It was a 8 hour, 5000 calorie epic ride. I am getting very strong mentally and physically.
Raisin suffered injury to his brain in the April 4th crash in the Circuit de la Sarthe, but has shown very encouraging signs of recovery. On the 20th of November he received encouraging results from a neurological examination and this too was a boost to his morale.
I had a huge Neuro Phy test a few weeks ago, he wrote. It took eight hours and tested my mental capacity and thinking level. I received the results this last Monday.. To make it short, my doctors said if I was a normal business person or a college student they would release me to go back to work or school (but I am a pro cyclist). For my age and education I am average or above average... My doctors were very surprised. They have never seen someone with the amount of damage I had do as well as I did, this short after the accident. What can I say?? I have been blessed.
Although he has been told by his doctors that a return to pro racing is not guaranteed, the talented American rider is hoping to be able to do so at some point in the future. Earlier this autumn he attended a get-together of his Credit Agricole squad and posed for 2007 team issue photographs; all going well, he will line out with them late next season or in 2008.
Manager Roger Legeay has pledged his support, speaking to Cyclingnews this summer about Raisins return. For sure his place is in the Credit Agricole team, he stated in August. I am very pleased his health is good. I have very strong hopes that he can race again, and I think he will do so. His first big victory will be when he is once again on a start line. After that, I hope he can ride again at his [usual] level.
Raisins top results have been a win in the mountains classification in the 2005 Tour de lAvenir and a mountain stage victory in the Tour de Langkawi last February. On March 31st next year he will lead the "Raisin Hope" ride for brain and spinal cord injuries, starting in his hometown of Dalton, Georgia.