By Shane Stokes
American rider Saul Raisin reached a highly significant milestone in his recovery on Wednesday when he trained on the road for the first time since his very serious accident on April 4th.
Raisin has defied expectations with the speed and extent of his recovery, leaving rehab earlier than expected and also doing rides of up to 4 hours in duration on the indoor trainer. Last week he started using the rollers, proving that his balance had fully returned, and then this Wednesday he took the decision to head out on a 90 minute training ride with his father near his home in Dalton, Georgia.
All went well and Raisin wrote about the accomplishment on his website www.saulraisin.com. "Today was the best day I have ever had on a bike," he stated. "I feel like I won a huge race. Today I rode on the road for an hour and half with my Dad. It has been a little over four months since I crashed and was in a coma.. Today was nothing short of a miracle."
The 23 year old's goal is to return to the peloton and while doctors were initially reserved about his chances, the progress he has made thus far is very reassuring vis-à-vis that aim. Credit Agricole manager Roger Legeay told Cyclingnews this week that providing Raisin can reach the necessary level of fitness, he will have a place on the team once again.
"For sure his place is in the Credit Agricole team," he said on Monday. "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 level.
"Prior to his accident, Saul progressed each year, improving step by step. He has a good talent and it is necessary to plan his career. He has made good progression since his time in the Credit Agricole Espoirs and the plan this year was that he would take part in the Giro d'Italia. He is a climber and it is necessary to learn in the big races, riding with the strong riders. That was the plan [before his accident], and we hope he will get back to that level."
Raisin has said that his goal is to prove that those who have suffered brain injuries can go on to lead successful lives. Besides raising money for the Shepherd Centre [where he was treated in the US] through the sale of his Raisin' Hell wristbands, he has also built up a friendship with Bret Neylon, the rider who was paralysed during a crash in the sprint finish at the end of the Summer Solstice race in Ohio in June.
Click here for the full Saul Raisin interview