After a rough 2012 season, Sarah Kaufmann (Stan's NoTubes Elite Women's Team) is just happy to be back on her bike. The Utah rider is back to racing at the Trans-Sylvania Epic mountain bike stage race, her first major race since contracting mono and getting hit by a car.
Kaufmann raced the Trans-Sylvania Epic in 2012, but the race did not going according to plan. Little did she know at the time that it would be the begining of a rough streak of luck.
"After this race last year, where I had three flats, I was bummed," said Kaufmann to Cyclingnews. "Then I went home and got mono. I had mono for July and and August. I started to feel better in September and got on my bike a little."
"At the end of October, I got hit by a car and broke my pelvis and broke my hand. I shattered my elbow - it will never be the same."
Kaufmann was out of commission for about eight months of the year and only got back onto a bike for some easy cruises in January of this year. "I did my first race a couple of weeks ago at Mesa Verde. I knew I wanted to do something before I came here. I'm so glad I'm able to come back here. This is my first big race after injury."
In some ways, getting hit by a car after having mono may have been a blessing in disguise. "It's easy to come back too soon from mono and then get something else, so maybe I was fortunate in a way," she said.
Unfortunately for Kaufmann, she is not done dealing with the fall out from the accident. "The person who hit me stopped and got out of the car and said he was sorry. He had turned in front of me, and I hit the car," she said. "I've had to hire a lawyer to deal with the insurance companies, which sucks because I never wanted to sue anyone, but as a regular person, you can't deal with this stuff or negotiate it on your own. I'm still kind of waiting for everything."
"Going through this, it's so bizarre because you can't put a dollar value on that stuff, but that's what it all comes down to when you look at it through the eyes of the insurance companies."
Kaufmann still has to have a surgery to take the hardware out of her elbow. "I have like eight pins and some cables in my elbow," she said. "I didn't even know it at first. It's going to cost more to have it out."
Kaufmann spoke thoughtfully about her experience and dealing with the ongoing aftermath.
"I feel myself getting emotional just talking about it. It's traumatic to think about your body being totally destroyed. And really, I was lucky - I didn't hit my head or my back."
She came to the Trans-Sylvania with low expectations and a positive attitude.
"The silver lining is that now I look at things as I'm just happy to be healthy and riding and everything else is a bonus, like any results. I'm lucky Stan's took me back after a rough year."
Kaufmann said she doesn't notice her physical injuries when she races, but she does feel really sore after each stage and the next day.
"My pelvis and hand are fine generally. My hand strength is still a little lower, and I have some imbalances. I feel my elbow on drops or when I weight the bike into a corner."
The mental effects of the accident are still there. "I think I'm a little more cautious and more protective of my body."
Clearly happy to be back racing, Kaufmann is looking forward to a bunch of other races this summer.
"I have a pretty full schedule now," she said. "I'm not following the Pro XCT series because I missed so much of the series already, but I'm planning to go to Mont-Sainte-Anne World Cup because my parents live in Massachusetts. I'll also do the Vermont Pro XCT."
Also on the list for the fall are the Park City Point-2-Point where she lives and the Pisgah stage race.
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Sue George is an editor at Cyclingnews. She coordinates all of the site's mountain bike race coverage and assists with the road, 'cross and track coverage.
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