The Story Behind the Photo – Nathan Bles|Ulverton 2015
By Billy Rainford
Ontario Pro rider Nathan Bles suffered a badly broken arm while practicing at Gopher Dunes just one week before the 2015 Rockstar Energy MX Nationals were set to begin last spring. It forced him to miss the majority of the racing season. In fact, it probably should have taken him out of the entire summer, but Nathan is a racer, and that’s just not how they are built.
He came back to racing on his Redemption Racing Fly Dragon KTM team for the Moncton, NB round at River Glade and then headed to Ulverton, PQ to continue racing in the MX2 class.
When I saw him fall hard, I waited to see if he’d get up. When he did, I started snapping photos. When I saw the way he was holding his left arm, I made a tweet that said something like, “I hate to have to tell you, but it looks like Nathan Bles may have re-injured his arm.” When you look at the photo, you’ll understand what I meant!
Anyway, things aren’t always as they seem. Like there often is, there is a ‘Story Behind the Photo,’ so we’ll let Nathan, himself, fill in the details.
Just one look at that photo and you know something bad happened.
This was my second race back from my broken left humerus that I had fractured just one week before the nationals started in May. Only having small amounts of riding under my belt and no conditioning, I came back at round 7 in Moncton to race the MX2 class for a fill-in spot for the team. I really didn’t have a go ahead from the doctor to ride let alone race, but that was a call I made anyway. Fortunately, I did well in Moncton finishing in the top ten and feeling stronger with the strength in my arm.
I spent the week between the rounds recouping and trying to get some feeling and some strength back in my arm. Unfortunately, I have very sensitive nerves around the elbow and shoulder from all the metal they put in during the surgery, the doctor called it nerve damage. It’s something I have been exercising and working on, and it has been getting better over time.
I was racing Westen Wrozyna at the time I crashed. I ended up landing on him and his bike after we both cross-jumped down a step-down/drop. We had been bar banging for a few corners already and I was not ready to settle just yet. We came into the corner pretty tight, he took the outside while I took the deep inside rut, both crossing each other right before the drop down the hill.
He was ahead and crossed to the right to scrub down the hill while I crossed to the left “boner airing” it over him and his bike. Both of us were at fault for this incident – no one should be cross jumping at the Pro level.
Anyway, I just clipped the back of his bike and cartwheeled onto the edge of the track landing right beside a massive boulder, luckily. At that moment, I knew I had made a big mistake. Thinking to myself, “I shouldn’t have been racing and my doctor is going to be PISSED.” When I got up and got my breath back, I was in shock as I couldn’t feel any of my entire left arm. For a moment I thought it was gone, like cut off, until I saw it lying beside me in the deep sand.
I was still panicking as I stood up. The only thing I kept telling my self was, “Not again, there’s no way!” As I walked up the hill, I got help from friends and each one asked, “Are you okay? Is your arm broken?” I didn’t know if it was or not; I couldn’t tell or feel a thing. It was dead-feeling and super heavy.
By the time I got to the trailer, the nerves started to come back and I started to get the feeling back in my arm and could move it without major pain. When I took off my jersey, a lot of sand came out of my left jersey arm, which was making it look worse than it actually was, but I had no clue, due to having no feeling, so I was scared to see what was underneath that jersey. Luckily, all was good and nothing was broken. I had just hit my arm so hard that the sensitive nerves got the best of me.
All in all, it was a scary moment and I never want that feeling again. I also learned a lot about myself and my body – you only have one and to appreciate it! Looking back now, I shouldn’t have raced the last few rounds, mostly to let my body heal and rest properly. That incident cost me another 2 months delay on my recovery time. Heck, I am just starting to feel better now. Injuries take time to fully recover, never rush it. Lesson learned!
Thanks for reading,