Rizla Suzuki triple British Superbike Champion John Reynolds has been speaking openly and exclusively to www.rizla-suzuki.co.uk about his fight back to fitness after the crash at Brands Hatch in October that ended his racing career.
The 42-year-old fans' favourite is currently at home in Nottingham with his family applying his traditional indominatable spirit to the task of getting back to full health, as well as looking forward to a new career.
JR said: "Lying in hospital, I had a lot of time to think. I initially reflected on how lucky I was to come through the accident. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it had very little to do with luck.
"When I crashed I was wearing the very best protective equipment money can buy. My Arai helmet, Teknic leathers, Alpinestars boots and Knox back protector are what saved me from suffering potentially far worse injuries. They did exactly what they were designed to do. Without this protective equipment, I dread to think what may have happened given my high-speed impact. I was prepared and wearing the best protection possible and glad of it. I'd advise any rider to make sure they are properly protected when they go out - the kit works, I've tested it and know!
"Getting better will be a fairly long process. The first week in hospital was a non-event as I waited to be transferred to either Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham or another hospital in London. I desperately wanted to move to Nottingham so I could be closer to my family and thankfully a week later my wish came true.
"It was then another week of lying in bed thinking that I wouldn't need an operation on my back. As the week wore on however, the doctors thought it may be beneficial to operate after all and once they said that, it all happened very quickly. I then spent another week in hospital recovering from the operation before I was allowed home.
"Being at home is great, but I still feel like I've been high sided at 120mph and landed flat on my back. If I lift a glass of water for a drink, it is excruciatingly painful. But make no mistake, I think this is to be expected when you are recovering from the sort of injuries I've had and the muscles that have been left idle for five weeks are being forced to work again. I feel better and stronger with every passing day and as I work the muscles, they are getting better and the pain is receding.
"At first when I came home I just lay in bed doing my best not to move and to avoid pain. After a few days of doing that, one morning I made a decision that I needed to do something about it. I was tired of being stationary and suffering, so I forced myself to get up, have a shower and go downstairs. It might not sound it, but that was a real workout for me and took two-and-a-half-hours from start to finish. I was exhausted, but that was when my recovery really started. I've been doing the same every day since and it's getting easier every time. Movement is doing me good and I'm trying to do a little more every day and that is helping. The doctors are happy with the progress I've made and the signs are all positive for a full recovery - it's really just a question of time.
"My wife Shelley has been a star through all of this. Her dad was poorly and taken into hospital at the same time as me and she coped with that as well as looking after our son Ben at the same time. Thankfully her dad is much better now and as I write this, I am now getting ready to go out for a meal with Shelley and both her parents. I'm looking forward to getting out of the house if I'm honest...
"I've said it before, but I need to say it again - thanks to everyone who has helped me, from Toby Branfoot the trackside doctor, to all the staff at Darent Valley and Queens Medical Centre, including David Hahn, the doctor who sorted my leg injury from my pre-season crash. David's kept an eye on me of late, which is much appreciated. In fairness, all the medical staff have done a fantastic job and I am grateful to them all. The positive and caring reaction from the race fans and the motorcycle community at large has been overwhelming - I've been humbled by the whole experience.
"All of the support has also encouraged me and while I am disappointed not to be racing again, I have come to terms with the fact that you have to stop at some point. I so wanted to race again in 2006 and win the title for Rizla Suzuki, but two huge accidents in one season is enough warning for anyone.
"I am now looking forward to a new role with Suzuki and can't wait to get started. I'm going to help the team in any way that I can to regain the Championship. It's going to be different, but for the first time ever, I'll be able to take part in the social life of the team and enjoy the racing as a very interested and involved spectator. I'll be the sport's newest fan.
"In the meantime, I'll be keeping the website updated with my progress and hope to see you all soon."
For more news, visit www.rizla-suzuki.co.uk,