The Miracle Man’s TT 2017 CRASH – Ian Hutchinson

Conditions were near-perfect for the PokerStars Senior TT and what a spectacle it became with Peter Hickman and Ian Hutchinson swapping the lead on several occasions over the first 60 miles of the race.

A standing start lap of 131.828mph had given Hickman a 1.7 second lead over Hutchinson, with Dean Harrison a close third. Hutchy had grabbed the lead back at Glen Helen, even though Harrison had produced the faster sector time on the nine-mile stretch from Douglas.

Hutchinson was still leading at Ballaugh, but Hickman was back in front by 0.184s at Ramsey Hairpin, with Harrison another second down in third. But Hutchinson failed to make the Bungalow and minutes later a red flag situation was implemented across the course – Hutchy came off at the 27th miletone

As the Bruce Anstey came into the pit lane, however, red flags were shown on Glencrutchery road. It was initally unclear who was involved in the incident, but Tyco BMW team have posted on social media, confirming it was Hutchinson involved however conscious, and on his way to Nobles Hospital by helicopter with suspected leg injuries, later confirmed as a broken femur.

Guardian Angel Krkovic

Ian Hutchinson, dubbed the ‘miracle man’ following his incredible sporting comeback, said: “When I did my leg again there was only one man I wanted to see, Dr. Krkovic. “He did amazing work first time round. He didn’t just say ‘go home and rest’ – he really took the time to understand my sport and my training regime, to get me back to work.”

After the 2010 crash Hutchinson had compound fractures to the bones running down from his knee, with two of the three arteries feeding blood to the foot damaged. He was treated in the University Hospital of Coventry.

“When I got to hospital I was heavily sedated but coming round I was told my leg was going to be taken off and I started screaming that no matter what happens don’t take my leg off. Then I was taken down for an operation to try and brace it. They put some rods on and other stuff as a temporary measure. From that point on I was in ga-ga land for about a week.

“There are three arteries that feed blood to your foot, two of them had got severed or trapped and when they stop they can never be repaired or brought back. There was no pulse where they were checking but one of them was still intact so once they got my leg straightened out they found my foot was still alive.”

Hutchinson returned to the track the next year but after a further setback, in 2012, he faced 18 months’ recovery notching up his 30th procedure with Dr Krkovic, in September 2013. Returning earlier than planned, he headed to Macau just weeks after with the Milwaukee Yamaha squad where he stunned the motorcycle racing world by taking pole position and storming to a sensational race victory.

He was initially told he’d never walk again but through sheer determination, hard work and alterations to his machines including a right-footed gearshift and thumb brake, he managed to return to the top step at last year’s TT.

“It was tough coming back, you always think ‘it’ll never happen to me’ and then when it does you think ‘it’ll never happen again’! It all turns into a blur. It seems like it was such a long time, I remember when it happened I thought I’d just be injured for three months but I was injured for three years.

“If I had known I would be out for three years I probably wouldn’t have been able to get through it, but I broke it down and didn’t think about how long it’d take. I was trying to train really early on, within six months of the crash, and I really shouldn’t have. I was always working and training to make the whole process as quick as possible. No matter how long it took, you could not have got back faster than I did and that’s what made it all worthwhile.”

“When you have an injury you are quite scared of a motorbike, you don’t want to go near one again but it’s a bit like a hangover, when you’re never going to drink again but when the hangover is gone you’re straight back out drinking. The hardest bit was when I was told I wouldn’t get the lift back on my left foot. No matter what state my leg was in, every time I saw the surgeon I just asked him about getting the lift back in my foot so I could change gear on a bike.”

“He eventually said to me ‘Why can’t you just change gear with your right foot?’. This was coming from someone who is obviously very good at being a surgeon but not so good at racing a motorbike, so I told him he had no idea what it’d be like to try and change gear with your right foot! When it sunk in and I realised it was my only option I began to look into it and that was probably the only time I thought I might not win again.”

Despite the severity of his injuries and the amount of time it took him to recover, Hutchinson says he not once considered retiring.  What kept and still keeps his hopes and desires to win further TT races alive?

He ones said in an interview: “I always knew that I had it in me to do it. Once I got over the fact that my foot had been saved my biggest concern was the gearshift. I had massive concerns that I could ever be as good as I had been with a right hand foot  gear shift. As for the rest of it I always knew there was no reason why I couldn’t ride as well again.

 

“I’ve seen my leg in states that you should never see your own body in. I’ve been sat on my sofa at home, my leg in a frame and seen the bone hanging out of the back of the leg fully exposed. All those images never leave you, they stick with you for life.”

“To just sit on your arse and go through everything I did to heal my leg was massive. But I never did sit on my arse. I went training, I went abroad to swim with my trainer so I could get off my crutches quicker. I was weight-bearing at the earliest possible time I could. I adapted a bike so I could go cycling. All these things were not for fun. It was to get my fitness back and my leg stronger as soon as I could. And I still go to the gym every day.” However, despite the endless antidotes to get himself and his body back in shape, that left leg will never return to normal.

“Unfortunately the leg was in a frame for such a long time the tendons got glued down and my ankle has very little movement in it,” explained the Bingley man. “The main tendon that lifts your foot got eaten away by infection and is pretty well unrepairable. So rather than go in and have another mass destruction I had to go to a right hand gear change. I have a thumb brake for the rear.

“Strangely enough, I seem to be riding better than before the accident which seems a bit of a weird thing, perhaps it’s all the experience of watching other people racing and learning.”

It is often said, rather foolishly, that big boys don’t cry. But despair did get the better of this man of steel/titanium, and tears did flow, as he attests: “Yes, (I cried) lots. A lot of the time was the morphine, which does funny things to you. But there were definitely some dark times when you are going through all that.”

After this year’s TT crash he was back in the hands his trusted doctor, where the shattered ankle was removed and the surrounding bones were fused. He also underwent procedures to extend his leg, which was about 35mm shorter after the ankle removal, and to pin his femur.

Talking to him lately he reckons his recovery is well on schedule and expected to return on a bike just a couple of weeks ahead of the 2018 TT. It might look very optimistic to lots of people but he is called the Miracle Man…he has done it not  once, not twice…it’s the third time he is doing that. He will be back and surely as competitive as before. Crying tears of joy, hopefully, for more success.

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