A Terrace triathlete is determined to not let a recent bike accident get in her way of crossing the finish line at the world championships in Australia this September.
Royleen Wensvoort, 30, was riding on her racing bike with a group of 10 others down Old Remo Road on August 16 when she said she turned a corner and hit an unmarked patch of road construction 18-kilometres into the ride.
Wensvoort, who also works as a paramedic, was just weeks away from representing Canada at the International Triathlon Union (ITU) Triathlon World Championships alongside 5,000 of the world’s elite athletes in Gold Coast, Australia when the accident happened.
“As we’re coming down the hill we came around the corner and there was this unmarked section where they had just started seal-coating, so it was the fresh oil with the crushed gravel on top and all ten of us hit it. It was awful,” Wensvoort said.
|The location of the unmarked patch of road construction on Old Remo Road.|
“I was probably the third person on to it, the guys ahead of me had no time to react. You come around the corner, and there it is.”
She hit the patch on an angle and tried to correct her bike before hitting the brakes, sending her tumbling end over end onto the gravel with enough force to dislodge thumbnail-sized chunks from her helmet, cracking it along the sides. Wensvoort and another rider, who is also recovering, were taken to hospital from the scene in an ambulance.
“It’s just by luck that we were the only two who were injured,” she said. “Thank God I had that helmet on because without it, this would be a very different conversation.”
She suffered a mild concussion, sprained shoulder and severe road rash from the accident, meaning her meticulous and intense exercise regimen would have to be put on hold. But Wensvoort said with all the obstacles she’s had to overcome already, there was never a doubt in her mind – she would recover and make it to Australia.
“When you put your heart and soul into this after all this time, now I’m three weeks out. I can’t stop now, right? It’s going to hurt, but I’m going to go out there and I’m going to give it my all.”
She qualified for the Sprint Distance Triathlon, which consists of a 750-metre swim, a 20-km bike and a five-km run, last July at the ITU World Triathlon Series in Edmonton and finished in fifth place with a time of 1:29:21. Since the accident, she said she has had to refocus her goals from accomplishing a faster time to maintaining her recovery with twice-weekly physiotherapy and a fierce determination.
|Royleen Wensvoort competing at the ITU World Triathlon Series in Edmonton July 29, 2017. (Contributed photo)|
“I can’t run, but I can use a Stairmaster. I can’t ride my bike outside, I don’t have my racing bike, but I have another bike and I set it up inside and rode what I could,” she said. “I got to keep things moving and I have to keep things going as much as I can to try and maintain it, little bit by little bit.”
Getting past the accident is an emotional process, Wensvoort said, but with the support of family, friends and the community, she is ready to take on the challenge and finish what she’s spent years training to achieve.
“I have a four-year-old son and he’s been helping me put band-aids on, and help me through it all, and someday he’s going to go through something in his life where he’s going to say, ‘I can’t do this’, and I’ll show him all the pictures and say, ‘Yeah you can,’” Wensvoort said, who just a few years ago didn’t know how to swim.
“Even in this accident, I’ve always believed that your limits are your own mind. Where you set your limits in your head, that’s where your limits are. But if you leave that open, and you don’t know and you go out and you push past it and push harder, you never know what could happen.”
Wensvoort heads to Australia on September 7 in time for the race on September 13 in Gold Coast.