Jason Polakow is unfortunately injured again. At the end of May he had a
serious wipe out on his moto-x bike and broke his foot. If his recovery
runs smooth and quickly, there is a slight chance that Jason might compete
in Ireland again, but that will be the earliest...
Jason Polakow's thoughts after his third major motocross accident
I'm sitting in Athens airport with a freshly broken foot from yet another
motocross accident. I've just injected anti-thrombosis curium into my
stomach to stop clotting, my flight leaves in six hours and I can't stop
thinking about the irony of it all.
At some point you have to put things into perspective. Your dreams, while
inspiring, can sometimes be your undoing. It certainty looked that way for
me. I can remember every motor bike accident. They're as vivid as my last
piss. Do you remember 1994? I do, in painful, graphic detail. A broken knee
cap with two steel pins running through the bone and a high-tensile wire
looped around the ends of the pins and pulled nice and tight. Did it hold!
No. Why? Went back too soon - the classic Polakow manoeuvre. Another
operation, three new screws fitted and another six months of recovery.
You would have thought I would have learned my lesson!
Flash forward to April, 2001. It's so clear I can still smell the burning
I'd arrived at the track early, along with the boys; Matt and Kevin
Prichard, Nik Baker and Victor from the JP custom shop. The track was
pretty good and I felt really comfortable. I remember railing an outside
corner with plenty of speed. Up ahead was a small double jump, then a
larger one. My rear wheel hit a rock at the top of the first ramp and
instantly flicked the rear wheel over my head. I face-planted into the next
jump only to be hit from behind by my bike a second later. This little
episode ended up with a broken wrist and a couple of stainless steel screws.
Whenever I have a big crash I do two things: jump straight up and wave to
everyone and secondly: walk to my twisted machine and try to pick it up. I
think the first reaction is an attempt to convince myself I'm okay. The
second is to show everyone it was just a minor incident; a
'nothing-to-see-here-people' scenario. But no matter how you fake it, a
crash of that magnitude always brings people running, especially when one
of your friends is right behind with the box-seat view. "Are you okay?
thought you were dead". I'd like a dollar for every time I've heard that!
always answer, "I'm fine". Those two words somehow tell my brain I'm
actually okay, even if I'm not.
Hell, in 1994 I somehow walked to the side of the track when I broke my
kneecap in half. I can still remember smashing my knee with my fist,
thinking it was only dislocated.
When I broke my foot recently I walked back to the car and took my boot off
as if nothing had happened. Who was to know my foot was smashed and would
need bone grafts from my hip and a couple of screws to fix it. Is it
adrenaline or just me telling myself I'm fine?
It feels like a lifetime when you're sitting in the recovery room waiting
for the doctor to give you the news. You start asking Jesus for help. But
if you're like me, you've already used up all your get-out-of-jail-free
cards and the only thing that can save you is a
surgeon and a long fucking stainless steel screw.
Whenever I get accident related news, two gut-wrenching things go through
my mind: one, the reaction when I tell my father and, two, what my
sponsors are going to say.
Things are clearer the next day when you've had time to evaluate your
options. The only question is how long until you are able to sail again.
But the only person who can answer that is the surgeon. Once you have that
news, it's time to set goals. Self-motivation, and having something to look
forward to, is the key to quick recovery.
That special something on the horizon can be any number of things. To some
it might be walking the dog along the beach again. My long-term goal was to
windsurf again. But you have to have short-term goals as well. It doesn't
matter how simple. When I woke up last month from surgery I was very
nauseated. I had drain hoses coming out of my hip and leg. What was my
goal? To get home! The doctor said I would be in hospital for at least five
days. I was out the next day. If you can, try to see past your inability to
function normally. Try to keep your schedules. It's just going to take a
little longer, that's all. Within three weeks of last month's surgery, I
was on a plane to the JP distributor meeting. Now I'm at the Athens
airport, writing about my latest mishap and waiting for that flight. It's
obviously not the cleverest idea to leave so soon after surgery but, at the
same time, I have a responsibility to my sponsors, even if I can't sail.
Dreams of being better are great. The bigger the dreams, even unreachable
ones, are healthy to a degree. One of my favourite recurring dreams was to
have my very own
So six months ago I purchased 100 acres of land with the specific purpose
of building the ultimate track. I bought and rented machines to build and
maintain the ultimate
track only to have another motocross accident. Was it silly to go to those
extremes, like my father thinks, or was it all worth it? I suppose many
people around the world laugh among themselves at what a dickhead I am but
I can tell you not many of them have turned their dreams into a" picture
card " reality. There is of course a price to pay. Facing reality can only
be avoided for so long before it bites you in the arse.
No person is invincible, especially when riding a motocross bike.
So what do you do when the very people who gave you the opportunity to have
this career and fulfil your dreams are now the ones insisting you never
ride a bike again? Contracts and tempers are raised. There's not a leg you
can stand on because deep down you know they are right. The only things you
can fall back on are the years of
dedication you have given the company and the friendships you have nurtured
with staff members and company owners. You could try to dazzle them with
past experiences: you came back from a broken knee cap in '94 to win two
world titles; you broke your wrist and in the same year won the last two
wave grand prix of the year. But in the end, they're still pissed and have
every right to be. Luckily, the windsurfing fraternity, especially my
sponsors, are a great bunch of people and have put up with my shit for years.
Life is not what you know but who you know and it just so happens I know
the guy who knows everyone - my dad. Without him I'd still be in a hospital
bed wondering why life has passed me buy ! People bitch and moan all the
time but it's the people who love you who make the difference. Having highs
and lows in life is absolutely necessary. If it were all good times how
would we ever really get exited ? Where would I be if I added up all my
catastrophes and all my highlights? I bet I'd be right in the sweet spot
So what do you say to some young kid who wants to follow in your footsteps.
Was the 10 seconds of glory worth the six months of rehabilitation? Was the
10 seconds as you were flying threw the air worth the stress it put on your
family and girlfriend. Was the 10 seconds of total adrenaline worth
the loss of income? The answer is no! But was the 12 months of
rehabilitation worth the opportunity to do something you've loved for 12
years? The answer my friends is yes, with a capital Y to be able to
windsurf again was certainly worth it.
Life deals the cards and you can either fold or up the ante. I choose to up
the ante. For every broken bone there's a story. It may not be a perfectly
perfect story but at the very least it's one that builds character. So I'm
still sitting here, at the airport, pondering the future. The first thing
that comes to mind is how difficult it is to have sex with a broken
right foot and a punctured left hip. I`m basically screwed which ever way I
turn. But in all honesty everything is just where it should be. Its all a
learning experience, it's just taken me a little longer to learn, that's
all. Maybe my thoughts are a little out of left field and I'm sure some
will draw criticism.
I'd rather have 10 loyal fans feeling the same way than 100 screaming fans
who don't really know what the hell I'm about.
Someone once said "work hard play hard" I have played to hard a few
already but I have always worked hard afterwards to make up for it and
that's what you will see again this time I will be back.