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Injury to Ironman: how Wattbike Atom is aiding one Wattbiker's road to recovery

Already a keen Wattbiker, Chris Scott’s training came to an abrupt halt after breaking his legs, pelvis, hands and shoulders in a motorcycling accident late last year. Ten months on, Chris’ road to recovery leads towards some big cycling dreams. We spoke to him to find out how his Wattbike Atom will be the tool to get him there. 


 Chris on his Wattbike Atom


Hi Chris, can you tell us how you got into cycling?

It all stemmed from my first career after leaving university, when I joined the military. I got posted out to New Zealand and spent a lot of time there. I did a lot of mountain biking but I very quickly realised that my ambition and my ability were very outmatched so I ended up getting hurt quite a lot, purely because of poor bike handling skills! 

I thought that I’d try road cycling instead, so I went to my local bike shop where a picture of a section of road winding up a mountain completely captivated me. It turned out to be the Stelvio Pass, and from that moment on I thought ‘I will ride that one day’. 

I bought my first road bike and started pedalling. I thought to myself “what better way to see the countryside than on a bike?” New Zealand is the most beautiful place in the world. There weren’t many cars, not many people’ it was brilliant. 

When my posting came to an end I got sent to North Yorkshire, where my boss, Rich Wallwork, was also a big cyclist, so that helped me to carry on. Whilst in the Army, I organised a trip out to France. Just after we got back from Afghanistan we cycled La Marmotte [a one day sportive for amateur riders]. That was the furthest I’d ever cycled in one go and my first experience of cycling up mountains. It captivated me and I carried on. 

When I left the Army I found myself to be pretty time poor so we invested in the Wattbike. My boss and I stayed in touch; he’d bought one and quite frankly I was jealous. I found it to be the most efficient way of training when you don’t have a huge amount of time. You can get back from work, jump on the bike for an hour or so, destress, get fit and save the outdoor cycling for the weekends!


How did you come across the Wattbike Atom?

I went for the Wattbike Atom because it was a smart trainer. My old boss had a Wattbike Pro, and I was going to go for one until I saw the advert for the Atom. When it was released it was a no brainer- a smart trainer at a good price point, so we decided to go for it. 

I’m a big fan of Zwift, so to have something that integrated so well was perfect for me. The Wattbike Atom was actually my wife’s purchase, I’ve very kindly asked if I can borrow it from her, but we both use it. My 11-year-old daughter uses it, and my son, who’s four, looks on a little jealous. I’m fairly sure he’ll be dragged into the world of cycling as well. It’s great to have something which the whole family can use, [something that is] easily adjustable. Having to take a bike on and off a trainer didn’t really make sense for all of us. 


How did it improve your training before your accident?

It was pretty much revolutionary. Beforehand I would spend a lot of early mornings going out on the road. Nothing will beat going out on the road, there’s no doubt about that. It’s fresh air and you’ve got Strava segments to beat. But in terms of effective training when you’re pretty time-poor, you can’t really beat being indoors, and the Wattbike compliments that hugely. 

All of the large gains I’ve made have come from cycling indoors. When I did my first FTP test it was about 270 watts, and then it just accelerated from there using training programmes that were on Zwift, improving my pedalling efficiency score on the Wattbike Hub app, and ultimately getting into some Zwift races. It all led to an upward trend in FTP and I peaked at 4.5w/kg, which I was pretty happy with.


Can you tell us more about your accident?

Anything on two wheels has always been a passion of mine. Back in October last year I was commuting to work in London on a motorbike, a car pulled out and didn’t look, and I crashed into them at 60mph. In my head, I cartwheeled gracefully down the road before coming to a crumpled heap, but reality shows that I headbutted the car as I went over the top and slid face down on the road for 25 metres. I was found unconscious by the roadside, not breathing until a kind member of the public stopped and, quite frankly, saved my life. I was taken to the nearby major trauma centre. I’d completely smashed up my left leg, broke my pelvis, both my shoulders, both my hands, lacerated my spleen so I was in pretty bad shape. The guys at the trauma centre had to save my life again whilst I was in their care, but they fixed me up. It was all pretty traumatic. 

They operated on all the major stuff first. The most pressing bit was my spleen, which was saved. The first surgery I had was to fix my leg, my wife told me afterwards that my leg was at a pretty crazy angle when she first saw it. I had four pins going into the bones on this piece of scaffolding around it, and three pins going into my knee at the top. Then they fixed my pelvis, my shoulder and my hands. I think I’ve had nine operations. I did a sweepstake with my friends the other day where they had to guess how many new scars I’d got. It came to 28, it’s like having a patchwork quilt on my leg!

These things very sadly happen. It just takes that one moment to not hit the brakes hard enough, or just not see a motorbike. You are vulnerable on a motorbike. You’ve got nothing encasing you and if you hit something it’s going to end pretty badly. It’s the same with bikes, I’ve crashed my bike a few times- some have been my fault, some haven’t. But you’ve got very little option than to get over it and get back on the bike. 


One of Chris' X-rays


What does your rehabilitation plan look like?

I’m currently working on my rehab training plan with some experts. I spoke to a couple of people who are happy to coach me back to fitness, but the current message is “can I please learn to walk before I start to run!” At the moment my level of training is very much going to be base training on the Wattbike to get my level of fitness back and try and maintain some form of exercise without my heart rate going through the roof. The aim is to get a full training programme done and get me back to what my original FTP was, and hopefully a little bit better.

The last piece of surgery involved having a big titanium rod inserted down the middle of my lower leg, down the tibia, because the bone that I broke never healed. I managed to get on the Wattbike for the first time very recently and managed to do a revolution with my leg. It hurt like hell was one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long while. Eight months with no exercise when you’re used to being very active was quite a challenge. The Wattbike is going to be what gets me back to fitness. I had my first physio session a few weeks ago. When I told them I was back on the bike they were very happy with that and told me to carry on doing as much as I can. 


What are your goals for when you’ve recovered?

We maintained our cycling contacts in Yorkshire and try and go away every year. We try to ride a Spring Classic Sportive and then have a week long trip in the summer. This year has been curtailed by COVID-19 and me crashing motorbikes, but that said I had already been booked on for L’Etape for September. The E’tape has now sadly been cancelled due to COVID-19, but we have rolled our entry to the next edition which is still being held in Nice, likely to be the first weekend in July 2021. A bit of a blessing really, as I will definitely be fit enough by then to complete the whole stage. 

I’ve set myself a bigger goal, COVID-19 permitting. I’m going to do a full Ironman in 2022. I’ve done a bit of research and I think Texas is going to be my race. I’ve always wanted to go there, I think a cowboy hat might suit me. You swim in a lake, the bike is flat and the run is flat, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to be warm, but there’s a long way to go yet!


Chris' triathlon set up is ready to go!


Got a story you think we should hear about? Email your story to yourstory@wattbike.com for the chance to be featured, or check out how this Wattbiker used his Wattbike Atom to train to cycle the Tour de France route

Photos: Black Dog Photography (quality reduced for block purposes)