Well known downhill mountain biker Olie Burton has come a long way since an accident last April in North Wales. Olie landed on uneven ground and crashed headlong into a tree, badly damaging his knee and dislocating his hip.
Since then it's been a long, slow road to recovery - an eight day hospital stay back in April 2013, followed by ongoing hydrotherapy, Kinesio Taping and dry land exercise.
But Olie is now delighted to be back on form, attaining 10th place in round 3 of the Portuguese national series in Tarouca, on 3rd and 4th May and looking forward to a full season during 2014.
He barely touches down from Portugal before he heads up to Fort William in Scotland for the second round of the British Downhill Series on 10 and 11 May. This will give him a test run of the Fort William track before he's back there later in the summer for round Three of the Mountain Bike World Cup.
The man-made downhill track at Fort William is long, fast, rocky and very challenging with a vertical drop of 525m and a length of 2.66km. Riders encounter bus stops, tight bermed corners (hairpin bends that almost go around in a full circle), rock gardens, exposed hillside, slab rock, forest single track, tight gullies and big jumps before they drop down into the finish.
On 31 May and 1 June, Olie heads to the Scottish Borders for the third round of the Saracen British Downhill series at the Forest of Ae in Dumfrieshire. The Forest of Ae has been a popular downhill venue for many years. With the construction of the 24km red-graded Ae Line and more recently some easier green and blue-graded routes it's now a great spot for cross country riders too.
The Ae Line offers huge emphasis on fun, with numerous jumps and drop offs, culminating in a dramatic final section of single-track descent known as the Omega Man which has numerous bermed corners, table tops, double jumps, drop-offs and an optional log ride close to the end.
Round Three of the World Cup in Fort William on 7 and 8 June will be Olie's toughest challenge yet since his accident. The top 300 riders in the world will be competing, but he's hoping all the training, exercise and Kinesio taping will pay off and is aiming to reach the top 40 at least.
The Mountain Bike World Cup 2014 continues with Round Four on 14 and 15 June in Leogang, Austria and Olie will be there to compete before another Austrian date on 21 and 22 June at the European Downhill Cup in Schladming.
Olie continues to use Kinesio Taping regularly. He says: "I find Kinesio helps with many injuries in different circumstances. While I was recovering from last year's accident and just back on my feet I found that having Kinesio tape applied to weaker areas during training felt comfortable and gave me more confidence to push myself more physically because I knew those weak areas were being supported.
"Now that I'm better, I use Kinesio regularly on my wrists, knees and back to help alleviate strain injuries when racing or training. With a busy race schedule like I have this June, often I don't get the time to let an injury heal completely after one race before I start another, but if I'm strapped up with Kinesio, it continues to support me, lessen any pain and strengthens the affected area so I can continue racing without it doing me any harm."
For more information on Olie and see films of him racing, go to www.olieburton.co.uk