Saturday, July 13, 2024

Skyler Howes continues recovery after Sonora crash, might avoid surgery

Skyler Howes entered the Sonora Rally as the defending winner, but left in a helicopter with his shoulder in a cast. On the plus side, his recovery has made plenty of progress in the two weeks since the race such that he might not have to go under the knife.

Howes’ rally abruptly ended in Stage #2 when he was riding along a thirty-kilometre straight filled with holes and ruts. His Husqvarna bike hit a deep compression that caused the rear end to kick up, briefly sending him airbourne as he approached a righthand corner. Unable to stop to complete the turn, he went straight into a three-foot drop and the ensuing landing threw him into a cactus. The impact recorded over twenty-seven g’s of force upon hitting the ground.

He suffered multiple fractures to the scapula, one of which was displaced by over a centimetre, while also tearing a rotator cuff and sustaining damage to his shoulder muscle.

Credit: Skyler Howes

“I came to a stop with the air knocked out of me and gurgled up a little blood, and when I finally caught a breath that’s when the pain set in on my shoulder,” wrote Howes. “Just goes to show at this speed even the tiniest little thing can have a massive impact. We take a lot of risk out there and sometimes you get bit.”

Sam Sunderland, Howes’ classmate in the World Rally-Raid Championship‘s RallyGP category and reigning champion, also crashed on the same straightaway and hurt his knee and wrists. The pair were airlifted back to the bivouac for further evaluation.

Entering Stage #2, he was eighth in the Sonora RallyGP overall after respectively finishing eighth and sixth in the Prologue and first stage.

Left: X-ray after one week; right: X-ray after two weeks (Credit: Skyler Howes)

On Tuesday, two weeks after the accident, Howes revealed positive developments in his rehabilitation.

“Hard to tell from the X-ray but everything has become pretty stable and aligned,” he began. “Some bone growth already just in 2 weeks which is crazy good. The muscles and ligaments are damaged but in good shape. So looks like no surgery and I can get to full focus on PT and getting the healing done as quickly as possible and the mobility and strength back. It will still be quite a few weeks till I can get back to full activity. Looking like just over a month from now before I can even think about getting on a mtb let alone a dirt bike. So just going to continue to focus on healing!”

After his retirement, he fell from fifth in the championship to sixth, trailing leader Toby Price by twenty-eight points. His Husqvarna team-mate Luciano Benavides sits second in the standings.

The American finished third in the season-opening Dakar Rally and sixth at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. He will have plenty of time to heal and get back on the bike as the next W2RC round, the Desafío Ruta 40, does not begin until 28 August.

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