Ben Spies has admitted rushing his return from a serious right shoulder injury after the Ignite Ducati rider missed last weekend’s Jerez race and will also be missing for the forthcoming French round in Le Mans.
The Texan has struggled to regain 100% fitness and strength after he suffered serious muscle damage in his right shoulder following a heavy crash in a rain-hit Sepang race in Malaysia last October.
Spies spoke exclusively to MCN from his home in Dallas to give an update on his rehabilitation.
What kept you out of Jerez?
“I’ve got a problem with my pectoral muscle where it connects into the soft tissue in the shoulder. It takes time to heal and the doctor didn’t want me to ride to give myself time to recover with the shoulder too.
"I probably wouldn’t have hurt my pectoral muscle if my shoulder had been 100% but the problem is I’ve lost so much muscle off my back that it’s been hard to rehab.
"Right at the point when the shoulder was ready to start rehab I was flying to Malaysia for testing and to Italy for the launch and then Jerez for the test.
"Since the shoulder has been good enough I’ve had to travel or race and I had to skip over a bunch of rehab and it caught up with me.”
What rehab are you doing?
“Four or five days a week for three hours I go to a clinic. It is very good because when you lose so much muscle off a certain area and you start to do a workout you’ll compensate and use other parts of your body.
"But when you have somebody there that is working specifically with you, as soon as you try and cheat or compensate they bring you back and make you work that muscle that’s weak.”
It is almost seven months since the initial crash, so when do you think you will be 100%?
“Talking with the doctors they think I’m suffering because I came back too soon and their opinion was that it was a six to eight month recovery from the surgery.
"Being 100% might not be until a little bit after Mugello. But I need to do the rehab to try and have a good middle and end of season rather than just riding and being sore and constantly setting myself back.”
Do you feel you came back too soon?
“I am not afraid to admit that I did come back too soon but I had good reason to do it. I’m in a new team and I was trying to get used to the bike. But coming back as soon as I did definitely prolonged the rehab and I shouldn’t have done both Malaysia tests and instead done the concentrated rehab instead of flying everywhere.
"Now I’m suffering but it was a catch 22. I was trying to do everything I could for the team and myself to be out on the bike. But trying to keep everybody else happy was the mistake I made.”
When are you hoping to be back in action?
“My goal is to get back on the bike as soon as I can. Now every couple of sessions of rehab I can notice the difference but where my right shoulder is compared to my left shoulder, it is still a long way off.
"If somebody takes a pic of my shoulder it is only two-thirds of the size of the other one but that has to be built back up slowly and I’m doing everything I can to do that.
"When I come back I want to be 100% and not just riding around. This time I’m going to listen and come back and be able to ride at 100%.”
How frustrating has it been so far this year not being able to give 100%?
“At the first two races I have not been 100% and I’ve not been able to ride at 100%. We need to do this in order to get back to where I need to be and not just go out there for the sake of being out there and on the grid.
"I need to be out there getting results and doing the best I can for Ducati and the team and I’m looking at it for a better middle and end of the year and also 2014 rather than coming back and struggling through for no good reason.
"I want to get back on the bike and not have problems with my shoulder. I want to come back to ride and not worry about anything else.”