YT Mob Log: Entry Three

All About Angel

Words by Angel Suarez // Photos by Isac Paddock/YT Mob

When I joined the YT Mob last year a lot of people didn’t know my name internationally, and I guess they were somehow surprised to hear my name on the roster. To be honest, so was I. I’m excited to have such a good opportunity to write something and give you some ideas of what this experience has been like so far.

Having the opportunity to be on the YT MOB in 2016 with Aaron Gwin as my teammate was incredible! Who wouldn’t dream of that? I put a lot of energy towards having fun and enjoying what I do, but besides that, the next most important thing is results. Focusing on earning those results has led me to be a part of a team where I’m riding the best bikes out there. This is a dream come true. This season is the second year with the team and I still can’t believe how lucky I am!

Last year was supposed to be my best year on the World Cup circuit because of the opportunity I have to ride with this team, but it’s crazy how difficult this sport can be sometimes. I did all I could before the start of the 2016 season to be in the best shape I could, but after the two first races I had to conclude that these were the worst two World Cup races I’d ever had. During training I had a stupid crash that ended in the dislocation of my shoulder and after that I was struggling a lot with that injury for the rest of the season. To add insult to injury, before finishing the year I dislocated my other shoulder in the last race of the season.

After going home and getting these evaluated, it was clear that both needed surgery, but of course you can’t do both at the same time. Going into winter about to have two surgeries I wasn’t sad because the first thing for me was to have the first surgery as soon as possible so I could be on the way to fix my problems. The sooner I got the first shoulder done, the sooner I could get the second one done, and the sooner I could start working to be 100% fit and ready for the first race of the season.

After both surgeries were done, I started working as hard as I could in the gym, which meant I was in the gym 5 days a week during the 4 month recovery time. I didn’t miss a single day and was driven by the desire to come back strong and join my team in Lourdes.

Even though I was in the gym for all those months, I wasn’t able to get on my YT TUES downhill bike until a month and a half before the first race because the 5 months of surgery and recovery meant I couldn’t do full downhill runs until then. It was hard but I knew my best chance at full recovery was to listen to the doctor’s orders. After so much gym time everything was feeling really good and I was really stoked to get on the big bike. It was time to get ready for the first race……but that didn’t happen.

I crashed on the last training run of the day before leaving for Lourdes and I broke my arm near the wrist. I was training with my new teammate, Neko Mulally, who is the best. We were just enjoying some runs near Martin’s house and all was going good. I was enjoying the feel of my fresh XL bike that my mechanic Ben had built to perfection. It just felt so good to be back on the bike and I was truly enjoying being out with Neko, after such a difficult winter. Life couldn’t have been better at that moment….and then everything changed in a matter of seconds. It was a simple crash, at low speed, front wheel washed out on the sandy trail. I put my arm down to prevent falling on my face. There were some uneven rocks and they just caught my arm and broke me!

Flying home to Vigo when everyone else was going to Lourdes was horrible….being injured again and having to go see my doctor for another surgery–words can’t explain. I knew before I went see him that I was going to miss at least the first three races of the World Cup season and that is terrible for me, when you love something this much, these feelings can affect everything, and this time I was struggling to stay positive, it’s so hard to deal with sometimes.

We all know downhill is a hard sport and in my opinion every athlete needs to learn how deal with injuries because if you’re taking risks you will sometimes fail. In an ideal world, we would never fail while taking all the risks we need to, but that isn’t the real world. This is where I think many differences lie in our sport. In order to succeed you have to be so consistent race after race, avoiding injury and health issues, while pushing your body and bike to the limit. Learning how to avoid injury is great, but even more important is learning how to deal with injury and recovery once it’s happened. I’ve learned it’s important to take a long term approach and not get caught up too much in the moment, where things can appear to be at their worst. It won’t stay like this and we need to remember, it can only get better.

The thing I always try to remember is that in my case the feeling of love for riding my bike and racing is always stronger and more positive than the infrequent bad moments, so I will keep trying, always! When you ride for a top team with an amazing group of sponsors who are always supporting you and understand the nature of our sport, it helps you through the bad days. Sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office, your mind can play tricks on you. Sometimes I close my eyes, hear the crowd on the side of a World Cup track going crazy, remember all the positive vibes from the people who believe in me. The smile comes back and I know it will get better. I’ll be back out there, riding with Aaron and Neko, as soon as I can!