The injury that ended a professional cyclists career
Jesse Kerrison, 25, was an Australian track and road cyclist who represented Australia in over 13 countries. He unfortunately had to forfeit his dream of being a professional cyclist in 2017, due to a complicated back injury. I spoke to Jesse to learn more about how his injury ended his professional cycling career.
Q. What got you interested in cycling and how old were you?
I was about seven, when I got into BMX. I was doing little athletics, I was doing AFL and all of those sort of things. I thought ‘BMX looks awesome’; you get to do tricks and it’s a bit of fun, so I gave that a crack. I really enjoyed it and my dad at the time got into track racing (velodrome) and I also thought ‘That looks cool, can I give that a crack?’
That’s how the development went, so then track turned to road racing and the rest is history.
Q. Personally, what were some of your greatest achievements?
In terms of pure results, probably the UCI tour of Taihu Lake. I won four stages there and that is one of the pro tour races in China. I also won best young rider jersey and there was a one day race; Tour of Yancheng Coastal Wetlands which was my first one day world tour week.
Q. How many countries have you raced in?
Twelve. I have raced in China, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany, Luxembourg, Holland, New Caledonia
Q. What caused you to quit being a professional cyclist?
I had a good season with State of Matter in 2015, I had signed with IsoWhey and I had a really good off season. I had gone into nationals and had my first year in the elite category, I had a really good nationals, went to sun tour and my performance just dropped.
In training it had been on and off, but races I generally managed to pull it together. But then in the Sun Tour there was something wrong, something missing. I had no idea what was going on, one day I was good the next day I was struggling to make time cap. I went home, did some research and all the physios told me my glutes don’t work, or you’re tight somewhere, just stretch and you will fix it.
So I did that for another 2-3 months, I stopped racing to try and fix it, it never got better. Went in got some MRIs, X-rays, got some scans and my lowest vertebra in my spine had worn down, so it was like 60% of what it should be. That’s what was causing the issue of power on the bike. Every time I rode, because I was so tilted over and my hips were going side to side, it was rubbing on that vertebra and my family has a predisposition to arthritis.
In retrospect, we could look back and there was a crash I had in a race in 2015, in China, second stage of a 12 day tour, which twisted me up. I then spent the rest of the race developing motor patterns that weren’t healthy, since I was unaware, I kept racing. I contained this process for another year or so and the condition counted to get worse and worse.
I got to the point where I couldn’t train properly everyday, couldn’t race properly, and from someone who was so used to doing it at 100%, I just couldn’t do it.
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Happy birthday to this legend! From endless hours training through the Gold Coast, to adventuring around Belgium, this man has always had my back and I wouldn’t have anyone else as a best man! Hope you have a ripper 25th mate! Repost @jpk21 • • • Adventure reco rides in Maastricht! With the man! @brendanhill1 #Countryhopping #multinationalreco #Maastricht
Q. Did big professional cycling teams show an interest in your talent/skills?
So BMC was probably the biggest, at the time they were a would tour team, I road for a year in their development team in Belgium.
I had a few contacts with some French world tour teams, but it was nothing that ever eventuated. After the 2014 season there was a lot of talk with the European teams, it was just finding a good one.
Q. I understand you were apart of the same team as Cadel Evans?
Yeah so that was BMC. He was in the world tour team and I was in the development team. The year I started in the development team was also the team he retired.
That year he did three races and I got to meet him a couple times.
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Q. Before the accident, do you have your heart set on being a professional cyclist?
That was the dream. I think every athlete can’t do it at that level or intensity without hoping one day you would do that. But I was lucky that my parents pushed me to have a plan B, so when everything went bad I finished off my degree and went on from there.
Q. Have you been on a bike since giving up being a professional cyclist?
I think I have done one ride in the past year and a half. I think for me it was a bit raw to start with and you get the point where its like; what if I get on the bike and am acutely aware of how unfit I got.
After Jesse had decided to give up being a professional cyclist, he put his head down and completed his Sport Management degree here at the University of Canberra and secured a job at the Australian Institute of Sport. It is clear that Jesse is not going to let this injury define who he is. He has had to shift his career focus but is more passionate and enthusiastic than ever. At age 25 he has achieved and seen more than many people will in their lives.