My name is Brian Astell, I’m 36 years old and I’m a professional mountain-bike racer, off-road triathlete and cyclecross racer. I’ve been racing professionally for nearly a decade and a half and racing total for nearly 2 decades. I have been fortunate enough to race on the regional, national and world level.
I’m a fitness and nutrition coach and a mountain-bike skills instructor. I decided to take all the things I love and start a business called TrailWorks. In a sentence, what I do is teach athletes to ride virtually anything by pairing riding technique with efficient fitness training. For my venture I sought out new and old sponsors to help jumpstart and enhance my rider’s experience.
I had personally used BodyHealth’s PerfectAmino for about a year and a half before I decided it was a product I did not want to train without. It had become my recovery weapon of choice. I wrote to them firing off my out-of-the-box proposal.
The gist was: I would be on-the-road following the California Enduro Series for the 2017 season (most popular and quickest growing mountain bike race series in the Golden State); guiding rides and helping with line selection and riding technique before every race; and racing, myself. When I wasn’t doing that I was putting on skills clinics throughout California and destination camps throughout the U.S.
To top it off, I sent in a video to American Ninja Warrior and, lo’ and behold, I got selected to be on the show. I hadn’t ever really trained for that type of thing but the fitness I had was enough to be able to make it through the obstacles.
Getting this business going entailed a bit of investment. A van to live out of for the season, some new gear, van wrap and logos, and a full van build—built by me and a friend, because having a company do it was waaaay out of my price range for what I needed. So I spent pretty much all of my savings, along with using the heck out of my credit card and moving out of the place I was living in so that I didn’t have to pay rent on top of all the other expenses. It made sense since I wasn’t going to be living there for a solid six-to-eight months.
After spending about two weeks moving out of the old place I was living in, out in the rain by myself up and down a slippery muddy driveway moving refrigerators, ovens, tables, beds and a lot of other crap that I never realized was so heavy I had my unfinished van packed and my storage unit emptied, filled and emptied and then a smaller one filled after selling most of my belongings. I was on my way down south headed to Santa Cruz from Mendocino County. I needed to drop a few things in my van off mid-way down, then go to a video shoot in Marin County and finally to build out my van down in Santa Cruz.
I got it all taken care of, van emptied eight hours more of moving (myself) and organizing, nine hours doing a video shoot and I was headed to Santa Cruz to build my van. I got a call from my friend at about 5:00 pm after the day of moving and organizing. “Hey man, come to the Ninja gym with me, you need to practice’ you’re going to be on the show in three weeks!” I was exhausted, and should have gone with my gut, but I was persuaded.
I headed to the gym with my friend exhausted and not super motivated but not wanting to miss an opportunity to practice. The night started out really bad. Having someone wipe blood off the course four separate times should have convinced me to call it quits. But I decided to hit the warp wall (basically a 14–16 foot quarter pipe that starts to curve back on itself. I ran at it a few times with no luck. I wanted to try out my friend’s shoes to check out the sole compound. They were much grippier but my head still wasn’t in it.I sprinted at the wall and that’s when it happened. I hit the bottom of the wall, heard and felt a pop resonate through my body and I lost all power. I thought I had put my foot thought the wall with how abrupt the power loss was. I looked back and there was no hole in the wall. I stepped down and realized I couldn’t stand. I took a seat, carefully took off my shoe and my suspicion was correct I had torn my Achilles. I taped it in the plantar flex position (toe pointed down) and got helped to the car. I really don’t know a good time to tear your Achilles but I can say, for certain, this wasn’t one of them.