The news that American downhill and 4X racer Tara Llanes had what appears to be a career ending accident while racing 4X at the recent Jeep King of Mountain event in Vail, Colorado filtered through about a week ago and shocked all who heard it. Tara is currently paralysed from the waist down. While the situation is still in flux, the prospects are not bright.
I have been good friends with Tara for ten years and I'm not kidding when I say that Tara is the nicest, kindest and most caring person you could wish to meet, on top of that she is an exceptional racer who has a passion for cycling and in particular mountain biking that burns white hot. The thought that we'll not see her riding again is tough to take.
I called the hospital where she is undergoing surgery and other procedures and spoke to here, this is what she had to say:
"I've had a really tough week, but it's not until something like this happens you understand what friends and family are for and how much love there is for you. I really appreciate the call, just hearing friendly voices full of encouragement is a big deal for me right now. My mom and coach have been awesome and several other athletes (US SX racer Ernesto Fonseca was one) who have been through serious physical trauma have been in touch and the knowledge and hope they have given me is fantastic.
"I really can't tell you how much I missed not being at the Worlds in Fort William, despite the bad weather, nothing means more to me than being a racer among friends. I'm going to be here (in Denver Hospital) for 6 or 7 more weeks before I go to the same physical rehab unit as Stephen Murray. I'm going to fight this all the way."
Tara is a tough nut, but support means everything. If you want to send Tara a message post it to Tara Llanes, C/o Denver Health Medical Centre 777 bannock St, Room A224 Denver Colorado 80204