What does the future look like now? Are you back up to full health yet?
I had to go and have another operation as my leg wasn't healing when they took the cage off. Every time I put a sock on you could see my shin bending, it was really weird. So they had to put a nail all the way through the shin from the knee to the ankle, through the middle and bolt it all in. Since then I've been able to start walking again. I managed to get back on a bike in January, I was really determined to get back on a bike. It's still slightly broken, it's still taking a lot of time for the shin to heal.
There's not a full recovery yet, but it's heading the right way. I reckon by August I'll be almost back to 80% health. I've got a motorcycle tour in Africa with a bunch of riders and some big projects with Triumph and the books coming out, so there's lots going on, so fingers crossed. But things just change in a heartbeat for some many people and there are people who have it much worse than me. Broken legs compared to some people's problems are small!
There are some huge moments in life, and if it wasn't for my friends ruthlessly taking the piss out of me all the time I would never have survived. Every time I try to mention my leg, they say "Fucking hell Charley, not again you always try to bring you leg into the conversation."
Such an attention seeker!
Yeah such an attention seeker! (laughs)
Portugal wasn't the first time you'd fucked yourself up pretty badly on a bike. The Dakar Rally was clearly another significant event. Can you tell us about Dakar?
Yeah the Dakar Rally, one of the toughest races in the world, one of the most dangerous races too. Especially on motorbikes! An incredible event over 16 days. A huge challenge, and I'd spent a year and a half preparing for it and getting the TV show together. The bummer part of it all was I was actually riding well, I was about 80th out of around 220 riders. I then just made a silly mistake, I came into an old river bed, with quite a steep entrance. I just clipped a rock under some sand, and went down heavy. I was only doing about 15-20kmph and I broke my hands. I was lying there stuck under the bike, I couldn't push the bike off me, and I was on the piste and all the bikes, cars and trucks come at the same time.
The trucks come through at a fair old whack and I was thinking the next vehicle could be a car or a truck and they just wont see me and I'm right on the racing line. Luckily the bike that came up after me, saw me and left his bike at the top of the river bed to warn others and then came down and helped me. I got back on the bike, but my hands hurt quite a lot and I could tell there was something not right with my right hand. When I finally got back on the bike and started riding a bit, I noticed that my left thumb was flopping around and thought 'shit that's not good'! I had to bang it back into place because it was just flopping around. I thought I would just get to the end of the day and there's loads of doctors and nurses to help. I thought I could just get back and they would give me an injection or something and I would be able to crack on again. I was so wrong!
You did well to ride out at all!
Yeah I did well or was just stupid because they were like balloons by the time I got to the end of the day. I remember the French Doctor saying (insert french accent) "Charley, your hand is broken and the Dakar is finished, and I'm not even sure if you're going to be able to wipe your own arse!" (laughs) Oh god, moments in life! They are all quite funny when you look back, but at the time they were just horrific! You really do think in the despair of the moment.
I guess you're going to be a bit of a red flag to sponsors when they do a risk assessment on you.
(Laughs) Yeah I dread to think what my insurance will be like.
Let's hope they don't read the book!
Long Way Back is out now.
Keep an eye out for Part 2 in the next issue