Blenki & Bulldog
The long‐time mates are making the most of an off‐season at home as Brook continues his recovery
Words and Images Findley Watt
Before Covid‐19 swept across the world, if you had said I’d be taking photos on Brook MacDonald and Sam Blenkinsop, In Christchurch (or in the Southern Hemisphere for that matter) in June, I would have laughed in your face!
The current world situation brings interesting times to the sport. With international racing soon to start up again, athletes have had an extended off‐season, with those here down under no doubt feeling the cold mornings they’ve been avoiding for years.
It’s been 12 years since Brook spent a winter back home, and 15 years for Sam. They’re two veterans of the World Cup DH Circuit, with Sam going pro in 2006 and Brook following suit 3 years later, signing with Trek Factory Racing in 09.
The pair of pinners have spent the majority of their lives together, growing up together in the early 2000’s, racing and sharing podiums together, creating memories for over a decade! Something like that creates an inseparable bond, that with the highs and lows of racing still prevails and only further cements the friendship and deep respect they have for each other as people.
Now if we wind the clock back to 31st of August last year – the news that no one wanted to hear ‐ Brook had a huge crash resulting in a serious spinal injury. Brook had fractured his T12 and L1 vertebrae. Due to the severeness of his injuries, he needed urgent medical assistance, but it took five agonising hours for a helicopter to arrive on the scene and over an hour before he received any pain relief. Considering this was a major international event organised by the UCI, Brook said the lack of care was beyond belief.
Astonishingly, through pure grit, hard work and perseverance, Brook managed to walk unassisted for the first time 40 days after the crash and even managed to ride a bike for the first time 2 weeks later. By January he was out trail riding again, hitting jumps and finding balance for manuals ‐ and it’s been a tough road to get here, but fast forward a few more months and I got to witness to the incredible speed and hard‐charging riding Brook has regained. It’s so cool for him to be riding and hanging out with his good buddy, pressing pause on the craziness that gripped the world over for the last six months and affected all of us in some way or another.