BMC rider Taylor Phinney discusses why he took up flying and painting to keep him occupied while recovering from a horrific leg injury

The cycling world appeared to be at Taylor Phinney’s feet as one of the crop of exciting young talent coming out of the USA. But a crash at last year’s national championships has forced him to put his career on hold.

Phinney crashed into a guard rail while descending at high speed down Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, after trying to avoid a motorcycle marshall, breaking his leg so badly it had the potential to end his career.

But the 24-year-old, who finished second in both the road race and time trial at the UCI World Championships in 2012, is determined to return from the injury that has kept him out of competition for over a year.

>>> Taylor Phinney set to miss classics season as injury recovery continues

And speaking to Mens Journal, the BMC rider explained his tips on how to deal with a serious injury.

“At first I was really focused on getting back to racing and I was keeping track of how everyone was doing,” Phinney said. “But I really felt like I was missing out. So I completely alienated myself from the racing world and tried to find something to fill my time.”

Phinney insists he didn’t wallow in self pity, instead joining a flight school and learning how to paint to fill up his now plentiful spare time.

“I chose flight school because I needed that adrenaline that cycling always gave me,” he added.

>>> Taylor Phinney reveals extent of surgery scars after US Pro Champs crash

And while his fitness levels were depleting at the start of his recovery phase, Phinney says now he’s able to notice even the most marginal improvements in his recovery.

It’s amazing to realize how much you can lose,” said Phinney about his fitness level. “But I’m really trying to focus on enjoying the process. There’s something really gratifying about seeing gains on an almost daily basis, even if they’re small.”