Cotter's long road to recovery: 'social media gives me new energy every day'

“This is the latest tree planting on my farm, an Austrian Pine. I selected and planted this tree to celebrate the incredible story of Imogen Cotter (…) After four months of surgeries and excruciating physio, she is back in the saddle (…) Her recovery has always been about when not if. Her profound gratitude for being alive is evident in her daily appreciation for life’s simple pleasures – coffee, cake, crochet, a quiet café, roadside wildflowers, and delight in discovery. This sturdy pine celebrates Imogen’s growth, grace, strength, and forever green future”.

“This is one of the most special messages I received during my recovery process,” Imogen Cotter says, as she points to her phone on the terrace of Café Carlemany in Girona. On her screen appears an Instagram post from Paul Carney, a hobby farmer from Minnesota. “A lot of people send me powerful support messages, but I find planting a tree quite extraordinary”.

Interaction on social media

Cotter was out for a regular afternoon spin on January 26 when disaster struck. A car, which was overtaking another cyclist on the Catalan roads, drove head-on straight into the 28-year-old. Cotter broke her radius, and fractured her patella. Ultimately, a long road to recovery started. A journey that Cotter made publicly followable, as she reported about every baby step and giant leap on her Instagram.

Being active on different social media platforms also kept the Girona-based cyclist connected to the cycling scene. “Being injured made me feel in the beginning like I was not part of the community anymore. When I could start to think about riding on the turbo trainer again, I hosted events and group rides on Zwift. That way I could interact with other cyclists, and chat and ride with them. Zwift has been so important to me in that sense. The platform allowed me to feel a cyclist again”.

First race day again

Last weekend marked another big moment in the Irish cyclist’s recovery process: she raced for the first time since her big accident at the beginning of this year and 11 months after her last race – the day she won the Irish national championships.

“My own personal goal was to enjoy it”, she says, “and to remember why I worked so hard and suffered through all the hours of physio pain and the monotonous exercises and stretches day in, day out, and also to set a new bar for my comeback. And I did really enjoy it!”

Cotter is looking forward to some hillier races later this season, but found competing in Belgium last weekend already a big victory. “I might have been sitting at the back of the peloton for most of it, but the most important thing is: I am back racing.”

Read the full story about Imogen Cotter in Nafent Magazine vol. 3, now available in our webshop.

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