Just over two years after his motorcycle racing career was brought to a very sudden and abrupt conclusion, 11-time race winner Regis Laconi says he has now found a new challenge in road cycling that goes a long way to filling the void his premature retirement left.
Laconi, a former MotoGP rider and WSBK runner-up in 2004, suffered career-ending injuries in a serious accident during the Kyalami round of the 2009 WSBK championship whilst riding for DFX Ducati.
Though the 36-year-old Frenchman, who was left in a coma with two fractured vertebrae by the accident, has made tentative re-appearances since then in a testing capacity, the severity of the accident would eventually force Laconi to call time on his career for fear of disrupting the healed injuries.
Looking back at that stressful period of his life, Laconi admits it was difficult to accept that he would have to retire from the profession he loved.
"I had to stop my career suddenly and if you are not ready to stop - in your mind - it is really, really, really hard,” he said. “It was all that I used to do with my life, bike, bike, bike. All you do is think motorbikes and then from one day to the next day you have to take away the bike and you think, 'Oh, what do I do today?' In the beginning after my crash it was hard for me. I have to say a big thank you to my parents."
Nonetheless, just two down the line, Laconi is beginning to re-establish his competitive spirit, taking up two-wheels fuelled by pedal power, a challenge that has not only seen him overcome his injuries in full, but, he says, has actually improved his physical fitness.
"I have not the ideal physique for the bicycle because I am 175cm and 73kg but I am physically a lot better than before. To go to this level with the bicycle... it was not possible to be like this when I was riding and racing WSBK bikes.
“I have made a big step physically now and compared to before I am never tired, even a 100km cycle ride. Many times I ride in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Recently I did 250km ride in one go once, including a big climb, in 9 hours!"