Dropping In On: Charlie Mullins

Charlie MullinsPhoto by Shan Moore

It’s been a long road back to recovery for Charlie Mullins, who first injured his wrists nearly two years ago. The former national enduro and GNCC champion has had multiple surgeries during that period, ultimately having the navicular bone removed in both wrists. Almost six weeks ago, Mullins, at the urging of his father-in-law John Ayers, went to train with renowned motocross guru Aldon Baker, who has experience with the injury having worked with Ryan Villopoto.

Dirt Rider spoke with Mullins on Wednesday to see how he’s progressing.

Q: What made you decide that you wanted to work with Aldon Baker?

A: My father-in-law and I talked to him to see if he was interested in kind of a boot camp program for me. He thought about it and said yes. Mid-September we got down here to Florida. The good thing is that obviously I'm on the same page as [Adam] Cianciarulo as far as me coming back from an injury. So he kind of put us together and we've been training together for probably six weeks now. Ryan Dungey and Jason Anderson just got back into town, so I guess the whole group is here now. It's been good so far, and then I'm going back to do a Sprint enduro then just kind of head home and just kind of keep with the program going.

Q: Obviously, Aldon worked with Villopoto and he had the same wrist injury. Is he doing anything special with you for that wrist injury? Any special type of exercises that maybe he did with Ryan?

A: Yeah, I had the same injury as Ryan so he was kind of familiar with the exercises I needed to do. But when I first got down here he had me meet with his therapist lady and she kind of did a full-body exam on flexibility and seeing where I was lacking and where I could improve as far as stretching and strength. They checked my wrist out and the mobility. He has a physical therapist lady too that is really good and she worked on my wrist. Just kind of doing a smart approach to getting it rehabbed properly and the correct exercises and the amount of time on the bike. Everything's kind of based around my wrist. Without him I was kind of, I wouldn't say lost, but I kind of had the wrong view on how I should rehab my wrist. So getting with him, I think I've made a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

Q: I'm curious what your daily routine is with Aldon. Do you bicycle in the morning? What's your typical day like?

A: A typical day is basically a road bike ride, nothing too crazy just a good cardio; nothing too high intensity. Everything's based around riding. Early road bike, then go out to his facility and do our structured riding, what we're supposed to do kind of with him. There's really no big secret formula, it's just a nice, structured schedule.

Q: How are you feeling on the bike right now? Are you feeling up to speed?

A: Yeah, speed-wise I feel really good. I have good days and bad days as far as my wrist. Like yesterday I rode, I had a pretty good day and the next time I could ride… it's kind of like an achy pain, it's not full-on hurting. It's basically my left wrist just because it's the most stressed, and it's the one that I had surgery on back in the end of May. So that's the wrist I'm kind of dealing with. My right wrist is probably 90%. My range of motion is really good. It really doesn't cause me any issues. It's just kind of getting my left wrist up to speed with the right one. Like I said it's a bit behind on recovery. So it's kind of to be expected where I'm at this stage of recovery. But like I said, I have good days and bad days. But as far as speed I feel like I haven't lost any; it's just working through it, the aches and pain.

Q: How far did they go with the surgeries?

A: Basically both wrists are partially fused. But I had my right wrist partially fused back around Thanksgiving, where I had my left one partially fused I'd say May 25th or around there. So it's still pretty fresh. This time with my right wrist last month I wasn't near where I am now, so I'm kind of ahead of schedule on recovery, so that's good. I should be more than ready by the start of the season. I'm really not too concerned about not being ready or anything like that. It's just taking the smart approach and doing what I need to do and be ready for it.

Q: How difficult and how frustrating has it been for you to sit on the sidelines for a whole year and watch all the racing going on?

A: I'm passed the frustration. I've kind of let it go. It's out of my hands. The only thing I've been trying to do is just focus on myself and getting better and getting back to where I was. That's my goal. But it's definitely different going a whole entire year without even seeing a starting line or anything like that. It's been an adjustment. It'll be almost two years by the time I get 100% back at it. It's a bit of a challenge but I've kind been up for that. I'm in a good place. It is what it is. Nothing I can do about it. So no sense whining or grumbling about it.

Q: Did you keep up with the ISDE?

A: Yeah, they had a good run. I think they had a good shot at winning if Taylor [Roberts] didn't have his injury, and I guess a mechanical for Thad DuVall. But overall Ryan Sipes, hats off to him, he did it. That's pretty impressive. But for me I think it's in Spain next year, which basically I'm not sure the terrain. I would imagine it's dry and rocky and probably similar to how Italy was. Hopefully I can be back up to speed. Whether I get chosen for the team is out of my hands.

Q: What you've learned from Aldon, will that make you change how you train once you get home?

A: Yeah. Basically it's a lifestyle change with Aldon and what I've learned. It's just a good, structured schedule and doing the right exercise at the right time. Eating good, clean food. That's all it really is.