“What a difference a year makes” is one of those ubiquitous sayings perhaps devalued by its widespread use.
However, in the case of Dorset motorcycling prodigy Brad Jones, that difference is literally a knife between life and death.
Rewind 12 months and Jones, now 24, was at the top of his game having competed in British Superbikes – the pinnacle of the sport in this country.
Grappling with the rising standard, Jones was showing promising signs of being able to cope with Britain’s top tier by the time the Championship reached Brands Hatch.
Little did he know, his life was about to change on the opening lap of race one as he ‘flew’ off the Clark Curve exit and crashed into the barriers at high speed. speed.
Jones was unconscious and airlifted to hospital with a catalog of serious injuries, then placed in an induced coma.
The main ones were bleeding in the brain, a broken pelvis, broken ribs and perforations in both lungs.
His pelvis required surgery and it took several weeks before he was awakened from a coma and able to converse with his family, who were constantly by his bedside.
Jones is remarkably optimistic as he begins to tick the final boxes on the road to an astonishing full recovery.
“It’s been a hectic 12 months, I would say,” Jones told Echosport in typically humorous fashion.
“It was difficult but very rewarding at the same time. Where I am now is that physically everything is really good.
“I’ve replaced race bikes with race bikes for now and I’m really enjoying that. It really improved my physical condition and brought my lungs back to where they were before.
“In cycling, I’m stronger than I was. The thing I’ve struggled a lot with is short term memory, but it’s improved a lot over the past six weeks.
“Every week I’m making improvements, whether it’s memory, mood, anxiety, stress. We’re moving forward all the time and I still do physio once a month. I can’t complain.
Naturally, Jones has no memory of the crash – or either side of it.
“The points that are clear are probably from November,” he admitted.
“Before that, it’s very vague. My superbike memories are vague, so my memories of the accident are non-existent.
“Memories of me that weekend are very, very vague. I don’t really remember being there. The only way to do that is to see the pictures I took on my phone, browsing the track the day before.
“Unfortunately my superbike memories are very hazy. I guess your brain is a trauma blocker so I don’t remember the accident at all.
“I remember being in the hospital, but I couldn’t tell you what I was doing. I guess it also depends on how much medicine I was taking!
“That being said, I never felt any pain, which is a good thing.
“Maybe a little uncomfortable with my shoulder and pelvis, but other than that I haven’t really felt what I would call excruciating pain. On that side I’ve had a lot luck. ”
The nature of Jones’ accident has rocked the paddock and the British Superbike community, with the fundraiser raising around £40,000 and the hashtag #KeepFightingBrad being shared on social media.
Jones still enjoys strong support from British Superbikes and was seen last weekend at Donington Park amongst the entourage of friend and World Supersport rider Patrick Hobelsberger.
World Supersport is part of the World Superbikes undercard, which his close friend Scott Redding rides.
Jones maintained his enthusiasm for the sport simply by visiting race weekends often.
His presence watching from the paddock is part of his new normal, including a full-time role with the family plumbing and heating business.
“I went back on a return trip organized by the hospital after a few months at home,” he said.
“I went back full time in January, February. When I raced I worked part-time, so I haven’t worked full-time for a few years!
“At the beginning, it was hard, very tiring. Then I got my driver’s license back and everything feels normal again, I’m just getting my confidence back.
“I doubted myself a lot if I had remembered to do things. Everything is better now.
And any doubts Jones has about his ability to return to racing will be answered later this month when he cruises the track for the first time since the crash.
“I’ll be back on a bike and I’ll probably have to cycle again after this,” he revealed.
“I will probably ride a few times and then I will have to make a decision if I make a comeback or not.
“If I were to have two seasons without racing, it’s kind of done. You can’t really take two years out of this sport and then come back to it. One year is hard enough, let alone two.
“A return to racing depends mainly on how I feel on the bike when I ride again.”
With the warrior strength Jones has shown to recover from his injuries, who would bet against the man from Stalbridge to successfully reclaim his motorcycling career as well?