A mountain bike accident in 2018 left her in a wheelchair. However, the desire to feel adrenaline again overcame physical limitations and Michi Benthaus discovered a new passion in karting …
Although she isn’t a racing driver, Michi Benthaus’s story of self-improvement deserves to be told. 09/30/2018 could have been the end of her relationship with speed and adrenaline, but it wasn’t… She discovered in the world of karting a new way of feeling what she thought she would never feel again after her bicycle accident. While practicing this and other sports, she works in a mechatronics company, studies Aerospace Engineering and, above all, continues the pursuit of her greatest dream: to fly to the moon. Enjoy part of her story in this note that, personally, really touched me while producing it.
Michi’s passion for movement and adrenaline started several years ago, even long before her beginnings on two wheels. “I think I started going to the bikepark in 2016 and I fell at the end of my third downhill season (2018), so everything happened quite quickly. Before 2016, I was only riding a little normal Mountain Bike, not downhill / endure. Oh, and before that, I did seven years of parkour, you know? Jumping around town”, Benthaus begins.
Those who are lovers of vertigo surely feel identified with the perceptions of the German when it comes to “pedaling”. “I think there were a lot of things that made the bike so special to me. Above all I liked jumping: flying through the air is a very special sensation, which challenged me to my limits. You need to be focused all the time. I think this is quite similar in downhill cycling and karting, but sometimes I find myself dreaming while driving a kart (laughs)… Of course I also loved the adrenaline rush. Well, aside from that, the bike community is just great”, she explains.
Everything was going well for Michi, until that September 30 arrived, in which her life took a 180 ° turn. “The story of my fall is not so easy to explain in a few sentences. The short version is that I jumped too much and landed on the ground, because I was relying on the “speedcheck” (a little jump, mostly down, which should give you adequate speed for the rest of the jump line) before jump, but it was too fast. I remember when I was in the middle of the jump, I realized that I was going too fast, that I would jump too far and that something bad would happen. After that, there are a few minutes that I forgot. The next step I remember is that I was lying on the floor without any sensation in my legs. I was so desperate and I just wanted to die…”, says the future space engineer.
On her blog ( http://michi-benthaus.com/mein-unfall/ ), she recounts the entire day with heartbreaking detail. Just a fragment: “I fainted. Fortunately only for a short time, but when I regained consciousness, many people from the mountain rescue were standing around me. Immediately someone came and put a ruff on me. I panicked when I saw this and immediately realized that I could no longer move my legs… I screamed that I did not want a life like this… The feeling was indescribable. I think that if there is a moment of pure despair, which was it… They laid me on a stretcher and took me to the ambulance… I asked all the people I saw in German and English when I could move my legs again, but no one answered me. I was completely alone. They just told me a helicopter was coming from Straubing. After that, I had no choice but to wait. It felt like an eternity”. Words are unnecessary…
What came next wasn’t easy either: coming to terms with their condition, saying goodbye to the cycling days, and focusing on moving on. “In total, I spent eight months in a hospital and a rehab center and sometimes there were very, very difficult moments. But even at the hospital I met some great people and had a lot of fun. The most important thing was that my family and friends stayed by my side all the time. I don’t know what I would have done without them”. The family, the pillar of everything, always.
Give up sports? No, that wasn´t among the possibilities…. “When I was in the hospital I was completely heartbroken, because the next bike season was just around the corner and I didn’t want to sit home sad while my friends were in the parks. So I was thinking about what was still possible for me, and karting was on my mind. I think that I had made two turns in a rental kart before, so I wasn´t sure if it was something I really liked to do”, says Benthaus about her final arrival in the motor world.
And what about the people who came into her life thanks to the new hobby? “Karting people are not responsible for my continuing to practice adrenaline-fueled sports, but they are helping me a lot to do it. Without them, karting would not be possible for me. I always liked sports like this and always will. The wheelchair didn´t change that. My stall is high, something between TH6 and TH8, so I know I will need help. I’m studying Aerospace Engineering, but that’s completely theoretical, so I can’t fix the kart on my own (laughs)”.
So … How was her arrival to the karting world? “In Germany, maybe 15 years ago, there was a Formula H (handicap). I spoke to someone who was there and they gave me the phone numbers of other wheelchair users who also raced Formula H, but they aren´t in karting anymore. So I decided to give it one last chance and wrote to a guy on Facebook (laughs). He was kind enough: I explained my situation to him and he said he would help me. He introduced me to a man who has a garage in Ampfing and this guy helps me a lot now. Since then, I have been meeting other people who also practice karting and who are helping me. Without them, it wouldn´t be possible for me”.
A few months ago, Michi showed another great personal moment on the networks: getting into karting without any help. “Doing that was a big step to be a little more independent (but for everything else I still need a lot of help). The next thing is to go out on my own, but my karting season is over. My engine has some difficulties and I might buy an X30 instead of a Rotax during the winter”. Meanwhile… “I have passed the passing test and am now an Aerospace Engineering student. That is something that makes me very happy, because working in a space program is the only thing I wanted to do before my accident and that I can still do. So it’s a bit of old Michi (laughs)”. And her dream is…? “My dream is to fly to the Moon, in space it doesn’t matter if I can walk or not”.
However, competing is not yet in Michi’s plans. “I would love to. I’m still pretty bad at karting and I don’t have enough time to train that much, but I hope I can be good enough for racing one day. My priorities for now are Aerospace Engineering and working on a space program, so I will spend a lot of time making this dream come true. Karting would be a hobby for me, a pretty enjoyable one. I like very much!”. And besides that? “Now I’m doing some basketball, tennis and swimming. And, of course, meeting friends”, concludes the girl from Munich, the protagonist of this new special note by Mujeres Fierreras. Tomorrow, wait for it……………. The Spanish version.