Motorcycle racer has surgery in Vail |

Motorcycle racer has surgery in Vail

Special to the Vail Daily

VAIL – Most Vail knee surgery patients hope to heal quickly. Melissa Paris wants to heal to go quickly.

Paris, 27, is the only woman racing in this season’s American Motorcyclist Association’s “Daytona Sportbike” class, riding a 600cc Yamaha. After a nasty crash last August she had a titanium rod put into one leg, but never felt quite right.

Limping through this season, she was referred to the Steadman Clinic in Vail, where Dr. Peter Millett performed surgery this week.

“It was lots easier than I thought it would be,” she said. “It hasn’t been bad.

“I got a really good vibe from Dr. Millett,” she added. “He answered all my questions.”

While Millett sees the knees of plenty of athletes, he said injuries like Paris’ tend to be more severe than, say, a ski racer.

“Typically there’s a lot more trauma because the forces are so much greater because of the speed,” Millett said.

And both doctor and patient said it was a tough decision to have surgery now, in the middle of the season.

“We’re doing everything we can to get her ready for her next race (in mid-July),” Millett said.

While she just had surgery Thursday, Paris Friday said she’d already been through a physical therapy session at the Howard Head Sports Medicine Center in Vail, and was expecting to have another session that afternoon.

“I’ll do two-a-days for a few days and then we’ll go home and keep working,” she said.

Unlike a lot of racers, Paris came late to the sport. She didn’t get on a motorcycle at all until she was 19 and a student at San Diego State University. Once she started, though, it wasn’t long before she attended her first track day.

“Some friends took me because I was getting into a little trouble on the street,” she said.

Once at the track, she quickly started racing, earning her expert’s license in 2005. Since then, she’s moved up in classes, and has always raced against men.

“I just found out she’s the only woman in an all-men’s field,” Millett said. “That’s pretty impressive.”

And Paris can’t wait to get back on the track. She knows her mid-July target is cutting things close, but said she’s confident she can get back soon.

“I’ll be able to get training on a mountain bike pretty soon,” she said. “But I want to get back on the bike.”

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