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Justin Williams took to Instagram to announce his decision to skip the defense of his national title in Belize last weekend. The L39ion of Los Angeles founder crashed in a local combined category race in California in March.
Leading out his brother Corey for the finish, Justin suffered an AC joint separation that required surgery to repair. The 11-time national champion had hoped to return to Belize to defend his most recent road national title but instead was forced to take a step back to allow his recovery to continue.
Williams spoke to The Adventure Stache podcast in April, a week after his surgery, and described how difficult the recovery was going. He was expected to be in a sling for five weeks post-op.
“It’s hard, I knew that this would be painful. I’ve had an AC joint separation in my other shoulder before so I knew what the journey was going to be like. But, once you’re in it, it sucks so bad … mentally not riding is like torture. It’s alright; you have to be reasonable with yourself. The mental health of things aren’t taken into consideration as much,” he said.
Fast forward a month and he was back on the bike, training and hoping to return in time for Belize nationals at the end of June. He made his return at the Crystal Cup race at Armed Forces Cycling Classic. He would pull out halfway into the race, sharing doubts with VeloNews, describing how his recovery had been expected to last three months and that it had only been six weeks before that Saturday in Arlington.
He would return at Tulsa Tough a week later, helping his team finish 1-2 with Ty Magner taking the win, and his brother, Corey in second. Following the Harlem Cycling Classic, the Belize road nationals had been Williams’ primary goal coming back from recovery.
Williams had dual citizenship most of his life in Belize and the United States.
His parents were born in the country and immigrated to the US in their 20s. The family has had strong ties to their home country, supporting the cycling community there for years, sending clothing and other items. Last season, he chose to change his national affiliation in cycling from the US to Belize, looking to provide more opportunities for aspiring competitive cyclists in the region.
“At this point in my career I have my own team and infrastructure where I can really help these dudes,” Williams said in the podcast.
“I’m making enough cash now to carve out a budget to help people from my home country come to America to do some racing, so they have something to look forward to. It was a hard decision, but I feel an immense amount of pride for the opportunities I get to give to the people of my home country.”
Williams continues to recover, with his remaining 2022 racing calendar uncertain. His team, L39ion of LA, is expected to race the next stop in the American Criterium Cup, the Boise Twilight on July 9.