ASPEN, Colorado (VN) — Twelve weeks after a horrible accident at the U.S. national road championship that broke his leg and severed his patella tendon, Taylor Phinney is back in BMC Racing kit, riding with his teammates, at the USA Pro Challenge.

Though he’s far from being race fit, Phinney joined his BMC teammates in Aspen for a training ride on Sunday, and was in his BMC team kit outside the team bus before Monday’s stage start. He’s been back on the bike for several weeks, though he admitted that he’s probably riding much harder than he should be.

“I’m just here for moral support, man,” Phinney smiled. “I’m here for the laughs, to bring the mood up. I think the guys like having me around, and I like being around them. I got to ride with them yesterday. I rode way too hard, but sometimes the pain is worth it. I did a lap [of the stage 1 circuit], but I held on to the car most of the time. When we were rolling out of the parking lot, I attacked, downhill, but then I was quickly swept up.”

“You don’t really realize how much fitness you lose. I haven’t really trained in three months. You just think that you have all this natural talent, and then you go out riding with these guys, who are at peak fitness, and you’re like, ‘Did I used to be that fast? I don’t remember being that fast.’ It was pretty special for me. It was something I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I really wish I was racing… but I try not to think about that. The stage in Boulder starts right in front of my apartment, so I’m excited about that.”