Return: Ben Henderson is making a comeback after being struck down with a chikungunya virus and taking to two years to recover. Photo: Jay Cronan
Fifty mosquito bites ruined mountain biker Ben Henderson's Olympic Games dream and kept him in bed for almost two years.
But after recovering from the obscure chikungunya virus, Henderson is ready to get back on his bike and launch a bid to join sister Rebecca at the Olympics in 2016.
Henderson will make his endurance riding comeback next weekend in the 50-kilometre event in the Southern Highlands.
It will be an emotional comeback from two years spent battling a mystery illness following a race in Malaysia and 50 mosquito bites, made worse by glandular fever, which halted his career.
Chikungunya virus is an infection similar to dengue fever, resulting in fever, joint pain and headaches.
But instead of recovering after a week, it took Henderson two years to feel like he was ready to get back on his bike.
"It was pretty scary, but I'm back to 100 per cent and I'm just starting to train again," Henderson said.
"I got stuck in the jungle [in Malaysia] on the first stage of a race ... I wanted to qualify for the Olympics [in 2012] but I got sick and I basically didn't get out of bed for two months straight.
"It's been like that for almost two years now ... I felt like crap. I felt weak, I couldn't read a book for almost a year because I couldn't concentrate. But I guess it was a learning curve."
Rebecca Henderson and partner Dan McConnell made their Olympic debut in the cross country event in London two years ago.
Ben Henderson, a former Australian series No.1 rider, was on track to challenge McConnell for the spot in the men's race before he was hit by the virus.
Instead, he was left trying to figure out why he was sick and depressed.
"There's no antidote or cure, the only way you can get better is rest," Ben Henderson said.
"I started doing social rides a couple of months ago, but I'm starting to feel normal again. I have to lower my expectations a bit to start with, I can't expect to do what I used to do.
"I haven't set any goal races yet because I did that for two years and it's deflating when you don't compete in them.
"But I'd like to do some mountain bike world cups sooner rather than later and set my sights on the Olympics."
Henderson will miss the Capital Punishment event in Canberra on Saturday, biding his time as a sponsor while 1500 riders compete in the gruelling race.
Riders will race on 100-kilometre or 50-kilometre courses through Kowen Forest, Black Mountain and Stromlo Forest Park.
Capital Punishment is the first race in the inaugural Maverick Marathon series which joins four of Australia's premier mountain bike marathons.