I dreamed about this day since my accident happened over 3 years ago.
These last 3 years have propelled me on a journey of profound long inner voyage of discovery, exploration, realization and much growth.
The brilliant and outstanding people that have showed up in my life and offered support, love and guidance have been the pivotal factor in helping me be where I’m today. As much as this has to do with a solo, dark/light infinite expedition of life, it is also an infinite kaleidoscope of humanity and friendship like no other.
I stand here speechless and overwhelmed by gratitude and appreciation.
And now it is time to shift gears (ha ha) and take time to explore the outdoors.
Mother Nature has always embraced me and provided infinite space for exploration, discovery and new found experiences. I have longed to get out there again and play and the time has arrived!
I have already indulged myself in hiking, skiing, riding my off road motorcycle (for those who are interested, details about setup and adjustments below) and many other activities will be explored soon.
I will post a separate blog entry about my skiing experience, let’s just say that I used the word WOW over a gazillion times in 2.5 hours and it’s far from describing how I felt while skiing…
My wonderful physiotherapist, Linda McLaren insisted I get the bike inside GF Strong where we worked on trouble shooting, alignments and exercises I should perform on the bike to strengthen my wobbly legs. When was the last time you brought your bike for a session with your physiotherapist? Many thanks Linda - you are amazing! Because of
you I can do this!
First ride impressions:
So I loaded the bike and headed to Squamish to try and ride the beast for the first time.
I had no idea what to expect. Only thing that was clear was my huge smile on my face while I drove to my destination looking in the mirror and see the bike at the back – here I am going out for a ride again. Filled with anticipation, shaky knees and a big question mark which hovered over my head I unloaded the bike and begun the laborious process of wearing all my gear.
Not knowing what to do I just wore everything: knee guards, full body armor, elbow guards, riding boots on both feet! I was so happy to discover I can actually squeeze my prosthesis inside the boot…
I felt like the marshmallow man while trying to climb the machine, tried one side – no go, the other one – slightly better. Ok now I’m on board. Press the starter button and… 2-3 tries and the battery died…
Luckily this bike has a kick-starter, nice right? Wrong, I couldn't bend my knee to clear the kick and actually push on it… ok by now I’m sweating, frustrated and this whole thing doesn’t look very nice.
I rolled the bike next to a large boulder, stood on it while I balance the bike and tried to kick it alive. Boy if you were there you would have laughed so hard – it was amusing.
After several acrobatic kicks it fired up – wow! Now I can try it out.
I decided to stay on forestry roads and just see how it goes.
Within 20 minutes I turned around, got back to my car, loaded the bike got out of my gear and drove home.
Frustrated, sad and overwhelmed I confessed to my beloved Sonja that I should probably give up my dream of riding off road, I should sell the bike, get a touring bike at best, stay on paved roads and call it a day.
I couldn’t stand on the bike, couldn’t control it properly let alone move from a sitting position to standing up, it felt cumbersome, not safe, and awkward. Basically – terrible.and this was on open gravel roads. I couldn't imagine myself riding over technical terrain.
That night I couldn’t sleep. I turned from one side to the other, restless. If I was to give up my dream it should be a better reason than this!
Some may say why would you risk it? you survived a near fatal accident, had to go through multiple operations, chop off your leg and now you are doing so well - why take a chance?
Well here is my answer:
We all have dreams and things we want to experience and at the same time we all have really good, better yet, great, excuses why we can't pursue them (or the famous one: it's not the right time...).
We have to take care of our family, earn money, family, home, work and social obligations abound - really good reasons right?
Well, it does take tremendous effort to go after your dreams. It's hard, difficult, frustrating and can be expensive so because of that so many of us don't do it.
I think I have pretty good excuses, sorry, reasons, why I should take it easy right...
Wrong! if there's one major lesson I have learned is that if you have a burning desire, a yearning ablaze in your heart to pursue something that may make no real sense but it is there, nothing can take it away (not even a head on collision with a fully loaded semi-truck) then you should go for it!!!
Life is meant for living. We don't really know if we have a second chance or not, if we come back or go somewhere else... so my take on it is - go for it! whatever it is, NOW is the right time
OK, enough of that...
The next day I loaded up the bike and headed back to the trails. This time I had a running shoe on my prosthesis, a small knee pad and that’s it. This setup provided me with maximum range of motion and I quickly found that I can stand up and shift my weight from side to side.
After 15 minutes on open gravel roads I found the trail head for a single endure track, hmm… if I was to face my fears and found out if I can ride this type of terrain again now is a good a time as any!
And in I went, tight narrow, muddy, rocky and filled with tree roots the trial pushed me to my limit. If I was to call it game over for this type of riding this will be the place.
After dropping the bike numerous times I decided to take a rest and relax. I recomposed and started again this time breathing…
To make a short story long… I ended up riding 3 hours that day!
Since then I went out riding 6 times only to realize that my poor riding technique combined with a prosthesis and no ergonomic adjustments to the bike is very challenging.
And the journey begins to find ways to properly adjust the bike and my leg so they can work together and second to really work hard on my riding skills. They say you spend 25% more energy for just walking with a below knee prosthesis but it felt to me more like 1000% riding the bike.
There were times I forgot about my leg all together, the concentration required and the challenges you have to ride over transported me to a different place where there was no room for other issues to interfere – this was magic! Those of you who share the love of sports and outdoor challenges know what I’m talking about. You’re in the “Zone”, in the moment where everything just flows, it’s so hard to describe in words – you have to get out there and experience it for yourself.
Grateful to experience it again.
Your ever well wisher
My bike Carrier
Made by add a bike - brilliant design
Back doing what I love - mechanics and tinkering around