A Year Later

gravel smile race

What a difference a year can make. It was this time last year when I started falling down the stairs, unexpectedly, intermittently. At first it was subtle – I’d miss a step and plop down on my butt.No big deal, I thought, just ignore it. Then I did a 100+ mile gravel race and had lost sensation in my legs repeatedly … I thought to myself that I could maybe live without biking so much, and maybe there’s a compromise here. Next, I found myself on a ride descending a paved road with intermittent cracks on one of my comfier gravel bikes. Every bump was excruciating, and by the time I reached the bottom tears were streaming down my face from pain. Falling down the stairs was also becoming normal.

Fast forward to June, when I had lumbar spinal fusion. This was the operation that was supposed to fix everything and make me “whole” again. Recovery was brutal and the pain was the worst I’ve endured yet. I clawed my way back to mobility and cycling one step and pedal stroke at a time.

Imagine my frustration when come early 2018 I was still dealing with increasing numbness and shooting pains in my lower left leg. After going through so much, I discovered I needed calf surgery to release a trapped artery – my muscles were choking bloodflow to my left calf and causing the cramps. It was devastating to learn I needed ANOTHER surgery and endure another setback.

Tonight, I rode gravel, outside, in the cold for 90 minutes. I rode over bumps and lumps and didn’t cry. I got out of the saddle on a climb and my leg didn’t cramp and go numb. I’m frustrated at my lack of fitness and also so proud of how far I’ve come and what I’ve endured.

Just when I think I’ve hit some insurmountable roadblock, I find a way to persist, and if I can, maybe you can too. Progress is perfection.

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