I bet a lot of you don’t know that 5 years ago I had back to back right foot surgeries (yes, I’m aware my body is a disaster zone). I had survived one surgery in February, only to discover that the tendon didn’t reattach and I had no ability to stand up on my right tippy-toes. The calf wouldn’t flex that way and pull up the heel because it was unattached at a critical point in my foot.
I was completely devastated, wrecked by the thought of another surgery. Living alone with half time custody of my toddler, being helpless to drive him anywhere was just too much to bear. I had just started dating a cyclist from Iowa and I was pretty damn sure my 2nd surgery would destroy us. One night while we were talking on the phone, he mused — you know, paraplegics can still ride. They have those special bikes — why don’t you get one of those for your surgery? I brushed off the idea and said it was insanity, these chicken arms couldn’t propel me anywhere.
The thought of finding a handbike festered in my brain, and like any amazing / terrible / wild idea, it took hold. I can’t remember if he found the Craigslist ad for the used handcycle or if i did. I bookmarked it and stared at it for about a week. It was “so expensive”, so strange a concept, I couldn’t think it.
Curiosity won out and I called about the handbike. Why yes, it was still available, and yes, the price WAS firm. My better judgment won out and I bought it, sight unseen. My only criteria was that it functioned.
That handbike was my savior and my sanity. It was my transportation to run simple errands, starting with just a few blocks at a time. I handbiked to the drugstore to pick up laxatives shortly after surgery (embarassing but true). I handbiked to the grocery store to pick up a half gallon of milk, eggs, and a boxed cake mix so I could make a cake for my son’s fourth birthday. Even after I could walk a block or two, I used the handbike for aerobic exercise. I built up the miles gradually and with steady determination until I could bike 100K in in one go, 62 miles, or a metric century.
I sold that handbike a year ago today and I’m feeling rather nostalgic. We delivered it to the gentleman that bought it, my boyfriend and I. The sale was made a little easier because I’m pretty sure I sold it to the most enthusiastic injured cyclist ever. Upon delivery, he came hobbling out of the house on crutches struggling to carry a ton of items. He grinned, looking like a kid in a candy store. He told us he was going to attach lights to it and go for a ride in the pouring rain. I knew my baby was in a good new home and that helped ease the sting of loss.
Remembering those hard times helps as I’m facing down an ambitious summer of cycling goals. I have a triple century planned for June. There, I said it out loud. Do I know if I can do it? Nope. Am I still pushing forward to see where my limits are? Hell yes. Is my boyfriend still around encouraging me to push outside my comfort zone and achieve my goals? You know damn right he is. So tell me – what are you training for this year that scares you?
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