Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” —HUNTER S. THOMPSON
In August, 2006 I was on my way home from the local bike shop, riding in the bike lane or what I commonly refer to as “the cloaking device” as it seems that cyclists in the bike lane are often invisible to automobile drivers. “I didn’t see them” is the number one excuse offered in car-meets-bike accidents.
I was right-hooked by a ginormous Ford f450. It all happened in a surreal flash—a blast of white, the crunch of gravel, a moment of “what the fuck” righteous indignation before I passed out. I sustained minor injuries and a mild concussion, not my first. But what became apparent the next time I tried to ride was my left hip didn’t work properly. It didn’t seem terribly bad, it just wasn’t good. It didn’t work very well and it hurt… a lot. I lightened my race schedule, but kept training and racing.
Resting didn’t help. Physical therapy didn’t help. Chiropractic didn’t help. Surgical risks outweighed the potential benefits. For two and a half years I struggled with daily pain that worsened whenever I sat at my desk or rode. My yoga practice changed utterly. I adapted, but I hurt most of the time, actually.
When it became clear I needed a way of dealing with what seemed likely to be a permanent disability I gave my wounded hip a name: Janky.
Janky became the boss of me. Whatever she said goes. If I wanted to race, Janky said which races. Janky hated the road bike anymore, but seemed happy enough mountain biking. Overnight I went from HATING mountain biking to hard-core dirty girl, and even moved to a small mountain town in Central Oregon for a few years just to be closer to the trails. With mountain biking I had far less pain—none usually—and a helluva lot more fun.
In 2009 I sustained another significant injury to my right arm. This injury has been even more debilitating. Years of conservative therapies didn’t help, so I finally opted for surgery. Post surgery I could bend and straighten my elbow, but I am in significant pain every day, still. I tried not riding for the better part of a year, gave up all weight bearing yoga poses and stopped rock climbing, but it made no difference: the pain is there whether I do what I love or just sit around and do nothing.
I choose to do what I love.
This is why this blog exists. There will be times when you can’t do what you love—whether due to physical injury or illness, or the tyranny of depression or other debilitating life circumstances. You will face pain and defeat and your body, your mind and maybe even your spirit will betray you. Keep going. If you love what you do, find a way back to it.
Whatever your perceived limitations, whatever handicaps threaten your enjoyment in life, whatever pain holds you back or brings you down… There is a way back to joy. Seek it. Find it. Look everywhere. It’s there for you! And when you find it grab hold and hang on until your fingers bleed and then… don’t let go.
Me, I’d rather die worn out and happy from the adventures that come with the road less travelled than well preserved and forever wondering where those roads led…