It’s funny how a change in circumstances can broaden our horizons. Nearly 6 weeks after the accident and I’m becoming proficient at no-handed life. With the aid of strong teeth and leg muscles, most basic tasks are achievable.I’m also learning care less about the others, suddenly the need to vacuum my house regularly is receding and happily, life still goes on.
Friends and family too have been amazing, transporting me daily to my new job, bringing food, fun and laughter and, like a small puppy, taking me for regular walks.
I’m missing exercise though, which is a good things as it show’s my body’s healing. However, I’m really missing biking.
Cycling is a huge part of my life, not just fitness, but social, commuting, pedal therapy on all the meditative miles covered.
I know I’m going to be off of the bike for at least 3 months, so, a few weeks ago I started looking into ways I could continue cycling. Frankly I’ve been amazed at the world it has opened up and the inspiration it has provided.
My default option was a turbo trainer (stationary bike) but being too unsteady with no arms and not wanting to make the injury worse, instead I headed down to my local gym.
Although only a mile away it’s a place I’ve never visited, much preferring my sport out of doors, whatever the weather. However, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find an array of recumbent bikes on which, via the joy of interactive tv monitors, I could plot a course around the French Riviera or climbing up alpine peaks. A happy hour of sweaty, nostalgic pedalling did much to lift the spirits as well as the heart rate.
But what about that want of cycling in the fresh air? Bring on the amazing world of all-ability cycling. Innovative and far reaching, within the local area alone are 2 centres specialising in renting out a huge variety of vehicles catering for differently functioning adults.
For example Recumbent Handcycles and trailer trikes, or my current favourite, and the one I’m planning on trying, the very alluring side by side cycle. Two people pedalling, one steering.
Or my recent forray into the world of pedal cars, whilst on holiday. Lauging so hard we could pedal as four of us, aged 2 to 70, launched the car over beach front speed bumps, much to the amusement of other traffic .
I’m passionate about anything that introduces and enables people to cycle and experience that joy and freedom, yet it seems strange to me that I’d never before considered this world of adapted bikes, I guess I’d just never needed to. Just like previously when I’d been ignorant of the myriad of child-friendly cycle options, until close friends and family starting producing children, broadening horizons and opening up my interest and experience…….
The Paralympic games first introduced competitive cycling in Seoul in 1988, but only a single event for visually impaired athletes who competed in tandem racing. Since then the sport and the machines have grown exponentially. The London 2012 games saw 250 athletes competing on bicycles, tandems, tricycles and hand-cycles across 50 cycling events on track and road.
The UCI Paracycling world cup is also currently being played out in heats in Belgium and South Africa. The website offers the chance for watching the live action with all the excitement and drama of seeing some seriously fast cycling, in addition, the athletes achieving this without the functionality that most of us would take for granted.
Over the past few weeks I’ve found myself being inspired and amazed by the unlimited ingenuity and adaptability of both humans and their machines.
My own adventures pale beside these phenomenal athletes, all of whom compete at a level most of us would be proud to achieve on our daily rides. Speeds and feats of endurance I could never hope to reach.
Alongside this, I’m also blown away by the courage and determination of people to adapt, to continue doing the things that they love. So finally, let me introduce you to a man named Hector Picard. Hector, a passionate cyclist, lost both of his arms following a workplace accident in his 20’s, so what did he do? He adapted his bike and continued to compete, not just as a token rider, but as a serious contender. Over the years he’s completed Ironman Triathlon events and Epic cross-country endurance events across the U.S. There are a number of interviews with Hector online, but for me, nothing better sums up his brilliance better than his instruction video on how to change a flat tyre….. with no hands.
As inspirational human beings go, he’s pretty high up on my list. As for that tyre change, I’m up for a challenge, start the clock……!