Riding out of hole

TJ John - Bolivar, MO

Riding out of hole

Eight years ago I was skiing in Whistler and fell off a 15-20 foot drop-off and injured my back. I sustained a fracture of the first lumbar vertebra and my disc between L1 and L2 ruptured into the body of the L1 vertebra, and died. I also injured the nerve roots at L3, L4, and L5, giving my drop-foot on my right side. At this point in time, I also weighed approximately 210 pounds. I had always somewhat battled being overweight as long as I can remember. However, after this injury, and multiple doctor's visits, my options were surgery, or try to lose weight to prevent surgery. So I tried to lose weight. I started cycling with on a Trek 4300 mountain bike, but I rode it on sealed and chipped roads throughout the county. I also changed my diet and started dropping weight. Amazingly, I noticed that my back pain was a ton better on the bike. So, instead of trying to take massive amounts of pain killers, I RODE! If I could ride two times a day, I could get completely off of any narcotic drugs. 

However, I could only stand for about 10 minutes without having significant back pain, lucky for me, I had a job which allowed me to sit. I also couldn't go to do things with my family, like an amusement park, or to the mall, without being one of those fellers who sits on the benches and falls asleep or watches people. This does not fit my personality, and I still felt disabled, unless I was on my bike, then my felt ALIVE and FREE and NORMAL! Too bad you can't take your bike and ride it around the inside of an amusement park or inside a mall! 

Last year, I finally decided to" take the leap" and have back surgery - a spinal fusion of L1-L2. The odds were 50/50 it would help me. I was down to 145 pounds and still struggling to fight the good fight! 

Since my surgery, the bike has brought me back to the point, where this past July, I climbed Mt Evans (14,240 feet) at the Bob Cooke Memorial Hill Climb in Colorado. Sitting there on top of that mountain and thinking about how far I have come and how the bicycle got me to this healthy point was unbelievable! I am a blessed man because of cycling! I owe my health and happiness to cycling! 

Oh, there was one more amazing benefit to cycling...that was my ADHD was a ton better, so much that I don't have to take meds anymore! I can't believe how much cycling has changed my life! 

Thanks and I wish you the best as you try to select a person...I know there are a ton of great stories how cycling has changed peoples lives, because I run into them at cycling events all the time!

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