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I am a flatbed truck driver. I ride a 2002 Harley-Davidson Road King that I bought from my brother and put 16,000 miles on in the first 13 months I had it. I have only been riding on my own for less than two years.
Last November I fell from the top of a loaded flatbed, 7 feet in the air, head first. I shattered both my wrists, broke my nose and took 10 stitches in three places on my face. I had pins and external fixators on both my wrists for 10 weeks and lost all strength and flexibility on both. The doctor said that she doubted that I would be able to return to work untill this coming November, if then. She also said that she doesnt know if I will be able to continue pulling a flatbed because of the physical nature of the job. I may have to go back to pulling a box.
After a few weeks of occupational therapy, I would go out once a week and try to pull the clutch handle back. My Road King has a cable clutch and it is stiff. I figured that when I could pull it back and it did not hurt, I could ride. At the beginning of March, my doctor told me that I could not get back on my bike yet because my bones were still not healed. I had a non-union in the radial bones of both wrists. She put me on bone stimulators and that it is helping. But I still couldnt pull the clutch back without pain.
Being off my bike for four months was driving me crazy, so I did some research and found a clutch assist. It fits right on the bar, under the mirror and takes about 10 minutes to install. Now I can pull my clutch back with ease. But I was scared of getting back on the bike. What if something happened and I went down. My doctor has told me over and over that I have to wear my braces any time I am not sitting down on the couch. She says that if I fall and re-fracture my wrists, I will never go back to work. So I waited another month, used my stimulators and then took a test run.
I rode down my street and back. Then I rode to my occupational therapy sessions. Last week, we had a Patriot Guard mission about an hour away from where I live and I rode to it. I was a bit sore by the time I got home, but it was great to get back on the bike and have a ride in the country on my way to Biloxi, Mississippi.
All my friends are concerned with my riding from the Mississippi Gulf Coast to Sturgis this year; many have told me to trailer my bike. I feel that if I cant ride it there, then I should just stay home! I have a trip planned on my bike for the end of June to Arizona, California, Texas, and Arizona with my dad and brother. That will take us three weeks to do. I will be home for two weeks and then head to Sturgis. If I have to add a day or two because I have to do less miles, then that is what I will do just so I can ride my bike there.
Never allow a road block to keep you from that which makes you whole. That is what riding does for me. I am a woman of the road, weather on 18 wheels or on two wheels, that is where you will find me and that is where I find my peace.
Making Sturgis was a bit bitter sweet. It took me five days (1800 miles the way I went) to get there this year, instead of four like last year. My wrists were so sore from the riding, cold and rain that I was only able to ride my own bike a couple of days and rode behind one of my friends most days. Then by the time I was ready to leave on Sunday, my dad was afraid that I was doing damage to my wrists trying to ride my bike the 1600 miles back home. He hooked up a trailer and met me between Sturgis, South Dakota and Lucedale, Mississippi, two days later. Putting my bike on a trailer broke my heart. I have always had the code that if I couldnt ride it, then I didnt need to go. It really sucks to have your body give out on you; but with good friends and family I was able to make it to Sturgis this year.
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22 thoughts on Reader Story: Getting Past the Roadblocks
There is no failure in any part of your story! Being a physical therapist for 30 years, I’ve seen how hard it is to overcome life — changes in the body, and sometimes in the spirit. What a journey life is! Like tacking in a sailboat. Going down a road with dreams and goals and oops, bumps/bruises/broken body and mind come our way. We just have to keep moving forward but perhaps in a slightly different direction. More tacking, more slight direction changes. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished, and all your changes that are leading you still forward. You are quite a woman, trucker and biker! Safe travels on those 18 and two wheels.
You go girl and keep on riding. Six years ago I had a stroke and have not been able to get back on my bike since. I admire your strength.
Remember the T-shirt says “I rode Mine to Sturgis.” It doesn't say anything about riding back. Considering your injuries, you did very well to be able to ride out there. As has been mentioned, if you push too hard you go in reverse. So keep pushing but not too much and you will be surprised how quickly you heal. Have great rides.
I too broke my wrist this past winter but have not been able to ride. I am curious about the clutch assist you have. Would you please let me know where you found it.
There is no shame in being gentle with yourself. That way you can ride when in you are 90!
Your story is inspirational. I commend you for not giving up your dream. As I age past 50, I find that my body will not go as far as my mind will, (or maybe not as fast). You say that if you “couldn't ride it then you didn't need to go” – one thing about age is that you gain wisdom (experience). You just get better at finding a way to do what you want! It might take a little longer to get somewhere, but you can still go! And you might just have to accept a little help from your friends. Thank God for them.
Wow girl. Don't be so hard on yourself. You have accomplished something that many only dream about (self included). Obviously you challenged yourself daily and fought to heal your body. Then after days of working so hard you ride to Sturgis. Simply amazing. No other words fit. You rock and should be proud.
Your story really inspired me, especially as I recover from my second bike (read non-motorized bicycle) wreck in just over two months. I have put 36,000 miles on the road on my bicycles without incident, now to have this happen (twice). The result of the wrecks have been fractured ribs, punctured lung, bruised hip, etc. My biggest frustration is that the wrecks have kept me off my Harley Dyna Super Glide. Had finally gotten back on my hog after mending from first wreck a couple of weeks ago for a great ride, to have the second wreck happen just over a week later. My friends tell me to stay on my motorcycle, it's safer!
I got my Super Glide a little over a year ago and love it! Hope to be back on it as soon as swollen/painful ribs allow! Hang in there and am so impressed you made it to Sturgis this year!!
You go girl. Doing your best is nothing to be ashamed about. You'll get better with time and be able to ride more. Just doing what you did is an amazing.
You are one awesome lady! Hopefully you will be completely healed soon. Hey, baby steps at first. You'll be on the road with no pain in time. You're young, healthy, and lucky to have such a supportive family! Keep the shiny side up and be safe!
Kudos for you for getting back on! I had a serious accident back in March, my first in 27 years of riding, and I got back on as soon as I could. I took it slow, though, and I canceled my ride to the WMC in Keystone, CO, because I knew I couldn't ride the distance. But last weekend I rode for four hours — a milestone for me since the accident, and I have promised myself I'll be ready for some long distance riding again by this time next year. Best of luck to you from this sister of the road.
I hope she did not harm her wrists any further, and I am very proud of women like her who have the courage to follow their dreams.
Good for you girl! I admire your spirit. I too have the same philosophy as you. Ride it or leave it parked. I struggle with epicondolytis in both arms due to working a computer every day all day and need to be careful not to push myself too hard at work or on the bike. Thus, I am interested in learning more around the clutch assist you had installed. I'd appreciate it if you could e-mail the information. Thanks and I'm glad you have been able to work yourself back on the bike. Email: email@example.com
Don't feel downhearted about your achievements. You are still healing! I say you should be congratulated for making it on the first trip you took and what you did going to Sturgis and back! Good job, Cynthia!
Thank you for sharing your story. You have an amazing spirit and as long as you keep that great attitude, you'll be fine. I have Rheumatoid arthritis and am just starting to ride. I am loving it but struggling a bit with clutch hand. I'm glad to hear there are some assistive devices available. I figured there would be.
Ride when you can. Drive when you can. Be thankful every day to be alive and still able to do the things you love. I used to hike 20 miles and now I get really mad that I can only do 6 miles due to painful hip and knee joints. One of my friends put it in perspective when she said she would love to be in good enough shape to go 6 miles! It dawned on me that I was indeed, fortunate to be able to still spend my time in nature despite my disease. It's not the same as it used to be, but it's no less enriching. So I changed my expectations of my hikes. Instead of walking all day, I walk a couple of miles and sit and read and meditate and enjoy the outdoors. Now I can ride my new motorcycle in the wilderness!
Think outside the box. There's always a way. Stay strong!
Great story. That was very sweet of your dad to give you a lift. Sometimes our hard headness gets in the way, but it takes good people as your dad to make us overcome our stubborness. Hope you heal completely soon!
Wow, your story is inspirational! You didn't let something stop you even though it was difficult. I have always had the thought also that if you can't ride stay home. This made me re-think that and realize every situation is unique and should be treated as such. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on keeping your eye on your goal and not letting down because circumstances weren't always favorable!
Don't be discouraged and feel like you failed. Look at what you overcame instead. How fantastic that you made it to Sturgis at all. Many can't take that kind of time off to get there.
I, too, am dealing with a less than perfect body. I have severe back pain from no specific injury and have gone through two different bikes in two years, trying to find the right bike (new rider also). I can relate to missing out on some great rides. But, I'm working on teaching my back to not think it's in pain, through exercise, stretching and deep tissue massage… sometimes my back just screams anyway. I'm determined to find the right bike and get it set up for me to do rides like you do.
You will heal, and get to ride to Sturgis next year, all the way there and back.Maybe I'll get to go too! Hang in there girlfriend.
Awesome Cynthia. You're really a brave lady to get back in the saddle and “go for it.”
You are an inspiration to others for your strength.
Keep on biken and truckin!
Great story Cynthia! I agree with you whole heartedly. I suffered a serious herniated disk at the beginning of last summer and was told by one surgeon not to ride, and another said if you can tolerate it then go ahead. I opted to take small rides as I could tolerate and because I was so stubborn and gung ho to ride I did my exercises religiously. I have no regrets. I ended that summer riding my butt off and I have to believe that my recovery was due in part to my longing to hit the open road. Thanks for sharing. It's articles like yours that make us believe we can do it!
I also have faced some obstacles. My husband does not like that I ride but he knows it is my dream and also keeps me alive. I have never loved doing anything as well as biking. I only pray that anyone else with the dream of biking will follow through and do it.
As a differently-abled pillion rider, I can appreciate the disappointment in your goals and objectives. But, there is always a but, you did it! You healed enough to ride out, to participate and belong, returning in a different venture is just that: not right, not wrong, just different. Kudos for living your dream if only differently. Next year will be better.