"It's just like riding a bike!" According to the old saying, riding a bike is supposed to come back easily, even when it's been years since your last ride.
However, these little maxims aren't necessarily true: babies generally don't sleep well; and cats don't always land on their feet. So I was cautiously optimistic that cycling could become my new sport of choice, even as an amputee...
Last weekend I had the opportunity to give it a whirl! I attended a "First Cycling Clinic" in Greenville, South Carolina that was hosted by OPAF (Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Foundation).
In a recent blog post, I mentioned this fantastic organization that provides amputees with opportunities to try athletic activities for the "first" time. It was with OPAF that I had my first experience in the water; now, they put me (and about 30 other amputees) on wheels!
There was a time when I thought that I would never ride a bike again – I assumed that it would be too difficult (and scary) to balance on wheels. And how could I grip a hand brake without hands? Obviously, fall could mean a serious injury.
But, with the adaptations provided by The Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital, I wasn't required to balance, and falls were far less likely. So biking wasn't nearly as scary as the other activities I've tried since losing my hands and feet – not as frightening as walking, running, teaching step aerobics and weight training, or coming down a staircase. And not life-threatening like swimming or skiing!
The folks with OPAF had several different kinds of bikes that I could try – tricycles, hand cycles, and recumbent bikes. You should have seen some of their contraptions, all invented to allow people to experience the exhilarating freedom of riding a bike.
After talking and brainstorming about my unique challenges, we decided that I should try a recumbent bicycle. This arrangement allowed me to pedal without forcing my right knee to bend more than 90 degrees.
Wearing all my prosthetics, I held the handlebars that were twisted 180 degrees so that I could push down on the hand brakes, instead of having to squeeze them.
I sat in the hammock-like seat, strapped my feet in the pedals, and off I went! Before I knew it, I was riding my bike around the block. It was so comfortable and even relaxing. Honestly, it felt more like lounging in a LazyBoy than exercising.
Cycling was easy! Easy as pie! Maybe that will be my next athletic endeavor!
To be continued...