Memorial Reflections

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Four years ago, I spent Memorial Weekend in Community Hospital, Long Beach, California, recovering from total hip replacement surgery. A few days prior, I crashed on my 21 Speed Mongoose 29er Mountain Bike and broke my hip. Although you never forget how to ride a bike, according to medical studies of memory, I experienced a brain injury, after a car hit me at 55 MPH while riding a motorcycle, in 1991 that effects my balance. Because of that, I tried stabilizer wheels; however, they didn’t fit even though they were advertised to fit bikes with 20-29” wheels. I attempted using them with a dramatic lean on the drive side. It was during a ride to the local park where I’d do pull ups that the bike shifted from one side to the other. Each stabilizer wheel was about 3” off the ground, so it was about 6” between stabilizer wheels and when the other wheel touched down it bounced up with enough force to cause a crash. I’d been through several crashes before I tried the stabilizer wheels, but for whatever reason, this one broke my hip. I didn’t know until an ex-ray revealed it; I was unable to get up and walk so a paramedic had to bring me to the hospital.

In 1995, I bought an 18 speed mountain bike as a stepping stone to get back on a motorcycle. The beginning was hard, I’d ride and all would be well until a random start would cause a loss of balance and crash. They where low speed crashes (less than 5 MPH; because 5 MPH is the self balance speed). As time past, a couple months, my balance improved and I advanced from peaceful neighborhoods to busier business zones. In 1999, I had a second motorcycle accident and didn’t ride again until 2016. Within that time, my balance got worse and I was living in Long Beach opposed to Palm Desert. The population was about 1,500% higher and the traffic on the roads was greater, even in the neighborhoods. That traffic dilemma prevented me from attempting to ride a bike for over a decade. When I started again, I bought an adult tricycle. After Assembly, riding it on the busy main roads of Long Beach was easy. I’ve rode over 16,000 miles on five adult trikes the past 5 years, but last month bought another bicycle. I’ve rode over 300 miles on it the last few weeks, and to keep motivated, I’ll use it as a stepping stone for a faster bike (possibly a high performance road bike; I’ve never had one).

I don’t have the peaceful neighborhoods to practice in anymore; there are some neighborhoods, but they are busier. I installed stabilizer wheels on my new bicycle, but this time they actually fit. One difference is my 2016 mountain bike had 29 inch wheels while my 2021 Electra Townie has 26 inch wheels. I don’t think that is the main reason. On the old bicycle, the upper portion of the frame was too thick for the upper support brackets; however, the new bicycle frame mounts all three points of the support brackets. With the old frame only able to mount 2 points, the lack of support was probably the primary reason for mechanical failure causing injury. The wheels are solid now; I rode 4 days on level 2, and the last 2 weeks on level 1. The first level has allowed me to ride faster and become used to the way the bicycle handles. I’ll switch to level 2 again, next month, and hope my balance has improved enough to allow me to ride as fast as level 1.

It is awesome not to be in the hospital recovering from total hip replacement surgery Memorial Day Weekend 2018-2021 and riding a bike (trikes in 2018-2020, and a bicycle in 2021). I’ve had some challenges to get to this point, and hope my experiences can help others on this crazy cycle journey.