No, I didn’t ride in the 2018 Mt.Washington Bicycle Hill Climb. I was, instead, in an Atlanta hospital nursing a brain injury I received as the result of a bicycling accident in May. Truth be told, I had given up the idea of competitive or timed cycling long before the August date of the Hill Climb.
I was on a training ride in May when I was hit from behind by a car doing about sixty. I was training for the South Carolina Masters Games where I was scheduled for a 1- and 10-mile Time Trial. I was out for half of May, all of June and July, and half of August. I’m home now and am still slow as cold honey. I hurt all over though my therapists tell me that my brain is close to being healed. When I woke up during the early part of July, it dawned on me that my wife had kept me alive with her continuous presence. And my two youngest, ten-year-old girls, spent most of their summer in the hospital trying to keep Dad alive and sentient.
Here’s the thing: when you have your first brain injury, it heals amazingly fast. In fact, every Monday, when I would report to my therapists, I was amazed at my progress. Compared to shaving 10 seconds off of a ten mile ride this was easy. All of the pathways that are damaged will quickly find new cellular routes to travel. But the second time? Not so fast. The damage tends to be much worse. And the likelihood of seizures increases. It’s been explained to me that the brain is like a four-laned freeway. When you are healthy, two lanes is all it needs. When you are injured it will need that third and fourth lane to keep up and repair. When you are injured again it will take six lanes to keep up. But you only have four. So the brain works overtime and that’s when a seizure occurs. The brain is shutting down the non-essential duties to try to repair damage. I’m just not willing to do that. Not to myself, not to my wife, and not to my children. One summer taking care of Dad is enough. It’s not as if I was riding in the Tour de France!
And I can’t figure out how you would have a bicycling accident at NOT bang your head. You are balancing on a bike which puts your head about six-feet in the air. Even with a helmet – and I have a nice one – any way you fall your head is coming with you.
So I have no Hill Climb position to report. It’s a little sad but I’m not too shook up. I’m still alive and still have my family that loves me. I can still ride my stationary bike for fitness. I can walk and read and write. That makes me happy. It’s said that happiness is not found in the number of things you own but in being content with what you have. And I am content.