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The Bike Trip Diaries: 2019 Edition

Eve, of Free Spirit Spheres

This is a 5-Wednesday month. I’m obliged to post 4 times a month. I’m on vacation this week, but I’m going to do a vanity piece to autopost rather than simply post that I’m taking the week off. It’s relevant, I promise.

I’m taking another bike trip to Free Spirit Spheres. Those of you who have read my book know it’s my happy place, and my rehab reward. While lying on a respirator, in and out of consciousness with lungs too damaged to breathe on my own, I promised myself if I was ever able to get there on my bike, I could go to my dream destination, I could go to the exotic and spendy Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island. I made it there in less than a year.

Every year after, I took a little more challenging trip, working up to 14 days out on the road. I scheduled about every third day as a rest day so as not to burn out, but I was away from home, living out of my panniers, solo bike touring for 2 weeks. I did a lot of shorter trips each summer as well—at least one weekend in Victoria and many 2-and-3-day stays in Vancouver.

The trips I took would have been challenging for someone who hadn’t shattered her upper body. Looking forward to them was what kept me going the rest of the year.

Two years ago I took a part-time job doing food delivery when my regular work hit a dry spell. Getting in and out of the car many times an hour, combined with city driving guided by GPS with a distracting stream of orders coming in, proved too hard on my spine and neck.

For the first 5 years after I was hit, I’d had a rib head that kept sliding out of place, pinching a nerve and causing excruciating pain. It took a visit to the chiropractor to get it back in place. I was told surgery wasn’t an option; the rib head needs to be able to move normally, and if I froze it in place, the pain would be far worse than what I had when it went out.

When I started the delivery job, my rib head had been stable for 2 years. After just 8 days on the job, restricting myself to 4-hour shifts, my rib went out in mid-shift. It happened 2 more times in 2 months. I figured I’d be fine on my bike trip, away from the cause of the problem, but on my 10th day out, I reached for the shoulder strap of my pannier bag to carry it downstairs for a ride, and my rib slid out hard. So hard I literally could not get up off the bed for 2 hours to go get help.

It took 2 days of being confined to my bed, waited on by my hosts, to recover enough to be able to cycle out of there and make my painful way home. A month later, while on a delivery, I was tripped by a heaved pavement block on a customer’s front walkway and landed on my face. It took a month to notice that my knee had been badly damaged too—the corner of the pavement took a bite out of the cartilage. The injury grew steadily worse over the next 9 months. I reluctantly planned to use my car to visit my friends on the Island.

This was a huge deal for me; the whole magic of the trip was about getting there on my own power. To bring a car would neuter the Island for me. My self-image included a giant “cone of shame.” To make matters even worse, I fell in my bathroom the night before I left, landing squarely on my injured knee. It was the size of a cantaloupe and I stowed a cane in the trunk of my car. I don’t know why I even put my bike on the car’s rack; the only action Silver saw that trip was to be parked outside Eve, my beloved rental treehouse.

It was still good to see my friends, and I found a tiny house I dearly wanted, in the perfect location, and made an offer on it. I began my application for Canadian residency and discovered in a few weeks that it was not going to happen. https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2018/12/canada-were-watching/  I entered some of the darkest months of my life.

You’ve all been following my tiny house journey; you know I’m heading back today on my bike, bearing photos of my new house. It’s a celebration in every way.

What’s blowing my mind as I leave in my car today, to park it at the ferry and ride onto the boat, is how I used to take the train or bus to Vancouver, and bus across the city to make my connections. The extra energy that took astounds me—that I ever had it. I’m taking this trip to say “I’m back, baby,” but I realize there’s still a long way to go to get back to where I was 3 years ago. My recovery has regressed a lot, and I finally understand the extent of it.

I’ll get back there; the rustic tiny house life ensures a daily dose of toughening, and I’m grateful for how far I’ve come already.

Next trip to the Island will be to see a friend farther north, and I’ll have to drive the car in order to make it there and back in the short time I have available. This trip I have to do by bike, because I have something to prove to myself. On that note, I have to be out of here in 20 minutes. Have a great week, and if you feel like chatting, I’m checking comments on the road. Tell me about your big summer challenge and how you’re (I hope) crushing it.

The Bike Trip Diaries: 2019 Edition


Kristin Noreen

Kristin Noreen lives in Bellingham, Washington with two cats and her vintage touring bicycle, Silver. Her triple passions are animal rescue, long-distance bike touring, and writing. Her book, On Silver Wings: A Life Reconstructed, is about reinventing her life following a catastrophic injury.


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APA Reference
, . (2019). The Bike Trip Diaries: 2019 Edition. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 3, 2020, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/hidden-disabilities/2019/07/the-bike-trip-diaries-2019-edition/

 

Last updated: 23 Jul 2019
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