Cycling with Spinal Cord Injury
I had not ridden a bike in almost 2 years, but I was enjoying every moment of my “epic” first ride of 1.7 miles on my brand-new ICE Adventure HD. The effort to climb the small hills was aided by the mountain bike type gearing, and the downhills were an absolute scream, topping out at 30 mph. Of course, anything is relatively fast when compared to my usual mode of transportation…a motorized wheelchair.
In June of 2011 I fractured the C3-4 vertebrae in my neck at our family cabin in Colorado. I was not found for 2 days, and spent a month in ICU; paralyzed below my shoulders. Thanks to the efforts of my parents, I ended up at a world-class hospital for spinal cord injury (SCI) at Craig Hospital, coincidentally also in Colorado. There I began the journey to heal, which continues today, and will do so the rest of my life. Short of cancer, I believe that SCI is one of the most devastating medical pitfalls. It is like a nuclear weapon that devastates every area of your life; physical, emotional, financial.
Prior to the injury I was an executive in the biotech industry in California, leading a fast-paced, independent lifestyle with a lot of travel and challenging assignments. I was also an avid cyclist, both road and mountain. Long road rides next to the ocean along the Pacific Coast Highway, or blasting down a fire road in the Santa Monica mountains were a great workout and stress reliever. I have never enjoyed working out indoors, much preferring to get lost in the ride and switch my mind into neutral.
My injury changed that, and I spent countless hours in physical therapy, literally re-learning how to do everything. I was very blessed that my spinal cord was not completely severed, and I slowly began to regain use of my arms and then legs. I found that I could pedal a stationary bike on my own, and began to dream of riding again. At that point I was thinking only of my diamond frame bikes, and worked on getting the strength and balance I would need. Ultimately however, my recovery began to plateau short of the point where I could ever ride my old bikes. After being reminded of a recumbent bike that was on display in the lobby of Craig, I began to research recumbents, and then trikes. I rode a demo ICE at a local dealer and was hooked; I was grinning from ear-to-ear in the parking lot.
You can look at the website and see the passion that the folks at ICE put into their work. You can ride one and feel the stable, comfortable and responsive ride; they are great trikes. But for me, the Adventure trike gave me a piece of my life back. Thanks!
- Kevin Stark
For more info on Craig Hospital and SCI, see: www.craighospital.org