For those that don’t know, I’m an avid mountain biker in my free time. I often pack my bike in the art show van and ride new trails during my travels. My wife is also a biker and it is often how we spend our days off together.
In May of 2017, my wife and I made a trip to Sedona to get away on our mountain bikes for the day. Sadly, the trip ended when my wife suffered a crash that would impact our lives tremendously over the next 18 months.
We were about two hours into a ride with another couple when disaster stuck. My wife was riding up an off-camber hill when her rear tire slid out behind her and pitched her towards the steep side the trail. She tried to catch the fall with her left leg, but the momentum was too great and she snapped both her ACL and MCL ligaments before tumbling down the hill.
In addition to that, she rolled down the hill onto a “cowboy killer” cactus. If you are not familiar with these desert plants, they are a ball of blades that are extremely stiff and can act like a dagger if you fall on them with any sort of momentum. By God’s grace, she rolled into the cactus back first, allowing her hydration pack to absorb the impact of the blades. One of the blades penetrated every layer of her pack including the water bladder, finally stopping on the vinyl backing of the bladder. Unable to walk, we called the Sedona Fire Dept and they had to take her out on a stretcher via their quad.
Since that day it has been a long recovery process. She had both ligaments replaced with cadaver tissue in August of 2017. We are very grateful to the donor and the family for that gift. After surgery, she spent her first two months healing on the first story of our home, as stairs were an impossibility. Then she had to begin months of rehab, working hard to strengthen the leg. At every step in the process, we prayed for better than expected results and we are grateful for the many blessing God gave us during this ordeal. Examples: she injured her left knee not her right, this allowed her to drive much sooner. Her job allowed her to work from home instead of putting her on medical leave. The Dr. told us after the surgery that the donor tissue was a near perfect fit for my wife’s proportions and made for an efficient surgery.
It was a challenge to juggle the impediments that her injury brought to our daily lives. Between her job, our kids, their activities and my travel for the art shows, we had to rely more heavily on one another to fulfill all the obligations. The experience was a reminder that marriage is ultimately a decision to support one another thru both the crunchy and the smooth times.
I’m proud to say that my wife is pretty fearless and wanted to get back on her bike sooner than her recovery would allow. She worked hard at PT and even began going to boot camp in order to expedite the process. Finally, the Doc approved her to ride once again. She had to slowly work her way back to riding, so she began on the streets around our neighborhood, then moved onto the gravel canal paths nearby and finally onto some easy MTB trails with real dirt and rocks. On my birthday in 2018, she mounted a new bike and we took our first official trail ride together since the crash.
In Dec of 2018, we made our first MTB getaway since the accident. We drove down to Tucson for a few lovely days of riding on the 50 Year Trail and Robles Canyon, while spending some quality time alone without the kids. It was satisfying to reconnect riding the winsome trails we so enjoy.
Between crashing, rattlesnake encounters, bee stings, and the rugged terrain, MTB can be a hazardous activity. But it is a marvelous sport that allows you to travel deep into God’s country and admire his creation, while also challenging your fears and abilities. We always measure the risks when we are out on the trail, but not matter how careful you are accidents still happen.