While mountain biking at the Snoqualmie Summit I felt a tingling in my left hand then the left leg and it was on a hill while I was pedaling up in the lowest gear. My body fell forward and I caught myself with the left elbow on the top of the handle bars. My right arm and right leg were both still working strong. I turned the handle bars hard to the right and headed across the hill, not up, not down, just across. Then a little down so gravity would help me. This all before I thought about it.
This type of thing has been happening for two decades to me. I woke up this morning with a lot of problems in my left hand and left leg. They just don’t work all of the time. For me it is because of the parachute accident I had two decades ago while serving in the US Army Airborne Rangers.
The soft tissue damage in my neck has a tendency to tense up and pinch off the nerves, basically disconnecting my brain from the rest of my body. It causes pain and partial paralysis.
The nice thing about sudden paralysis on a bike is that you are less likely to fall down. When I used to run and walk, the sudden paralysis always hurts because no matter what I usually fell down.
I managed to coast back down from 3300 feet to 3000 feet elevation of the summit. The problem was that I needed to go uphill to get back to the SnoqualmieRetreat.com where I like to stay. It is close to the city, has a hot tub and lots of fresh air. I will be posting more picture on my facebook page photo album so far all the pics are from the winter.
Fortunately my right leg and arm had a second wind. I managed to get back to the retreat and get into the hot tub to relax.
For my health and injury prevention I have had to rethink my exercise routine. For better health we are all supposed to walk or exercise 20 minutes a day. I need to schedule in relaxation time too. I get so caught up in the mission of TheyShallWalk.org to ‘give the gift of walking’ I forget to be thankful that I have the gift of walking myself and that I have a moral obligation to take good care of the gift I have. I need to take care of my health first if I think I am going to be able to help anyone else.
Since walking and running give me such a hard time I will swim, or go with the bike.
I used to be a long distance runner. My idea of a short run in highs school was 17 miles.
I would do that run for the fun of it. I had a couple of routes I would take from my Wallingford home back then. I would run south to lake union where I could see the seaplanes taking off and landing. They used to be “Lake Union Air” and now are Kenmore air www.kenmoreair.com . When I got to the lake I would turn left towards Fremont http://www.fremontseattle.com/
Even back then I could smell the Greek food from Costas Opa http://www.costasopa.com/ I would cross the Fremont bridge and then head West towards the Ballard bridge. I just loved the water. In the summer months I would hit the rope swing and dive into the canal to cool off. On the way to the Ballard bridge I would very often take a detour up Queen Ann Hill to work on my calves.
Some of the houses on the hill were, and still are amazing. Sometimes I would take another detour to the Seattle Water front. On the really long distance days I would continue to the 1st ave south bridge.
Sometime I would run up Roxbary up to West Seattle and then on to Alki. Other days I would turn East and head into the Rainer valley. Then North to pill hill and onto capital hill. The hills were my favorite thing about running in Seattle. The bridges and the water are my next favorites.
Coming down from the hills I would choose to run through the arboretum and then cross the Montlake cut bridge or the University Bridge. Usually I would choose Montlake so I could run through the UW campus and then the Ave in the University district http://www.udistrictchamber.org/. I am amazed that I had all that energy to run so far back then.
Crossing the U district bridge and heading south on Eastlake past the restaurants like Daly’s Drive-In(now closed) and rounding the southern tip of lake union around to Westlake. At that point I would usually slow down to check my ankles and calves to see if I should head back to Wallingford via Fremont or if I should run to the Seattle Center http://www.seattlecenter.com/.
There is no way to describe the elation I felt when I still had enough ‘juice’ to run through the Seattle Center. It is there during those runs that I learned to control my hunger. A couple of blocks away and you could always smell the cotton candy, popcorn and hot dogs at the fair. Other discipline was developed because everything in me that was still a kid wanted to stop and play on the rides or at the arcade. Instead I would head to the fountain.
No matter the weather I would get wet if the water was running. They turned it off if it was freezing. That was my ‘stop gap’ on whether I would get into the water or not. If it was there I would get wet.
At that point I was usually coughing a little blood because I suffered from a mild form of asthma as a child. Many times I would wake in the middle of the night gasping for air.
My running was a personal battle against asthma. By the time I was in high school I had almost beaten it.
After the fountain I had to run a little faster to dry off or to keep my body temperature high enough so I would not get sick. The amazing site whenever I slowed down on that last leg of the run was to see all of the steam pouring off of my body, especially in the fall or winter. I would run up to a red light and jog in place while I waited for it to change.
The steam was so thick sometimes it was hard to see when the light changed.
I experienced a second wind, third wind, fourth and fifth. It was shocking to see that I could actually feel I had no energy left and then when I decided to ‘flip a switch’ I could run with an new burst of energy and stamina. I never tried to see if there was ‘no limit’ to the ‘second wind’ I just have personally tested it to the ‘sixth wind’
After I was paralyzed in the parachute accident it was painful to imagine returning to Seattle and be able to see the hills and bridges and not run them.
Today I take my bike.
I am even thinking about getting an “Undrivers License” http://undriving.org/
For more about my Journey as a LIFESUIT Robotic Exoskeleton Test Pilot, stories of rehab, suffering and overcoming check my blog http://theyshallwalk.org/blog/ and click on http://theyshallwalk.org/category/test-pilot-journey-lifesuit-driver/