Apr 142013



When we first met, I was not unlike most girls I knew.  Riding horseback seemed like the most idyllic endeavor a girl could pursue.  For David, however, riding a horse meant work.  Days spent moving cows to summer pastures was not always a fond experience, so saddling up two horses for a “pleasure ride” was not on HIS radar.  Horses were work and a necessary part of cattle ranching.

And since David’s 1991 bout with Transverse Myelitis, this cowboy hasn’t ridden a horse for over 20 years.  As you might imagine, if he had normal legs, he probably would jump at a chance now.  (If you are new to my blog, you may want to click here for more background.)

However, he has traded his reigns for chains— bicycle chains, that is.

And his bicycle?  Well, his bicycle isn’t really a bicycle.  In fact, it has three wheels, so technically, it is a tricycle.

So yes, I fell in love with a cowboy (who preferred NOT to ride horses) and ended up with a guy who rides a bicycle—or rather, a tricycle.

Seriously, you say?  Yes, seriously.  And since David “sat down,” his bike riding has become a very serious endeavor.

We bought the trike in 1996.  It set us back $1200 for a 36 gear hand cycle that was a demo model.  The color?  Candy purple.  How very inappropriate for a cowboy.  But very appropriate for a penny pinching cowboy.

The first few years, he didn’t ride it much.  I privately growled to myself about spending so much money on such frivolity.  But as the years have passed, he took a more active, or should I say, passionate interest in it.   Now, he rides it faithfully whenever the skies allow, many times logging over 1,000 miles a year on it.  There have been times when he trails behind our cows as we move them to the lake pasture.  But most of the time, he rides on the highway that runs alongside our wheat fields.

But I must tell you, it has not been without some of the same dangers that trotting on a horse would present.  Four times he has broken his legs while doing his ride. The last break was his right femur. His right femur–if that did not shock you, let me inform you that the femur (thigh bone) is the biggest bone in your body.  Additionally, he has acquired pressure sores from the friction this generates on his cheeks. (Let me explain: when you cannot feel your butt, you aren’t getting the signals that tell you that you are assaulting your skin.  Thus, the birth of a pressure sore.  I am arguing with myself as to whether to tell you more about this in another post.)  But each break has a story worth telling—these definitely will go to press.

Broken bones, pressure sores —all this from using your arms to accomplish what legs normally do. (I have tried to ride this contraption—it is a challenge to push enough to motion forward.)

And then there are the people who ask me, “Why do you let him do this?” (Like I could hide it from him or tell him NO!)   I suppose they consider it dangerous to ride a trike on a major highway.  The stories about the injuries do make most people cringe. They think me to be apathetic or cavalier about the safety my husband.

I tell them that I forsook my protestations years ago.  It simply doesn’t accomplish anything to nag at him.  I liken it to preventing a cow dog from herding cattle—it is just too essential to him for me to “yank his chain.”

So, if the day’s weather seems to be cooperating enough, then ride, he will.  I suppose that there are cowboys that have similar sentiments about riding their horse.

Not to say that we haven’t made changes to reduce the risk.  Since the transfer from wheelchair to trike has resulted in three of the four breaks, we rigged up a swing set with overhead slings so that David can pull himself up and over to make the transfer.

Now since riding a horse was never really one of David’s passions, he has not yet attempted to saddle up and ride since he “sat down and rolled”.  Not to say that he wouldn’t give it a shot.  But given that riding a trike does so much to fill his quest for normalcy, why “fix what ain’t broke”?  And although we would hope to “fix” all that is broken in his body, we will ride this one out, even though we would wish for a different “ride” or even better yet, “a walk in the park”.  Call it what you wish, our life continues and our dreams and faith endure.  The cows and horses, hayfields and a tricycle.  Not the picture we chose, but one that we do not hesitate to call blessed.

Oh, and riding those horses?  No longer a pursuit of mine.   I’ll ride a four-wheeler or walk behind the herd of cows before I’ll get on a saddle.  Sometimes what seems so very keen to a 17 year old passes with time and circumstances.   Possibly wisdom overrules romance?  Or perhaps it is because walking behind a herd of cows is the best way to burn calories or to savor the simple pleasures of life that we all take for granted.

Now that, I am NOT cavalier about.

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 Posted by at 4:41 pm

  2 Responses to “My cowboy rides a tricycle. Part One”

  1. What an awesome story Arlene….it is so great that David finds new ways of doing things and I’m sure peddling that tricycle with his arms is a great workout. I could not have imagined the last time I saw the farm and everyone there that there would be such changes to such hearty, healthy men….you just never know. We do indeed need to be more grateful for our health each day instead of taking it for granted, because you just never know. Thanks for sharing 😀

    • Thanks, Karen! Yes, times have changed. Thankful for Facebook so we can keep in touch!
      And yes, David does get a workout! I think that his cardio heath must be amazing!

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