12 June 2018

Pedal Forward

If someone asked me to write ten things I learned from my bicycle (or car) wreck, my list might be kind of juvenile. Some lessons I didn't have to learn the hard way, thank goodness. Most probably would not be applicable to, much less heeded by, other cyclists.

1. Pray before every ride.

2. Always wear a helmet.

3. Make sure the camera in your backpack is well-padded.

4. Don't go too fast.

5. Don't squeeze the breaks too hard.

6. Tuck and roll is good, but you have to remember to keep that right hand tucked. Don't stick it out to catch your whole body's weight!

7. The Over-The-Bars Scar Club is cool and sometimes even humorous, but one membership - one time - is adequate. Repeat performances aren't necessary.

8. Don't wait until 11 p.m. to go to the emergency room.

9. Never drop your insurance when you think it's a waste of money because you don't use it.

10. Don't try to comb your hair or put a fork in your mouth with your left hand while wearing a cast on your right hand.

I never got to meet Trey Hall, cyclist supreme and CEO of corporations such as Pizza Hut, Boston Market, Quizno's, Smashburger and TGI Fridays, but I recently met his wonderful wife Ann. Turns out we have much in common. She likes to ride her bike, too, and she likes to garden. We share a common faith. Before I left for a short, hot and sweet cycling vacation in Moab last weekend, Ann presented me with a copy of her husband's book, "Pedal Forward." I read it aloud in the car to my husband while he drove us home from Moab.

Suffice it to say, we could not put the book down once we started reading. The book is short, 133 pages, but packed with 10 magnificent lessons he learned during his recovery that helped him throughout his career and life. To say his experiences have had an impact on our lives and attitudes is an understatement. I think our lives have changed, and I'm glad. We both needed to hear how important our attitude is, especially after enduring hard knocks.

Trey, who died May 25, 2015, during a bicycle ride with Ann, fought back from what could have been a fatal bicycle wreck back in 1991 and 20 years later wrote a book about the lessons he learned during his recovery and achieving his goal to have a good attitude, learn to walk again, be a father, get back on the bike and go back to work.

After reading the book, I felt an incredible sadness that I had not met Trey before he died. And yet, I feel incredibly blessed to be his wife's friend now. When I told her I wish I had met him, she told me I will, I just have to be patient. She strongly believes in what comes after, just like I do, and she isn't afraid to talk about it. She has the faith of a saint, and she had to be one of the strongest women in the world to watch her husband go through the healing and recovery process after his body was so severely damaged.

Trey and friend Ken Calwell were riding about 20 mph near their homes in Kansas when they were hit head on by a woman who fell asleep at the wheel while traveling 55 mph. Scientifically and mathematically, the impact was something equivalent to the neighborhood of 75 mph. Can you imagine traveling over the hood of a vehicle, into the windshield and over the roof of the car before landing splat on the pavement after being hit that hard... and surviving???

Trey's lessons come from the bike, but he victoriously applies them to everyday life and any career. One of the reasons he went on to become such a successful businessman and wonderful father is because he paid attention to the lessons he learned from his bicycle.

His first and last lessons in the book hit me the hardest, even though I feel as if I've tried to incorporate them into my life my whole life, even before my car and bike wrecks. "It's the After that Matters," meaning what you do after something awful knocks the ground out from under you, is more important than how many owies you have because you hit the ground. I've had my share of owies, but what matters most is how I keep my head up and how I treat others in the wake of tragedy.

"Find the Joy" is self-explanatory. I don't know how Trey managed to maintain joy while going through such a brutal and excruciating recovery, even though he explains it well in the book. My owies have been nowhere near the degree of incapacitation as Trey's, yet there were days during both my recoveries, as well as when I had to move on after the death of my sister, the death of my brother, and both of my adopted kids running away, when something as simple as "Find the Joy" seemed like an unclimbable mountain.

And yet, the experiences Trey shares to illustrate his lessons help me see ways I can overpower depression that sometimes takes a bigger bite out of me than I think I can handle.

One of Trey's lessons... "Celebrate the Pain", often left me wincing. His descriptions of the pain he suffered brought back memories too real. I often was crying as I read to my husband. Ask him. He'll tell you. It hurt to remember such hurt so vividly. And yet, Trey found ways to bounce back.

So did I. I guess, in some ways, I didn't really understand I have bounced back until I read what Ken had to say about recovering and thriving in the process. What he wrote empowered me. It gave me courage. It's still giving me courage. His words are not going to fade away.

"Pedal Forward" is one of the best books I've ever read. I will be ever grateful Ann gifted me a copy. I am even more grateful to know her now, and I hope we will be able to share many experiences and memories that will help both of us triumph through the difficulties of life, as well as shine through the crowning moments. That's what Trey would have wanted. Or as Ann puts it, that's what Trey wants.


  1. That would sure be quite the smack at 75 mph. Ouch big time. Amazing what some people decide to get back up from and help others. It's the after that matters indeed. Too many wallow when they can get back up, no matter if it takes years, and get back at it.

    1. Exactly, Pat. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment!

  2. Amen to the ten lessons!

    You described Mr. Hall's accident so well that I had a hard time reading on (I still don't deal well with thoughts of bike/car collisions). But it sounds like you found comfort and help from this book, and that is a good thing.

    1. You might not be able to get through the book, Sue, due to some of the accident descriptions and trauma, but it was a wonderful book, and the way he pulled his pain into the lessons sticks. It's not something I can ever forget!


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