Way back in May 2012 I started having pain in my leg not just while cycling (that part was normal since my bicycle and gear weighed about 75 pounds), but when I stopped riding too. It’d get all tight and feel swollen behind the knee and I had trouble straightening it. Now I know that I was slowly tearing my calf muscle and my hamstring, and that this was putting pressure on my knee joint, but at the time I just thought that maybe I wasn’t stretching enough.
As we cycled through Europe I took several trips to doctors trying to figure out what was wrong. By the time we made it to Austria I was unable to straighten my leg. I rested for three weeks and got back on the bike in Paris.
Alan took all the panniers and kept a good sense of humor about it as we rode short days through England and Wales. By the time we made it to Ireland, I was certain something was really wrong. A physio there confirmed that I needed to seek long-term medical treatment and so, disappointed and frustrated we booked tickets home.
Back home I was seen by a sports medicine doctor. I did Physical Therapy four times a week, had cortisone shots to aid the healing of the torn muscles, did acupuncture, and rested. Rested a lot. By December it became clear that cycling was going to be out of the question for a while. Since the injury seems to have occurred from overuse (a repetitive motion injury), I need to strengthen my legs in a new way, and will need to be careful in the future to not overdo specific motions… like say, cycling for a year straight.
Initially, all of this information was incredibly disappointing. We love to travel by bicycle because of the pace and the access it give us to culture and community. But this project was always about documenting the millennial generation around the world, and we’re not willing to let one bum knee get in the way of that. We still have three distinct regions to document, and we’re getting creative about how to do that.
Next week we’ll leave in our newly outfitted camper-car, a Honda Element with a bed and storage platform that we built into it, to travel around the United States for six months documenting millennials here in our own country. In the fall we’ll head to Asia and then on to Africa to finish out the project.
These last several months have been alternately infuriating and inspiring as we’ve worked full time on rehabilitation and on preparations to move forward with the project. Thank you all for your support through this recovery time. All of your encouraging emails and messages have been wonderful and we genuinely appreciate you hanging in there through all of this. We hope you’re as excited about this next leg of the project as we are. Just three more days until we’re back on the road…