By William Johnstone
I have been a proud owner of a hand cycle for around a year now, thanks to the GoHawkeye Foundation. In that year, I’ve certainly had ups and downs. Due to rotator cuff surgery, I spent time over that year not living up to what I knew my full potential could be. Recovery was a slow road that had to be tackled both mentally and physically. Now, I have recovered and am finally getting the chance to utilize the tools at my disposal.
Not being able to use a traditional bicycle, owning a hand cycle has been a goal of mine for quite some time. Being an amputee doesn’t mean sports and physical fitness are a thing of the past. Although, being an amputee can mean learning new ways to accomplish things and adjusting from what you might be used to. The adjustment can be difficult both mentally and physically. New and unfamiliar things can be scary for anyone. For some people, it takes determination to decide to keep going and to find a reason to continue. I can assure you, though, that the fight is worth it.
For me, owning a hand cycle is an extension of my identity. I’ve been involved with sports for most of my life; whether watching, playing, or coaching. A hand cycle presents me with new challenges in a positive way. I thrive off of settings goals for myself, meeting those goals, and setting new ones. My goals can include anything from certain distances, times for those distances, frequency of use, or more challenging routes.
The physical benefits have helped bring me out of a slump since my surgery. I can tell that cycling has improved my physical strength as well as my endurance. Along with lifting weights, I feel that cycling has played a key role in getting back in better shape. During my recovery period, I had started to gain weight. I was restricted in much of what I was able to do. Now, I am back on track for the goals I have set for myself. In the same regard, cycling definitely helped bring me out of a slump mentally since my surgery as well. Not being able to work or lift over a certain amount of weight had begun to weigh on me. There were times when I didn’t have much motivation for anything. I had to make an active decision to change my mindset and push through. Due in part to cycling, I have discovered a renewed energy for life.