Book Review: Cycle of Hope (A journey from paralysis to possibility by Tricia Downing

OK, right of the bat folks, I gotta tell ya this is NOT my normal kind of book. I love books about cycling, cycle travel, and have even fought my way through some books on cycle racing. But, as a rule, I steer away from the “I got hurt and made it back and this would be a great Lifetime network movie” kinda story.

However, I was looking for a good cycling book to read, and my Facebook cycling friends Naomi recommended this one. She told me that it helped her as she recovered from and injury. Well, hell, I once fought my way through a Nicholas Sparks book, why not give this one a chance!

I am glad I did…

By her own accounts, and I have no reason to doubt her, Tricia was, in short, a bad ass cyclist. She had always been fit and athletic as she grew up, but somewhere in her 20s she discovered cycling. As a cyclist myself I understand her feelings of saddling up and never wanting to stop. For me it’s seeing the countryside on the back of a bike. For her, it was racing, going fast, and competing against the best.

The lady was smart. She got a job with a school district. This left her the summers to ride all over the US, compete in different races, and in the summer of 2000, she was doing just that.

Then on September 17th, 2000, a driver who said the sun was in her eyes turned left, directly in front of her. Next thing she knows she is on the ground paralyzed from the chest down.

Editors note: This is a fear of all cyclists, and for that matter cyclists families. Never a ride goes by that, somewhere in the back of a cyclist head, there is a thought of a crash. We have to watch out for cars, and for that matter other cyclists. On trails its kids, joggers and hell, even squirrels. All of which can cause a crash! I make sure to be careful and make eye contact with drivers whenever I can! 

But then I just read an article about a lady killed while watching TV on her couch, by a drunk driver crashing into her house. If its your time, its gonna find ya, and I’d rather go outside having fun than protecting myself with bubble wrap and hiding in a corner! (but I digress!)   

Tricia did an excellent job recounting her stay in the hospital and rehab center.  I had to laugh though, when she explained her preaccident love life. At the time, she was seeing 2 different cyclists. In fact, she was with one of her guys when the accident happened.

So of course, when she was in the hospital, both were there. Loved her comment about this:

A good mother will teach you to wear to clean underwear “You never know when you’ll be in an accident and have to go to the hospital”… But I never heard my mom say, “Never have two boyfriends at once, because you might have an accident and you don’t want both of them to show up in the hospital at the same time, do you?”

This was about the only funny part of the hospital. There were surgeries, depressions, and a bed sore so deep they had to have her flat on her back for 6 weeks to let it heal. This had to be pure hell for a competitive cyclist. Plus the knowledge that she would never again be able to do what made her so happy, ride the bike.

However, and this is why she truly impressed me, the heart was strong with this one.

She fully admitted she would never accept and be happy that she could not walk (read her letter to the person who hit her with the car for specifics…) but she was NOT going to be a couch potato.

She soon learned about racing wheel chairs and hand cycles. After a few fits and starts, she got swimming down pat. So naturally, as a person who is paralyzed from the chest down and needs help just sitting up, she plans to do a triathlon!

Now once again, she and I think alike. I don’t race, but I HATE being last. I always want to finish in front of someone! On her first tri, she was pretty hard on herself. She was NOT fast, and was beating herself up pretty bad… Until she caught her first ‘able bodied’ runner. She was not last! She could compete!

She then set her sights on an Ironman hoping for the granddaddy of them all, Kona Hawaii. But for THAT you will have to read yourself.

The author did an excellent job here. I never new a racing wheel chair had to go backwards up steep hills. Or even though how hard it would be to swim with no legs. Tricia gave us the details, and shared her deepest thoughts, both good and bad. I would be cool to meet her someday!

It’s a great book, fast read, and well worth it! I gave it 4 stars!

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4 Responses to Book Review: Cycle of Hope (A journey from paralysis to possibility by Tricia Downing

  1. Great review, Tony! I always look forward to your book reviews as you tell honestly what does and doesn’t come across well in the writing or the story. I am glad you made it through this one without needing Alka-Seltzer or an aspirin!

  2. sarburch says:

    Wow, great review. Thanks for sharing. I like books like this. I think they are really good at putting life in perspective. Thanks for the suggestion — I now have another title on my to-read list!

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