And a crunch. Those were the noises my right knee made as the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tore. Whatever self-preservation reflex existed in my brain, it didn’t extend to keeping my 50 year-old knees and I off the futsal court that lunchtime. And so it was that I ended up in the capable hands of Dr. Chan Kin Yuen at the Gleneagles Hospital. An initial manipulation of my knee and a follow-up MRI confirmed Dr. Chan’s diagnosis of a Grade III tear, where the ligament is completely ruptured. To literally add insult to injury I had also torn the anterior and posterior menisci.
Imagine an empty space where the ACL is in the picture below and you have a good approximation of what the MRI of my knee looked like.
Fast-forward eighteen months or so. I will spare you the painful details. Suffice to say that in that time Dr. Chan has rebuilt my knee. The physiotherapists had restored my knee’s full range of motion. Despite their best efforts I had moved to Houston with one leg significantly skinnier than the other. I had lost a lot of upper leg muscle mass after months on crutches while my knee healed. I needed regular exercise to build up the muscles again. The limiting factor was that my knee hurt whenever I jogged or ran.
I don’t know what prompted the thought but one day I decided to buy a bicycle. I did a bit of online research and decided that a hybrid bike was what I needed. A comfort bike in other words. More specifically a Trek 7.5 FX. I went to Bike Barn and looked at what they had in stock. I hardly knew anything at all about bicycles so my decision-making process was rudimentary at best. The bike had good online reviews. Bike Barn had one in my size (more on this to come!) It felt okay as I rode it once around the parking lot. I liked the colour. While I was in the shop I did look at road bikes. Trek Madones and various Specialized bikes. I remember my eyes watering at the prices. If only I knew then what I was getting myself into that day.
I rode home on one of these:
My initial forays onto the streets of downtown Houston were exciting. One of my favorite routes was the Columbia Tap Rail toTrail. This was a paved trail that had been created along the path of a disused railroad route. The trail runs through the campus of Texas Southern University and through the Third Ward to Brays Bayou.
I would come home exhilarated at the fact that I had managed to ride 16 kilometers in only an hour. Sometimes I would ride along Brays Bayou to add a three or four more kilometres to my ride. I was a cyclist!
A rude shock was to come.