By: Cody M. Sisson
Anyone that has listened to the show has heard Matt and Jose give me a hard time about my old, broken down body. We laugh about, and openly mock, my inability to walk because of my two surgically repaired achilles tendons. But, what we don’t talk about is the toll it has taken on me, both mentally and physically. We don’t talk about it on the show, because let’s face it, that part isn’t funny, and our goal is to make you laugh and have a good time. With that said, I also want to be genuine about who I am and what I bring to the show every week.
The background here is that I grew up as a very active athlete. You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now, but I played football and baseball well in to my 20’s. I surfed, skated, rode dirt bikes, and loved the outdoors. Even in my late 30’s, when I met Tami, I was going to the gym at least 5 days a week. And you know what, I felt good about it. There was a decent amount of my self-confidence attributed to my physical capabilities. That is until I got in to my 40’s. I started having pain in my left ankle, and it was constant. Even when I wasn’t doing anything active, it hurt, but I took the old-school, blue-collar, “rub some dirt on it” approach that my father taught me and I just kept powering through. I was told that it was tendonosis, but I thought I could work hard enough to get through it. At 44 years old, I ruptured my right achilles tendon while trying to play flag-football with some buddies. That’s right, the right ankle, not the the left ankle that had been giving me pain for years prior. Are you kidding me?
So, in 2017, the downward spiral started. I had reconstructive surgery on the now ruptured right ankle. I went through re-hab while still fighting through the pain in my left ankle. In 2019, when my right ankle was strong enough, I had surgery to repair the tendonosis in the left ankle. Again, went through re-hab. The problem is that after almost a full year, the ankle still hurts….almost constantly. As you can imagine, my physical activity and exercise over the last few years has come to a complete halt, and with it, a good portion of how I felt about my personal worth.
I have been struggling to find a way to be active without having to endure any more pain in my ankle than necessary. I am going to start the process of doctors visits, rehabilitation, and all of the other crap on my left ankle all over again, but in the mean time, I want to get out and do something. I want to feel the exhilaration of exercise and a sense of accomplishment. I don’t want to be gasping for breath after going up a flight of stairs. Dammit, I want to get some physical fitness back in my life through exercise and outdoor adventuring.
In order to get myself off the couch and in to the world, I finally pulled the trigger on a new Gravel Bike. What is a Gravel Bike? It is a bike that has the riding position of a Road Bike (drop handle bars and low riding position) with a flexier frame and wider tires to handle some dirt trails without being a full-on Mountain Bike. Think of it as the daily driver rig you take out on the trails on the weekend. It’s not a sports car, but it’s not a rock crawler either. This is my new do-it-all-adventure-cycle. After a whole lot of research (yes, there were spreadsheets involved), I landed on the REI Co-Op ADV 2.2 bike. The bike was way out of my initial price range, but due to COVID, there is a major shortage of bicycles and bicycle components all over the world. The cheaper bikes went quickly and I was told that they “may” be back in stock at the end of the year. I didn't want to wait any longer.
I picked-up the bike on July 3, 2020. In the 11 days since, I have ridden 79 miles in 6 hours, 22 minutes. Seventy Nine Miles! If you had asked me a month ago if I could ride 79 miles, I would have said absolutely not, no matter how long you gave me to do it. And, while it definitely feels like a workout, I am absolutely loving it. I try to ride early in the morning before my wife and daughter get up and I have been picking routes with a random variation of streets and hard-packed dirt roads. It’s been fun. I get to feel like I am pushing myself physically and I can do it without “much” pain. It still hurts, but it is manageable. While I ride and watch the sun come up, I get the chance to think, to feel the blood rushing through my body again, and for the first time in a long time, I feel proud to have accomplished something physical in nature. I know I’m not winning any races or completing any “Tour De Whatevers,” but this is the most activity I have been able to do in a long time and I’ll take the win for now.
Why does this matter, Cody? Why are you telling me about your bad ankles and a bicycle on your offroad blog. Well, dear reader, because it speaks to the core of the Trailchasers mission; “Inspire others to go out and chase their adventure.” We have never limited the definition of adventure to just offroad vehicles, and we never will. Adventure can be any type of vehicle, hiking, climbing, water sports, or bike riding. For a long time, I felt like my ability to exercise and “adventure” was hampered because of some physical limitations. It took me a long time to figure out a way to get over the hurdle, mentally and physically. Part of it was that I didn’t want to spend the money on an expensive bike, especially if I didn’t like riding it. But now, I wish I had done it two years ago. I wish I had not let my ankles be an excuse to keep me on the couch.
I don’t claim to be a motivator or fitness guru. I can only speak to my experiences on this earth and everyone has differing obstacles to overcome. But, if someone were to ask, I would say this; Regardless of limitations, there is something you can do. Regardless of your situation, there is a step you can take. Regardless of how you feel, there is a part of you that can overcome it. Regardless of who you are today, you can still shape the you of tomorrow. You just gotta take the first step to get there.
I hope that my passion for riding grows and I stick with it for the long term. I want to be able to ride fifty, sixty, maybe even seventy miles each week. It is going to be a challenge, both physically and in how I manage my time, but right now, I am up for that challenge. Right now, I want to be more than I have been lately and this two-wheeled torture contraption may just be the key to me accomplishing it. So, If you want to do something more, put on some spandex, strap on a helmet, and join me for ride.