In 1991, on a country road a few miles outside Wichita, Kansas, two late twenties, thirty-something bike riders were on an early morning training ride.
A 1978 Olds Cutlass with a driver asleep at the wheel, crossed into the bike rider’s lane and hit them head on.
Multiple bones were broken, limbs were almost severed, and it is a miracle the two did not bleed to death.
Somehow both cyclists remained conscious during this ordeal, and lay in the road talking to each other. Trey Hall and Ken Calwell did survive, and after many months of reconstructive surgery, and physiotherapy, both made a full recovery and got back on their bikes.
An event like this would have killed most people, but one of the reasons Trey and Ken did not die was because they were young super fit bike riders, and the work ethic learned from training on a bike, made them both work harder on their recovery.
Forward more than twenty years after this terrible crash, and Trey Hall has written a book. It is a quite thin little book of 135 pages. An inspirational work that every cyclist should read. Non cyclists should read it too, but I doubt that anyone who has not seriously turned a pedal would understand or get quite as much from the book. For example this passage:
I am the definition of an amateur cyclist; old and slow with a stable of really nice bikes. I ride because I enjoy how it makes me feel. I love the knowledge that I can do hard things. When I am on the bike, unlike when I am in other situations, I can inflict my own pain and afterwards celebrate it.
No one but a real cycling enthusiast could understand the true meaning of those words. It has to be experienced to know that feeling.
When the publishers of this book contacted me, and asked if I would like a review copy, I wondered if I wanted to read another book by a bike rider I didn’t know. But the ordeal of the crash, and the message of “Get back on the bike,” was reason alone for me to check it out.
It turns out the crash itself occupies only a handful of pages, and a few more devoted to the recovery. Most of the book is about life lessons learned while riding a bike.
Trey Hall turned the event into something positive, and moved on from there. The positive is this: Without the crash there would be no reason for Trey to write a book, and certainly no reason for anyone to read it.
Without the terrible suffering and recovery, the positive message in this book would be lost, or rather not exist in the first place. The book is well written, full of bike riding stories and anecdotes, some that will make you smile, always entertaining.
My one small criticism of the book is in the Foreword written by the other survivor of the crash, Ken Calwell. It is only four pages long, but Ken includes quotes from the Bible, and writes about God and Jesus. Just as when I meet any stranger who starts talking religion I immediately feel very uncomfortable.
This is not a criticism of Ken Calwell, or his beliefs, it is more a criticism of the editors. Had I picked up this book in a book store, these few references would have been enough to make me stop reading, put the book down, and dismiss it as a Christian publication.
However, I had agreed to review this book so I read on, and I am so pleased that I did. The rest of the book does not follow this same tone. If like me such references make you squirm, just skip the four page foreword and read the rest of the book.
Both Trey Hall and Ken Calwell went on with their careers to become successful executives in the business world. Anyone following a similar career path would most definitely benefit from reading this book. Plus as previously mentioned, a must read for any cyclist.