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« A different way to lube a chain | Main | Resurrected »

Get back on your bike

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and when it does sometimes these good people become even stronger and better people as a result.

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.


Pedal Forward: The 10 life and business lessons I have learned from my bike. By Trey Hall. Published by Cairn Publishing Denver LLC.

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Reader Comments (7)

Thanks for reviewing this book, Dave. I just bought it, and will report my thoughts here when I'm done.

Also, thanks for mentioning the issues you had with the Foreword. I would also have been put off by any overt religiosity, and I'm glad that I now have reason to get past that point.

October 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohann

Getting back on the bike is always a good idea but the life lessons I've leaned is that we hand out driving privileges too easily and renewal policies should require additional standards as we age. We also promote too much junk food (thus we have become an obese nation) and pills over healthier lifestyles. Read more about the lawsuit Calwell & Hall filed re. actionable negligence:

Dr Hassan ruled out the possibility that Rylant had narcolepsy, based on her history and the lack of associated symptoms.

On the day of the accident, Rylant knew that she had a problem with drowsiness and that it was getting worse.

October 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

Thanks for the tip on this book. I am 10 months into my own recovery from a bike-dog crash. Tibial plateau fracture; crushed, displaced, splintered, plate and 5 screws later. Months of the most painful rehab I've ever experienced. Exploded the cartilage on the lateral side. Now wear an off-loading brace when I walk anywhere. My running days are done. Since all other options (save a rowing machine) were going to shorten the time to a full knee replacement, for someone who knows "inflicting pain and celebrating it," getting back on a bike was actually the thing that would save me. Ironic. The very thing that provided the context for the disaster, is the same thing that helps me keep my sense of self and my sanity. I look forward to the authors insights.

Oh, and miraculously I barely bumped the dog's butt. She emerged utterly unscathed.

October 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbystander

That is a great quote and this is a good review. It makes me want to go read the book. Thanks!

October 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterleroy

Thank you for this compelling review.
I am looking forward to reading it and sharing with my son, an avid racer.
I must add that I am surprised that you are put off by a mere 4 pages that mention Ken's faith beliefs.

October 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam

Having finished the book, I want to thank you, Dave, for recommending it.

Here are my thoughts on it: You were right about the religious references: they would have put me off reading the book if I wasn't already warned that the book was not all like the Foreward. Still, there was a bit too much religious reference in the book (obvious or implied) for my taste.

I don't fault the author for writing what he believes, and I think that, for the most part, he was remarkably restrained. It was only at the tenth lesson that he brought god into it, front and center.

I liked the conversational tone set throughout the book. The lessons are not original, as Trey himself points out, but his straightforward way of presenting them made them more accessible to me than some business books I've read.

It's obvious that he didn't write this with a general business audience or a universal cycling audience in mind. He points out through the book that he wrote this for his 'progeny' - which means they would be of the same religious and cultural background as he is, and they would probably appreciate the religious references more than I do.

It is just too much on the borderline of appropriate for a secular workplace for me to suggest it as a book club discussion book. That's sad, as I think it is a lot more readable than some of the books we've discussed.

October 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohann

Jeez, with all the hundreds of thousands of people dying in the third world and babies with life threatening diseases, Ken thinks god is keeping a special eye over his privileged life?

That's one of the problems with god people, the narcissism and irrationality. Thanks for calling it out.

November 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarz
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