My father, Richard, sustained a variety of severe injuries in Vietnam, the worst of which resulted in one of his ankles becoming fused in a fixed position. He is essentially walking on his tippy toes at all times, making the basic functions of standing and walking very painful and the medium of running nearly impossible.
However, riding a bike, with some adjustments (no cleats, for example), could be done and when I was in high school he began to take on riding as a daily activity. His enjoyment of cycling was contagious and I eventually started riding (sporadically) as well. Some time during my senior year I asked him if he wanted to do a two-day charity ride from Houston to Austin: the annual MS150.
He was up for the challenge and we both developed separate training plans. His involved things like workouts and long rides, while mine primarily involved nonchalance and overconfidence. He would do these 70-80 mile rides on the Braes Bayou bike path in Houston which seems amazing boring in hindsight.
Eventually the moment of truth came and we set off on one oddly cold April morning for Austin. I found myself repeatedly getting dropped by father; didn't seem to matter that he wore baggy shorts and tennis shoes. When you can ride, you can ride.
However, he would always look back and let me catch up at the appropriate times. He even sat patiently about 5 miles from the finish line as I pounded cookies while learning about bonking the hard way.
I always look back on that weekend with a smile. My dad taught me a lot of lessons without any intentions of even doing so.
This year I am honoring my Dad by helping to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project in conjunction with Ironman Texas in May. Please consider donating (link below) to this great cause that helps many wounded veterans in their new chapter in life.