The `Bent Life

By Jose A. Hernandez

Soon after I wrote my August (2003) column on Goal Setting, I started to think that my next column should focus on "motivational tips". Goal setting is a good thing and it really does work. In fact, a properly set goal can be quite motivating. Yet, most of us need a little boost from time to time to keep our spirits up, and more importantly, to keep us from straying too far from our chosen fitness path. Since Iíve managed to stay pretty motivated for a number of years, I figured that it would be fairly easy for me to come up with list of motivational tips. I soon found out that this was not what I was after. The list of motivational tips I came up with was as stimulating as a sleeping pill. Clearly, I needed to come up with something different. What I really wanted to do was to identify the one or two motivational tips that would really make a difference. This idea kept circling in my head for about three weeks but I wasnít going anywhere with it. Then, it happened! My article on motivation came to a SCREAMING halt - I mean that literallyÖ really! In the early hours of September 11th my beloved appendix suddenly burst spilling all of its putrid contents into my peritoneal area. My appendectomy, the surgeon explained, was " a simple routine procedure". This of course would have been true if my appendix had behaved properly. Regrettably, nobody bothered to tell my appendix to keep its contents to itself. To make a long nightmarish story short, the next 11 days were spent in a hospital bed fighting a nasty case of peritonitis, respiratory distress from too much fluids pressing against my diaphragm, a nasty electrolyte imbalance and a severe case of colitis, compliments of Clostridium Difficile, an opportunistic hospital bug. During this time my belly got so big; I could have qualified as the first 9-month pregnant man on planet earth. My previous physical conditioning quickly vanished as I found that I could barely walk for days. Those little tasks we take from granted like going to the bathroom or keeping food down turned out to be pure torture. At times, things were so bad; I thought I would not live to tell about it.

Luckily, I had two families at my side: My immediate family, was at my bed site around the clock, giving me comfort and emotional support and, numerous members of my local bent family, The South Florida Recumbent Riders visited me, phoned me or emailed me on a daily basis. These good bent folks kept checking up on me, wishing me a speedy recovery, reminding me of all the good times we had with our recumbent bikes in the past and challenging me to get healthy fast so I could enjoy even better bent times in the future. Because of this, while still in the hospital, I would often dream about being outside pedaling or simply enjoying a picnic with my two families. Needless to say, this experience strengthened the love I feel for my family, and gave me a renewed appreciation for the bent life and the folks who live it.

The support I got from my bent community did not stop when I left the hospital 11 days later. The phone calls and visits continued non-stop for two months boosting my spirit and encouraging me to get better fast, and regain my lost fitness/endurance so that I could once again be with my bent buddies. I could barely walk after I got out of the hospital but I found that I could sit in my Wiz Trike and slowly move around the house Ė something that I did for a few days. My trike became my rehabilitation vehicle. My 30 feet rides in the living room soon turned into a mile ride around the neighborhood and within a few weeks I was riding 10 miles in relative comfort. My bent group came to my rescue once more and organized a couple of very slow rides for me. They rode at my slow level and often stopped when I was in pain or had to run to a nearby restroom every time the "after-effects" of my severe colitis would act up. I continued to get better and two months after I got out of the hospital I was able to complete a slow (15MPH) metric century. I have my bent buddies to thank for this. Right after this ride, my friend Joe Keenan told our bent group: "Jose did not have an appendix removed, he had an afterburner installed". I donít know about my having an "afterburner installed" but something did get implanted into my psyche. I seem to have a renewed appreciation for life and I feel more motivated than ever to be the best bent-person I can be. I can honestly tell you that Iím totally committed and super motivated to not only regain my lost level of fitness but to become a lot stronger. My immediate goals include one metric century per week in December, a full Century on Jan 4th, 2004 and my first Brevet (124 miles) on January 11th 2004. To accomplish this I plan to ride at least 4-5 times per week and visit the weight room 2-3 times per week. Oh yeah! - Iím supercharged with the happiness of being healthy again and super motivated by my chosen `bent style!

It is now clear to me that a list of motivational tips is not what we need. What I think we need is quite simply, to live the `Bent Life". But of course, living the `Bent Life" is not just about owning and riding a recumbent bike. It is also about sharing this experience with others. It is about sharing our bent smile with the world. It is about being fascinated with the mechanical wonders and the beauty of our reclined machines. It is about making new friends and realizing that most bent folks qualify as the nicest group of people that youíll ever meet. It is about sharing our sport with our immediate family and giving them the opportunity to enjoy our sport, if this is what they wish to do. It is about sharing what weíve learned about cycling, health and fitness. It is about learning about cycling, health and fitness from each other. It is about visiting `BentRider Onlineís site or exploring numerous bent pages in the web. It is about organizing a bent group in your area or being an active member of a bent group.

The bent life is about riding in a group or riding alone. It is about getting up early in the morning and enjoying the sunrise from the comfort of our recumbent seats or riding late at night under the cover of a star-spangled sky. It is about being thankful for our life and our health and thankful for our family and friends. It is about living in the present. The bent life is about "sucking the marrow out of life! *" It is about enjoying life to its fullest.

So you see, you donít need and you wonít get a list of motivational tips from me. All you need is simply to live the "`Bent Life". The "`Bent Life" is, in and of itself, a source of ALL the motivation any one can ever need and, more importantly, it is about enhancing the quality of our lives.


*Henry David Thoreau,