Paul’s Story

A dream, an Accident, Posttraumatic Growth, and a Human Powered Trip Around the World: 

In 2015, I knew I wanted to do an extended bike tour. I had spent the previous 24 months saving basically my entire salary while working as an Electrical Engineer building Wind farms and Solar Farms. (Renewable Energy is happening in a big way) I had gone on a few week long bike tours but a long tour is what I dreamed of.

Then in Colorado I discovered rock climbing and started to climb as much as possible. I re-oriented my goal of a long bike tour and started to set my eyes on a higher goal…  climbing The Nose in Yosemite, some would argue it’s the most iconic climbs in the world. To complete it would take years of dedicated training, but it was epic, hard, and definitely worth doing.

In June 2016, while rock climbing in Yosemite National Park where the Nose is located. A climber above me who I did not know was there dropped ~150 lbs of climbing gear ~150 ft and it landed on me. I was able to get mostly out of the way, but the bag crushed my arm. The impact was equivalent to a small car speeding 60 miles an hour head on into a brick wall sandwiching my arm.

What happened next involved shattered bones, a helicopter evacuation, open wounds, infection, implanted metal, nine surgeries, medical bills, and hours upon hours of physical therapy.

The accident is written up here.

I am extremely lucky to be alive, there were at least five brushes with death due to the initial trauma and subsequent complications.

There is a concept a friend told me about called Posttramatic Growth it is: a positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning.

I have PTSD from the accident, rock climbing went from something I did all the time to something that makes me fell like I am going to die.

With the help of an amazing cast of family, friends, doctors, and physical therapists, I slowly started to piece together a new way to live. It took over 1.5 years, over 30 days in intensive care in the hospital, and four separate surgeons in three states, but in the end I got to keep my arm.

In November, 2017 I had my final surgery. All the metal was removed from my arm, the nasty infection that the doctors thought might be in my bones still was gone. I was in the clear. As I internalized no future surgeries my outlook on adventure started to go global. My plans to cycle the world had started to re-kindle. For me Posttratmatic growth involves exploring new horizons, meeting and building community, and that for me right now is best done via a long bike trip.

Jumping back a bit, while on a bike tour in Spain in 2015 a friend sent me a link to I was memorized, bikepacking combines backpacking with bikes, that is awesome.

In 2016 in the bikepacking world, The Baja Divide a 1,700 mile long off road mountain bike route in the Baja of Mexico was first posted to the world. I can distinctly remember while in intensive care in the hospital thinking that it was unlikely for me to be healed up enough to go rock climbing, but I could go mountain biking by January… that would have been 6 months post accident…  how long does it take for a broken arm to heal? … I could ride the Baja. Fast forward 6 months to January and my hand was still attached but barely. Around that time I took a video of me closing my hand because it was a triumph at the time. people who ride the Baja don’t post pictures of them closing their hand … I had a long way to go.

Fast forward past a lot of surgeries and physical therapy.

In November, 2017 while on on a trail run in Boulder, CO I realized I could ride the Baja this year. All of my surgeries are done, the infection is gone, I was free …

The trip starts with the Baja Divide then will morph into a human powered trip around the world, the details are in the process of being worked out.

Stay tuned for photos and updates.