#ConquerAsOne Entry: Elrine Oostehuizen

Michael Finch |

Erick and Elrine racing before the accident. – Image Supplied

This is an entry to the Absa Cape Epic #ConquerAsOne competition, submitted and written by Elrine Oostehuizen.

“So that’s it for our cycling days”

My husband woke up after his fourth visit to theatre since this accident. He was scheduled for reconstructive surgery on his right foot, our first glimmer of hope since the start of this horrendous climb. However, the doctor phoned and made it clear that his life was in danger, as his foot was septic.

Without looking at the sheets where his missing foot should have been I responded with big chain ring confidence: “That is not true my Love. We WILL ride again.”

Five weeks in ICU, five days on a ventilator, 14 fractures, one temporarily paralysed upper limb, one missing leg, 10 visits in theatre, a wheelchair, three months in hospital, two weeks in rehab, numerous falls and endless medical bills – that pretty much sums up Erick’s 2016!

Erick’s recovery process. – Image Supplied

Life has forced us onto an unplanned, compulsory portage section. Can this really be? I mean, we are good people. We don’t do drugs and we stick to the speed limit…. Okay, not necessarily on the tandem but at least in the car. The seven week old twins were forced onto bottle feeds and our eldest four year old was forced into more independence. The life we used to know has become only a memory and our flowing single track came to an abrupt stop. Finding new momentum became our ultimate goal in the year that followed.

During our ten years of marriage we have filled our daily lives with many hours in the saddle. That’s our passion, that’s our love, that is how we do life. Our life in the saddle kicked off with our engagement at the start of the racing tandems of the 2005 Cycle Tour. This was followed by a couple of years riding on the tandem racing scene covering many kilometres of tar in the city of Gold. Since living in Cape Town we have discovered the trails and mountains and we have enjoyed a number of multi day stage races on our MTB’s. Memories we’ll cherish for life. Time together, while constantly ticking away at the odometer of our cycling lives. That’s how we rolled. Life was good; the trails were smooth with berms in all the right places. Cycling was taken away in the wink of an eye and yet with all the compounded challenges we now face it is cycling itself that has become our means of overcoming adversity. Ironic, don’t you think?

Erick gets back in the saddle with his family post-accident. – Image Supplied

Upon meeting Erick’s prosthetist we made it very clear from day one that we need a cycling prosthesis. The process was frustratingly slow but we managed our first ride about a year after the accident. It was terrible and yet one of the most victorious rides ever. No start banner, no timing mats, no spectators, no water points, no medals, no podium, no prize money, just the two of us back on our bikes trying to honour our ICU discussion many months ago. Probably a long shot but can we tick this one off as the prologue for the rest of our cycling days to come?

Tandem riding, only a girlie dream many years ago, but my dearest hubby helped make it come true. He took my dream way beyond just completing one tandem CycleTour.

Life has dealt us a new season and it’s time to adjust our riding style and aim for my husband’s dream now – an Absa Cape Epic! The jealous wife in me cannot imagine anyone else next to my dearest husband at the start line. This competition can help us realise our dream. We WILL ride again!

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