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I was 53-years-old at the time of my accident; happy, healthy and very fit. 

I had previously completed 5 Ironman triathlons, tons of marathons, I surfed, hiked, swam, cycled, backpacked, skied black diamond trails, and other adventurous pursuits.

Then I experienced a freak mountain bike crash that shattered my entire neck. Upon a mountain, found by my friend, helicopter landing on the mountain with a 10-minute weather window to save me, then the physical damage-entire neck shattered. I started out with a massive surgery, had a spinal cord injury, could not stand/walk and wake up in the ICU with 16 titanium screws and 2 rods holding my neck together. 

Now I’m hearing the doctors say “we need to see if you can stand and take a few steps.” For me, the shock and trauma were real. Very real. What happened? How did I get here? I quickly realized that my recovery journey from this point wasn’t going to be easy or fun and it certainly introduced me to new levels of pain that I never thought possible. I’ve learned firsthand, starting out is the toughest. It can be embarrassing, painful, and overwhelming, but worth every ounce of pain and effort, and mental work to ‘reset’ ourselves.


Where do I go from here? I’m a dad; I have a job, but my life just changed. I had only one choice and that was to pick up the pieces and move forward. 

I simply don’t make excuses and did 14 months of very difficult physical therapy and I’m proud to say, I GOT MY LIFE BACK. Altered, yes, but it was still my life to live and I’m going to live it to the fullest.

There are paths we’re supposed to follow or ways in which we think our life will go but what happens when there’s an unexpected event that forces us to pivot? What do we do? This is about sharing some lifelessons I’ve learned from my comeback after that mountain bike accident. We only get one life. Why not work together to help write the best life story we possibly can? Here, Richhasfun, you get to share and learn my lessons on bouncingback.

~Rich Haggerty



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