Renee Interview - Part 2
My interview with Renee continues as we discuss her unlikely love story with her husband, a bicycle crash that left her with an artificial elbow, and how she overcame fear to continue riding.
What do you love about cycling?
I love cycling because you don’t just view things from a distance, you feel like you’re experiencing the place that you’re in. You’re right there: close to people, close to the ground, and you can stop at any moment. It’s so different from being in the container of a car.
What role did bicycling play when you met your husband?
When I first met David, we did not get along well. I was part of a four-person team in this global corporation that was interviewing him, and out of the four people I was the one who said, “We should NOT hire this guy.” I was twenty-two at the time, and now can see that I was repelled by him because I was attracted to him. Go figure!
"We had a rough start, I think because I was attracted to him and I was fighting that."
But everyone else loved him to pieces and my manager told me, “Renee, you’re going to be the mentor bringing him into the organization.” So we had a rough start, I think because I was attracted to him and I was fighting that.
How did you overcome that rough start?
At lunch one day, I asked the team, “Does anyone want to go for a run?”
David said, “I’ll go!”
I thought, “Oh, I meant anybody but David.”
We went for a run, and we were going around this big corner when he said something like, “You know, I get along with most everybody in my life... except for you.” I started cracking up … I loved his honesty. That was the beginning of great conversations with each other, and lo and behold we became the dearest of friends. We started talking about people we were dating, we started exercising together, we gave each other advice.
"He said something like, 'You know, I get along with most everybody in my life... except for you.'
I started cracking up... I loved his honesty."
About six months later, we were going to go on a bike ride. I rode over to David’s apartment and knocked on the door, and this really tall, beautiful woman opened the door, and she’s wearing his button-down shirt. Obviously they’d just awakened, and David was behind her, looking at me.
I started laughing, which is what I do when I get nervous, and said “Oh gosh, I’m sorry! I thought we had a bike date!” And I went speeding off. I was so uncomfortable.
Luckily, David was to. The incident created this new conversation between us, and we decided to find out what that was about. We started dating each other … Problem was, if you dated at our company, you would be fired.
At some point, we knew “we” were worth pursuing. So I went and told my manager—as a brand new leader myself—that I’m in love with someone on our team. She said, “Oh, you mean David Moorefield. We’ve all seen that coming for the last year.” So everybody around us knew. (laughs) “Your first assignment is to go find him another job.” So I did and about six months later we were married.
"Six months later, we were married."
How does cycling with David affect your relationship?
It’s not always easy, working together and being married as well. But in the cycling part of our life, we just get to be a couple experiencing the world together. And experiencing the world together is a thread of our relationship that I love.
Have you ever crashed?
Yes. Multiple times. I’ve got a metal elbow from one of those bike wrecks. We were in Fort Collins, and they have a bike library where you can just check out a bike, use it for the day, and bring it back. The brakes were grabby on the bike I got. So, here’s where my wreck was completely my fault: I should have, the moment I knew the brakes were bad, brought the bike back and exchanged the bike. I stayed on that bike for a week, and instead, got used to accommodating it worked.
"In Fort Collins... they have a bike library where you can just check out a bike, use it for the day, and bring it back."
On the last, day, we’re one mile from the bike library to bring the bikes back. We get to a stop light that turned yellow. David stops at it. I was behind him and should have been able to stop as well. When I put on the brakes, they grabbed so quickly that it was like someone had stuck a metal pole into my wheel. The bike stopped, I flew off it and into the intersection.
I must have stretched my right hand out to stop the fall, and just the force of hitting my palm, just the physics of it, shattered my radial head and broke my ulna in eight places. Really bad.
"I was with David, who is so calm and doesn't get derailed by crisis."
Oh my gosh, that’s awful!
There’s so many blessings in this story, though. Number one, I was with David, who is so calm, and doesn’t get derailed by crisis. Number two, I was less than a mile from the fourth-best orthopedic hospital in the US. Number three, no cars were coming. And number four, a good samaritan happened to be driving by with his big car and said, “Put her in the car, I’ll take you to the hospital!” Within ten minutes I was in the ER, and by the next day a metal elbow had been delivered from Denver, installed in my arm, and I was discharged.
That’s a pretty amazing turnaround, Renee.
It was an incredible turnaround. The healing process was awful, but I was back on the bike within 6 months.
Does your arm feel any different?
People say, “Oh you’re bionic!” but it doesn’t feel bionic: my arm actually doesn’t straighten anymore. In fact, I kept noticing that I was getting knee pains on my bike, and it was because the one arm is an inch shorter. I actually had to have my bike ergonomically re-fit so that the brakes on one side are a little bit closer so I don’t have to reach so far. My bike is completely set up to me, my idiosyncratic body. I don’t let anyone ride Ruby.
How do you mentally help yourself to get back on the bike after a crash like that?
I noticed all my concerns and anxieties about getting back on the bike, and then I say, “Yup, I hear you,”... then I got back on the bike anyway. So it’s as simple and as hard as witnessing the emotions and not being driven by them. Plus, being driven by something bigger, which is the joy that you get from being on a bicycle.
I don’t think it works to stuff those fears. I do remember flying off my bike in the wreck, and I do remember the pain of healing, but none of that is going to be my driver. Because if that became my driver then I wouldn’t do anything. Cycling has consequences. Living has consequences. Most of the consequences are extraordinarily wonderful, and some of them don’t feel too great, but that’s all part of life.
What inspires you to keep cycling?
A sense of adventure. Even the rides I do that are just around my house, there’s a sense of feeling empowered, of adventure, of getting from point A to point B. Most of our vacations are about exercising outside, whether hiking or cycling, and experiencing new places. We like being active, meeting new people, and being curious about what’s around the corner.
"There's a sense of feeling empowered, of adventure..."