Two Years and Two Days

Two years and two days ago, a dumb maneuver on my mountain bike left me with a torn ACL. I had no idea how that moment would ripple through my life.

Forget cycling – Immediately, I was out of my job as a carpenter. I couldn’t walk, never mind climb ladders. It was a month before I was able to hobble around the jobsite. That said, I did enjoy sitting on my porch and reading for a couple of weeks. Not being able to afford food was troubling though…

Diligence with PT had me walking well and working by August, but I couldn’t see how I’d ever get back to normal without surgery. That was planned for September, and then pushed back to October by the insurance company (I’m still not sure why – Perhaps they hoped I might die in the interim and save them the money?) I knew the surgery would have me on my ass for a month, and I needed a revenue stream. A chance encounter with an old colleague led me into a pile of writing work for This Old House’s website. I reached out to Fine Homebuilding and landed even more writing work.

The surgery went well, and the PT went even better. It wasn’t long before the therapists recognized me as a patient they could challenge, and I actually came to enjoy the sessions.

I was healing, and being a professional writer would have made my mother proud. But the money from writing didn’t wholly replace what I’d been making as a carpenter. By January I’d been out of work for two months. I was able to go back, but the company I’d been with didn’t seem to need me.

Wondering what my next move was, I asked an old friend who had a remodeling business if knew of anyone looking for a lead carpenter. It turned out that he was, but that the better solution was to become partners.

And here we are. Two years and two days later, I’m almost back to my pre-ACL-tear mountain biking abilities. The remaining disability is in my head, not my knee. I’m delighted with my working situation. And I’m still writing for Fine Homebuilding (I’m a contributing editor there now – an honorarium mainly).

Tearing my ACL led to a series of events that improved my life.

Who knew?

About swampyankeecyclist

I'm Andy Engel, just a middle-aged, middle-class guy from Roxbury, Connecticut. I've been married to my best friend since 1988, and we have two grown sons. I like riding bikes, and my biggest accomplishment is the 180K D2R2. I own 5 bikes but my go-to rides are a 2016 GT Grade gravel and commuter bike and a 2016 Specialized 650b hardtail mountain bike. Additionally, I have a 2000-something carbon-fiber Orbea road bike, a 1990-something Specialized Sirrus that's my old dirt and commuter bike and which now serves as a spare and a trainer bike, and a 1985 Ross Mount Hood MTB. All but the 650b have Brooks saddles. I work from home now, but used to commute 32 miles round trip to work by bike year round. I was a carpenter and still love building things, but regular paychecks, insurance, and vacation time lured me into journalism. I've written a couple of books on carpentry, and I've been an editor at Fine Homebuilding, Fine Woodworking, and Professional Deck Builder magazines. Currently, I manage construction events at the JLC Live and Remodeling Show trade shows. Additionally, my wife and I run Transylvania Guest House, an Airbnb. Find us on Instagram. Come stay with us and I'll show you some great cycling.
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1 Response to Two Years and Two Days

  1. Mike Guertin says:

    The rear view mirror is often has less fog on it than the windshield. Thinking back a year before that when you left JLC – a good choice personally but an even better choice when considering the pandemic shut down on the expos.

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