Riding again after being hit by a car

Bill Wiseman stared at his minivan in the empty Huntersville parking lot last fall for several minutes, weighing his options.

His right foot on the ground, his left still resting on the pedal after a quick four-mile bike ride, the avid cyclist realized he was in a predicament he hadn't faced in his 35 years of cycling.

Pressing the key fob to open the hatch, he skipped his right foot along the ground, rolling the wheels of his bike until they reached the end of the car.

Once there, he let himself fall off the bike and into the car.

Whoever said that a person never forgets how to ride a bike hasn't had his left side greeted by the chrome of a car bumper at a high rate of speed, like Wiseman did a year earlier.

His fingers, hand, wrist, pelvis, hip, femur and knee all fractured in one blow the day after Thanksgiving 2008. A motorist turning left struck Wiseman's oncoming bicycle in Rowan County. The motorist said he never saw the bike.

"The right leg does 70 percent of the work," said Wiseman of his body's limitations now. The left just doesn't remember anymore.

"I couldn't pick my left leg up to get it on the pedal. I couldn't move my leg up and down."

That day in the parking lot, his first time on a bike since the accident, Wiseman received a dose of reality on the obstacles ahead.

But they haven't stopped the King's Crossing resident from burning through exercises seven days a week at the nearby YMCA, eager to strengthen his body so he can ride longer.

"I wouldn't get better if I didn't put in the effort."

His bones have healed, or at least are sturdy thanks to the steel erected by surgeons. The nerves are the problem now.

Wiseman's lower leg, from his knee down, remains in a perpetual sleep. His foot suffers from continuous electroshocks.

"Everything that was in that leg needs to reconnect," said Wiseman of the nerves.

Doctors say this may take two years. It also may never happen.

He doesn't let that stop him. Wiseman spent eight weeks in the hospital after the accident.

Days passed before doctors could determine whether he would be paralyzed.

"The minute I found out I wouldn't be, I started taking incremental steps," he said.

Although he walks with a limp these days, he has evolved from needing a wheelchair to a walker, and now a cane, which he keeps in his car just in case.

With continuing training, he intends to cycle from Portland, Ore., to the beaches of North Carolina in 2011 with a tent, sleeping bag and enough essentials to fit on his bike.

The accident left him with fear, but not of being hit by another car.

"My biggest fear is falling." He can't count on his left leg to help out much if he starts to topple.

It's ironic, in the parking lot his first time back on his bike after the accident, that's exactly what he had to do.

"You can't live in fear," he said.