LASIK EYE SURGERY MY RIDING DAYS ARE OVER
A few years ago I succumbed to temptation and got Lasik eye surgery. At first I was rapt, looking forward to heading into the bush without the face furniture or contact lenses. My first few rides made me a little uncomfortable. I was finding my new vision wasn’t serving me like I’d hoped, but because I’d been told that the old eyeballs would take a while to settle down after the surgery I wasn’t too fussed. I’d soon get used to it. The problem was that it had suddenly become tricky to distinguish outlines between light and dark shapes. I couldn’t reliably tell if something was a tree root or just a shadow. A rock or merely an odd-coloured patch of dirt. And riding from bright light into mottled shadows gave me the yips too. I was flinching, mostly unnecessarily, but I was certainly riding slower than I usually would. The problem didn’t go away. Thanks to the surgery it had become dangerous for me to ride at the speed I was used to, even on my familiar tracks. I began to develop a kind of background anxiety, never really certain whether my speed, balance or attitude was right for the approaching terrain. I was permanently bracing for impact. As frustrated as I was I kept riding because I love it so much – mountain biking was pretty much my only hobby at that time. Sure, I’d become a bit slower but that didn’t matter too much because I was just a weekend warrior and mostly rode alone anyway. And I just didn’t want to let it beat me. Until it did. After a terrific ride at my local track in the Meehan Range just outside of Hobart, I was cruising home down an easy four-wheel-drive track that led to the road home. The tough bit of the ride was over. It was a gentle incline and I guess I was doing 35 kays or so when I steered for a tiny washout on the side of the trail to get a final bit of air before the boring pedal home on the tarmac. It wasn’t a washout after all, but a jump that’d clearly been built by some local kids. A short, sharp mound of clay to be tackled at a way slower speed than what I was doing. Clueless, I hit the thing with completely the wrong attitude, and my dual-suspension Genius 20 sent me into space, and then into the far edge of the hole from which the jump had been excavated. The result of the extremely sudden stop was a badly dislocated shoulder and a rib broken in two places (front and back) plus a whole lot of bark off my back. The skin grew back, but despite a heap of physio my right-hand side has never been the same. The experience gave me a case of the permanent willies, and I haven’t ridden since. So if you’re into mountain bikes (or dirt bikes or skateboarding or trail running) think hard before you commit to laser eye surgery. For normal folk with normal hobbies Lasik might be just fine, but if you need quick eyeballs like we do you might regret it.