ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A bike crash 21 years ago changed Michael O’Brien’s life forever. He was told he would likely never ride a bike again. Now, he’s back on his bike and riding across the country to honor the New Mexico doctors who helped save his life.
O’Brien was in town on a business trip at the Tamaya Resort when he decided to go for a bike ride before a meeting. Less than an hour later, his life was changed forever when he crashed head-on with an SUV. “I was knocked unconscious but I remember almost everything about that morning with the sound of me hitting his truck and into the windshield I went,” said OBrien.
He was airlifted to the University of New Mexico Hospital and the prognosis was bad. “The doctors told my wife, had your husband been 10 years older and not in shape, he certainly would have died before I got to the hospital,” said OBrien.
He had several broken bones, a shattered femur, and a lacerated femoral artery in his leg. “I went pretty dark pretty quickly. And I thought the whole thing was really unfair. And, and I felt that way for quite some time until I had my little a-ha and I came out of it and you know, the rest has been like this 20 year, 21-year-old journey,” he said.
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After 12 surgeries including a total knee replacement, OBrien was determined to get back on his bike. This summer, he is riding across the country, starting in Astoria, Oregon and ending in Yorktown, Virginia, all to celebrate his full recovery and to honor the doctors, nurses, and staff at UNMH who helped get him this far.
His wife and their two dogs follow behind him in an RV. “If I can go to bed each night my wife and daughters are in my life. If I can’t call the whole day a bad one. You know, I’ve had plenty of bad moments since that day, but not a bad day,” he said.
OBrien is trying to spread kindness and the power of gratitude along the way while reminding people to slow down. “I think we’re going too quickly, where we’re rushing through life, we’re not living it. And when you’re rushing, you can’t see here and love each other like you like I think we need to right now, “said OBrien.
After each ride, OBrien posts an update on social media for his followers. He also highlights a charity, non-profit, or organization including the UNM Health Sciences Center. He is in Wyoming right now, when its all said and done, he’ll go through ten states and travel 4,300 miles.