Joey Reyes loves speed and moving around: he enjoys jogging, goes cycling to improve his stamina and he even knows how to fly an airplane. A few years back, he even actively participated in motorcycle races.
But everything changed when he got into a freak accident and lost his left leg in 2016.
People thought that the accident occurred during one of his daredevil motorbike adventures. However, the unfortunate incident was caused by a careless valet parking attendant who sandwiched Joey’s leg between two vehicles.
“Na-ospital ako for almost a month and a half. Tapos umuwi ako sa bahay. On my first day, sabi ko sa sarili ko, ‘ano na gagawin ko sa buhay ko?’ Siguro isang buwan ako na-depress,” Joey told First Bike Ride. “Pero after noon sabi ko, ‘Tama na ito. Tatayo na ako.’”
It was mainly Joey who picked himself up from depression. His wife admitted to him that she didn’t give much help to Joey when he got back home because she wanted the husband to improve by himself and be independent.
Joey appreciated the wife’s strategy. He told us that if he became reliant on his wife, or on other people, his recovery could have been slower.
At first, he was on a wheelchair and eventually got crutches. After some time, he wore a prosthetic leg. There was a time when someone lent him a running blade so he could jog.
“Noong 2020, bago mag-pandemic, nag-decide na ako mag-bike ulit. Pero mga 2017 nagba-bike na ako gamit ‘yung folding bike,” he said. “Noong 2017 ko narealize na kaya ko pa mag-bike. Kasi dati natatakot ako dahil hindi ko pwede itukod pang-baba ‘yung prostethic leg.”
He added, “Dito-dito lang ako. Tapos noong pandemic, doon na ako lumalayo. Eventually, na-realize ko na nakikita ng ibang mga amputees na nagba-bike ako at gusto na rin nila sumama.”
This cyclist said that amputees need a lot of support and encouragement. Many of the people who lost their legs are not like Joey who easily recovered and moved on from life — others continue to suffer from depression and insecurity for years.
While Joey might seem better than others, he gets anxiety attacks from time to time. He had this even before losing his leg but it was amplified after the accident. He said that cycling makes him feel better whenever he’s anxious.
“May anxiety ako at nagjo-jogging ako dati para mawala. Kapag inattack ako ng anxiety, kailangan ko itakbo. Eh hindi na ako makatakbo ngayon. Kaya ako nag-bike,” he said. “Kapag nakaka-anxiety ako, nagba-bike ako tapos ayos na.”
“‘Yung nangyari sa akin, parang may recurring dream. Hindi na nakaalis ‘yung brain ko doon. Parang minsan, ma-anxious ako kaya para tumigil, iba-bike ko. Itong bike, malaking tulong sa akin tapos kapag nakalayo na ako, ang sarap. Nawawala yung stress.”
He likes cycling solo and prefers slow climbs like the uphill Ordones Avenue in Marikina. While he’s usually cycling along Marikina River Park to meet with some bike friends, he goes far too — he was able to bike to Rodriguez and Montalban in Rizal.
When he’s biking, he only pedals using his right leg. The side with the prosthetic body part is basically there to support him in walking after dismounting from the bicycle. Joey prefers folding bikes because it’s easier for him to mount than in those with bigger wheels.
“Sa una lang mahirap, pero lahat naman ng bagay mahirap sa una. Ang hurdle lang talaga ay ang pagbaba. Kailangan i-instill mo mentally na sa right leg palagi ang baba. Kasi sesemplang ka noon,” he said. “Sumemplang na ako. Tumigil ako bigla kasi nabangga ako. Eh hindi naman ako nakakababa kaagad. Minsan naman, pag-liko kong ganon, bigla akong titigil. Mag-ingat lang talaga kapag ganoon.”
Despite the struggles, he has managed to master art of cycling in one leg. And now, he enjoys biking, especially hanging out with cyclists along Marikina River Park. Joey continues to inspire other amputees too — that if he can do it, others can do it as well.
“I’m also amazed with myself na nagagawa ko siya. Pero siguro driven na rin to get away from being emotional sa nangyari,” he said.