Patrick Mayers is still pondering how he suffered a stroke when he was only 40 years old.
Eight years later, his right leg is still a little numb, especially if he’s been sitting for too long. He always favors his right arm, learning to use his left hand for jobs that require finer dexterity.
His speech is also still a little muddled. He jokes that he has to enter dates into his cell phone, using his left hand, so he remembers. He said he was forgetting in a way he didn’t do before the stroke.
There are a lot of “still images” of stroke. But there are also a lot of new things in her life because of it. One of these new features is benefiting many people who use the mountain bike trail at Whispering Pines in Inverness.
But it’s been a long road from stroke to cleaning up debris on the popular 2.5 km long wooden trail that he and a few others maintain for cyclists to enjoy.
He doesn’t let stroke damage get in the way of his efforts.
“I was in the Marine Corps. I don’t know the word ‘stop’, ”he told The Chronicle.
He also only experienced the joys of riding after the stroke or the joy it brings others to recovering a bike path that has not been maintained for years.
This is how Mayers saved part of his life with a wooded trail in Whispering Pines Park and a bicycle. He also wants others to join him, become a member of Citrus Shredders, the group of mountain bikers he formed, and help maintain the trail that so many other riders enjoy.
He’s an adamant cyclist, but he still thinks of stroke sometimes.
“I still don’t know why I got it,” Mayers told The Chronicle of the stroke. “I didn’t even know I had one.”
He had returned to Inverness from Illinois where he owned a small business collecting metal for resale.
“I was in bed and when I woke up I felt weak. My wife said to go to the hospital, ”he said. “I had a mini-stroke. I had the full-blown stroke in the hospital.
The stroke happened on the left side of his brain, which means it affected the right side of his body.
After the stroke, he said he was determined to get better. He received physical therapy and slowly improved.
But with the stroke, he lost his driver’s license, he said, and couldn’t drive.
So he did the next best thing by trying to be mobile and a little independent.
In 2014, he borrowed his 14-year-old son’s bicycle.
He jokes about the way he dragged his right leg and that his left leg did most of the work.
Mayers biked five days a week, but not far. But 15 minutes to 30 minutes a day to begin with, which allowed him to get out of his house and gave him a feeling of freedom.
Soon he worked his strength and endurance and regularly hiked the Withlacoochee State Trail.
“Then I went to buy my own bike,” he said with a smile.
And in 2018, when he saw on a Whispering Pines Park website that he had his own bike path, he went there to ride it.
“At the entrance (of the trail) you could see where it was… but it just disappeared,” he told The Chronicle. “(The old bike club that once maintained the trail) hadn’t used it since 2011. Of course Mother Nature will take it back.”
“The trail was only about 100 feet… and then there was nothing there,” he recalls.
He convinced City Manager Eric Williams to give him and Citrus Shredders the opportunity to clear the 2.5 mile long trail.
The group brought in landscaping material and between August 2020 and November 2020 cleaned everything up. Now the members continue to maintain it, especially after storms that could leave fallen branches.
When the limbs are too big to move and need to be cut, Mayers said he calls the town and they are usually there within hours to resolve the issue.
Mayers said the park trail is a commitment that pays dividends.
“I’ll go there and work as long as I have a local place to ride,” he said.
He spent about $ 500 of his own money on supplies and equipment to maintain the trail. He is on a fixed income.
A year ago, he got his driver’s license back.
But that did not slow down his cycling. He always goes to the trail, to his gym, and hosts vacation events like “Peddle Your Turkey Off” for Thanksgiving.
Woody Worley, Director of Parks and Recreation at Inverness, is grateful for the help. Each volunteer hour is an hour that a paid City employee can devote to other work or that a program remains accessible to the public, such as the bike path.
“We have a very good relationship with the MTB group,” he said. “They do the vast majority of his upkeep.”
“They spent months, day after day clearing this trail,” Worley said of Mayers and his cycling friends. “It has alleviated a lot of the burden on the city. They still keep him very strong.
“People are excited about it now,” he said.
Worley said he hopes other organizations are inspired by Mayers and invites them to volunteer for other projects.
“When you volunteer, you invest in what you do,” he said. “They see the investment they put into it.”
Anyone interested in volunteering with the city can contact Worley at 352-726-3913.
Mayers can be contacted at [email protected]