Spinal disc herniation

We should leave in 4 days. For weeks we were busy preparing everything: organising the first days in Vancouver, buying some extra things we would need, repairing our bikes, putting the bikes in boxes, emptying the house (more boxes) and so forth

(We didn’t got the chance to take pictures of all the luggage we would take with us.)

But than it happened: four weeks ago Peter suddenly couldn’t walk anymore. He had a lot of pain while sitting and walking and was only able to lie in bed (next to the bike boxes).


We went to different doctors and did a scan and very soon the problem was clear: He had a spinal disc herniation. We tried different things, Peter stayed in hospital several times for a couple of days, alternative medicine, but nothing helped. The doctors told us that, if he wants to cycle tour again like we used to do, he needs surgery. And that’s what he did. Last Thursday he had the surgery and everything went well. Now Peter is at home and he can walk without pain again. Which is a big relief for all of us.

The last weeks have been emotional and stressful for all of us. First there was this uncertainty. “What is the problem?” “How can we fix it?” “Will the pain ever go away?” …

But also:

“Shall we continue packing everything and emptying our house?” “Can we leave on 22nd of April?” “Shall we fly to Canada and travel in a different way?” …

Finally we realised that it would be really stupid to start this trip right now. Peter has to get better. In six weeks it will be clear if everything healed well and if the pain is really gone. Than he slowly can start to train his muscles again and maybe try to cycle a little bit. It is hard to wait and live with this uncertainty. We love our life on the road but maybe we can never tour like we used to do again.

Ben still is very confused. Everyday he is talking about “our big trip” and about the “bear country”. He keeps telling us “I will take …  with me when we go on our big trip.” We tell him that we can’t go right now and that daddy has to get better first but it is really difficult for him to understand. When Peter had the operation Ben said “Now we can go on our big trip mummy, can’t we?”

That’s life and life is going on. Petra is thinking of how to tour alone with two small kids this year (probably only for a couple of days), Peter wants to follow with a car (if he is able to sit for a longer period by then) and we look forward to enjoy another summer in the beautiful Austrian Alps.


18 thoughts on “Spinal disc herniation

  1. Ouch, that is a nasty surprise. All the best for you, get well soon!
    If you are around Vienna my Sister, her two kids Samuel (3y) and Frieda (2y) and I would sure like to cycle together with Petra and the kids for some days. That might be more easy than Petra alone with two kids – which is an intersting challenge though 🙂

  2. Beterschap Peter! Everything happens for a reason, and I am absolutely certain things will work out in the end. You will find a way!

  3. Absolutely gutted for you!! Tears for Ben … completely understand!!! So good to hear Peter came through the surgery well. If your still in Europe in July, we restart our trip and would love to cycle with your family. From one cycling family to another, ride free with a speedy recovery. Team Escott x

  4. Hallo Petra, Peter en kids, wat een pech allemaal. Op de eerste plaats hopen dat het met Peter weer helemaal goed komt. De rest komt later en het zal wel zo moeten zijn. Heel veel groetjes van ons en een goed herstel voor Peter. Jan en Ineke

  5. Hallo Petra, Peter en kids, wat een pech allemaal. Op de eerste plaats maar zorgen dat Peter weer helemaal beter wordt, de rest komt later. Het zal wel zo moeten zijn! Heel veel beterschap voor Peter en heel veel groeten van ons. Jan en Ineke

  6. Hallo Petra, Peter en kids,

    Het leven loopt zoals het loopt en komt zoals het komt. Na regen komt zonneschijn. Peter snel herstel toegewenst. Voor jullie allemaal, wat in het vat zit verzuurt niet.

    Hanny en Rien

  7. Sorry to hear about the back problem. I hope Peter heals soon.

    I am planning my first cycling trip with my wife and 3 kids this summer for 2 weeks in Ontario Canada. I was looking forward to reading how you handled things with your little ones since our children on 6, 4 and 2.

    I wish you the best of luck with the healing process and your adventures this summer.

  8. Hallo Peter en Petra,

    Wij wensen jullie veel beterschap, wat een pech! Hopelijk wordt de deur nu uiteindelijk wel open gezet voor andere, nieuwe avonturen.

    Groeten, uit de sint theresiastraat :-),

    Arnold, Lindy en Isabelle

  9. Hello Petra and Peter,

    How are you? This is Paul Kim from Vorea living in Italy.
    First of all I want to wish you a fast recovery!!!
    I know you will come back even stronger and I have no doubt about it.

    Sometimes in life we go through unexpected challenges and just have to be patient and strive for our goal with even stronger determination.

    Also please send my warm love to Esme and Ben for me.
    Big hugs to everyone!

    Paul Kim

  10. Dear Petra and Peter,
    Oh no, what a bummer! All we can wish you at the moment is a speedy recovery, Peter. While we are not planning a “big trip” (yet), we are planning to take 5 weeks this year starting at the end of May to cycle with our two kids. We were thinking of touring along the river Rhine. At the moment we are figuring out if there is a way to fit all four of us onto our tandem bike. If Petra would like to join us (maybe during the first part in Switzerland?), let us know!
    -Andrea and Christian

  11. Hi Peter, are you there? Or is this Petra? Hi to both of you.

    I saw your post — what a shock! The look on your face…. ow.

    First, Hi from me, things have really moved on for you, I’ve really enjoyed your blog. Actually I mainly look at the photos and see your life, how wonderful it is. Things have turned around for me in many ways and my life gets better all the time. At the end of this week, I am moving back to London. And going back to work – after 20 years of mucking about, travelling a bit, living at home a bit, and so on. It’s a story as to how I had my turnaround, but I did. I no longer have a life ‘I am ashamed of’ or whatever I said to Peter once that he remembered. I am going to work as, well something more than a personal trainer. I just got my qualification as a CHEK practitioner, Level 1, for corrective exercise and holistic health and I am moving back to London to work for the guy who coached me and my back to excellent health. In other words, I would be someone who would help you with rehabilitating your back, though I think your case is a bit advanced for me, but I’m sure I could so learn how to do it.

    And another reason your post really surprised me, I am talking at the Cycle Touring Festival here in the UK at the end of May. I’m talking on the subject ‘Your back is like a bicycle wheel – keeping it true on tour’. I will show a few photos of people cycling – I’d like to use a photo of Peter taken when we rode together in Wales. And if you don’t mind, can I use the photo of you lying in bed, the one on your blog post below? I want to tell people to watch out, that disc bulges can strike at any time, and bike touring, if you are at risk, makes you more vulnerable. I looked at all my photos of Peter but I couldn’t see that his posture was particularly bad. In one photo, he looks like he has a stiff back from cycling all day, but I am surprised. Looking at my photos, his friend Cameron rode with much worse back posture.

    So, feeling sorry for you all. I am sure you have already looked at the good side of this bleak picture, and that is that at least it happened while you were still at home, and not in Canada.

    Good luck with the rehabbing (rehabilitation of Peter’s back) and please let me know if you don’t mind me using that photo. I simply want to say to people, hey, this could happened to you, it happened to my friend Peter just before his trip.

    All the best,


    Hey, I’m on Facebook now. I’ll try to find you….


    • Hello Steve! So good to hear from you. We weren’t sure if you were still following us. Good to know that your life is getting even better. The phrase you said once to me (peter) was, ‘I am becoming the man I don’t want to be.’ So I guess now you are the man you want to be.

      You can use the pictures and use my story. Do you want us to send you the originals? I don’t think my posture was very bad, but I do believe that my core strength was not enough for the tough riding I have been doing for over 12 years now.

      I am doing a lot better now. Still 3 weeks to be very careful. After that I will start training. We hope to hit the road in November.

      We are also on Facebook. Petra van Glabbeek-Stranger.

      Thanks for writing, Peter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s