Women Riders

Inspirational Women: Ursula Marie Wachowiak, Part 5

Written by  February 27, 2016

Ursula only went ¾ of a mile on George’s bike but it was the start of a whole new journey for her. It was coming up on a year since she set out on her cross-country mission and she wasn’t about to abandon the idea quite yet.

After taking some time to visit old sites like her great grandmother’s old house and some places of interest around Georgia, with a renewed energy Ursula caught up on some clients’ work, updated her blog and celebrated her father’s 62nd birthday.   A visit to her surgeon would show the femur still growing-it would at least a year for it to be truly solid. She spent several days checking out trucks and trailers, looking specifically for a V-nose she could customize into her new “home.”

She had set a date for February 27, 2014 to be back on the road, first to Chicago for her granddaughter’s birthday then off to Daytona for Bike Week where her journey had begun just one year ago. A bike was, of course, in the plans but she needed to get the truck and trailer first.

Eight months after her crash, Ursula returned to Minnesota for a couple of reasons, including meeting her first responders. One of them, Jamie, offered her a room to stay in during her visit. The two ladies talked for a while and then went to meet the rest of the life-saving team. Ursula learned that the man who had held her head while she was being stabilized was the 15-year-old son of one of the EMTs. He, along with Jamie and another responder received awards for their work that night.

Her second reason for going to Minnesota was to go to court where Anthony, the young man that hit her, would face charges of reckless operation of a vehicle. Ursula learned that in passing the truck, Anthony had been going 70-80 mph. She knew she had been doing about 55 mph. The fact that she could have survived at all shocked her.

There are not many of us who would take the attitude that Ursula has when it comes to her interaction with Anthony. We might hold anger or worse. We might not care at all what happens to him. Ursula chose to forgive Anthony; understanding that we all make mistakes. Anthony never left his house with the thought “I’m going to hit a biker today” but he made a bad decision. There would be more trips to Minnesota, and more talks with Anthony and the first responders.

In July of 2014, one year after her crash, Ursula got her new bike, a 2004 Heritage Softail. She began giving talks about her experiences with the crash and the aftermath, including the PTSD that sometimes plagues her.

The rest of 2014 saw Ursula continuing to travel, work on expanding The Write Hand and acquiring a new riding companion, Sportster, a little black bundle of energy she “rescued” from a puppy vendor at a flea market. Sportster would join her other little girl, BB. She found a new place to “park” when she wasn’t traveling, and, of course, made a few new friends during her journeys.

Ursula’s femur continued to heal and she was fitted for a new leg in 2015. She began working with the Amp’d Rider Project; amputees who lost limbs but continues to ride. She has posted her interviews with other riding amputees on her YouTube channel The BROAD. Also in 2015, Ursula was featured in a new book Overcoming Mediocrity – Version III, Strong Women Edition by Christie Lee Ruffino.

In October 2015, Ursula suffered a major setback after having surgery to remove the hardware that was holding the new bone growth together; her femur broke. The fuse had not grown properly and it was necessary to install a rod through her leg. Her recovery was rough with all the pain, but if we’ve learned anything in this story, it’s that you can’t keep Ursula down for long. Working through the pain, soon she was off visiting family and friends for the holidays.

In February 2016, Ursula traveled to California to film a promotional video about not judging a book by its cover. She was one of half dozen people featured, and her segment is about never giving up on a dream. But soon after coming home, tragedy struck when she lost her dear riding companion, her dog, BB.

To keep up with the life of this extraordinary woman, you can read her blog, The B.R.O.A.D. or follow her on Facebook at thebroad.ursula.

Thank you for following this story of incredible courage, grace and perseverance.