Meningococcal infection knocks this mountain biker down but not out!

By Bo Poertner Managing Editor

Jim Halbeisen rides on the back of his new tandem bike with his daughter, Merissa, near their home Tuesday evening in Vandenberg Village. Halbeisen lost both legs, his left hand and the fingers and thumb of his right hand due to a meningococcal infection. The Village Dirtbags mountain bike club purchased the custom-made bike for Halbeisen after hearing his story. //Mark Brown

Head down, legs pumping, Jim Halbeisen rolled up the hill on Galaxy Way in Vandenberg Village on the rear seat of the custom-made tandem road bike behind his daughter, Merissa.

They cruised to a stop in the driveway, where a sign hanging from the open garage announced the Village Dirtbags clubhouse.

Soon, three dozen of the Dirtbags mountain bikers in full road regalia gathered around the tandem bike that they had ordered and helped pay for to enable Halbeisen to get back on the trails.

“I am so jealous,” said Randy Phillips, admiring the bike. “What a street rod you guy’s have got.”

In the double-hook prosthesis on his left arm, Halbeisen held a small sign that read, “Village Dirtbags, Just a bump in the road. ... In appreciation for all you have done to get me back on the bike again.”

“From the bottom of my heart,” Halbeisen said.

“Welcome back on the trails, where you belong,” said Doug Pecyna.

Life had stacked the odds against Jim Halbeisen.

Nine years ago, when doctors diagnosed the Mesa Oaks resident with myelofibrosis, a kind of leukemia, surgeons removed his spleen, and six weeks later doctors zapped him for a week with massive doses of chemotherapy in preparation for a bone-marrow transplant.

“It basically takes you to the edge,” said Halbeisen, 55, a retired federal prison worker. Doctors told him he had a 10-percent chance of surviving, he said.

Read the rest of the story here.

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