biking. It was a constant companion
over the years as Shannon got married
and raised two kids—his son, Gage, and
Fast-forward 27 years to January
2011. After a routine physical, Shannon
got home to find his phone ringing
off the hook. It was his doctor telling
Shannon to meet him at a local hospital.
Shannon swears he didn’t have a clue
what was going on.
At the hospital, he was told his hemoglobin level was 4. It is supposed to be
between 13 to 17. “I still remember my
doctor saying, ‘How can you be alive?
You should have died from a massive
heart attack by now,’” remembers
Shannon, who wondered if he should
tell the doc that he had been riding his
mountain bike and didn’t feel like his
ticker was working all that poorly.
Leaving An Important
The news has never gotten better.
Shannon has myelodysplastic syndrome
(MDS) and developed severe anemia
and progressive bone marrow failure.
He and his doctors have been fighting
the disease with bone marrow transplants (that didn’t take), chemotherapy,
and an induced coma at one point in his
treatment which resulted in the loss of
an eye (“You should hear the jokes the
kids have come up with about that.”)
This is easily the most difficult “Riders Who Inspire” we have ver written. Many of our
“Riders Who Inspire” have turned
their lives around through mountain
biking or have battled through a
disease using mountain biking as
an antidote, treatment or cure. But
Shannon Decker is different. His
outlook is grim, and watching the way
he handles each day is inspirational
and heartbreaking at the same time.
The story actually starts in 1984
when Shannon financed “A green
Diamondback Apex,” he says with a
longing smile on his face, as if he’d
trade in his current ride, a wicked
Specialized, for another chance to ride
that old Diamondback.
That bike, as you would imagine,
started a life-long passion for mountain
Staying positive: “My one eye sure gets a lot of good-natured ribbing from Ella and
Gage,” jokes Shannon of the operation that almost cost him a lot more than one eye.