Driven To Ride: The True Story Of An Elite Athlete Who Rebuilt His Leg, His Life, And His Career by Mike Schultz

Overview: A high-octane memoir of unflappable determination from an X-Games and Paralympics champion. When “Monster” Mike Schultz won snowboarding gold in Pyeongchang, South Korea, it was the culmination of a decade of reinvention, in every sense of the word. Ten years earlier he’d lain bleeding on the side of a mountain after a devastating snowmobile accident. Now he stood tall on the Paralympic podium, supported by a prosthetic knee and foot of his own creation. Driven to Ride chronicles Schultz’s improbable journey following a lifesaving amputation. From a place of debilitating pain and depression, he tapped into the same sense of adventure that had once taken him to the top of competitive snowmobile racing and followed it to the pinnacle of an entirely new sport: adaptive snowboarding. As he launched himself into the world of adaptive sports, Schultz’s ambition was only tempered by his need for better equipment—prostheses that could withstand the vibrations of a motocross bike or the impact of rough terrain. His obsessive tinkering, without any formal engineering background, has presented yet another new path designing innovative prostheses for athletes and wounded military veterans. Inspiring and thrilling in equal measure, this is a singular story of uncommon strength, ingenuity, and seizing golden opportunities.

Reading Guide

As you are reading, look for ways that Mike Schultz had to advocate or speak up for himself. 

Pay attention to the quotes at the beginning of each section. Why do you think they were chosen? Do you have quotes that help you through hard times?

In the forward, David chooses to use the word “adaptive” when describing Mike during competitions rather than “disabled.” Think about the power of words and how we choose to speak about ourselves. What words do you prefer?

Think about how Mike’s wife Sara advocates for him while he is sedated and cannot advocate for himself. Who are people you can rely on to help you? How do you speak up for others when they cannot? 

When Mike meets the prosthetist, he is surprised to learn that he was a fellow amputee. Do you ever feel that disabilities can be invisible? Have you ever been surprised to learn that a person had a disability? 

How does Mike feel when he gets his first prosthetic leg? What other devices or tools do people use to assist them? How would life be different if people didn’t have those tools?

Mike’s mother cries when she sees his new leg even though he is happy about all the things he can now do. Think about the ways we view disability. In what ways does society put sadness or pity on people with disabilities? How do you think that affects the way people with disabilities view themselves?

Mike is frustrated to learn that a more advanced prosthetic leg that will allow him to compete in sports will not be covered by insurance and will cost him a lot of money. How do financial barriers affect people with disabilities? What other barriers do people with disabilities face?

What effect does Jim Wanzy have on Mike’s life? Who are people in your life that you can relate to? What mentors do you have in your life?

Why does Mike feel that he needs to build his own leg? Have you ever felt alone in trying to solve a problem? What did you do?

When Mike first gets back into racing he fears he won’t be able to “keep up?” In what ways does fear keep us from trying new things? 

Mike wonders if racing is still valuable to him if he doesn’t win. What value does racing bring to Mike’s life? What activities are valuable in your life and what value do they bring?

At the Extremity Games, Mike notices that the athletes are more interested in learning from each other and helping than winning first place. Where are places where you feel like you learn from others?

When Mike needs help, who are the people he reaches out to? Why is it important to ask for help? 

Some of the riders are jealous of Mike’s new attention after losing his leg. How does he deal with these comments? How do you deal with hurtful words?

How does Mike use his skills to help others? What are your skills? How could you use those to help other people?

When Mike first meets the war veterans, he is unsure how to start a conversation with them. How do you start conversations with people who are different from you?

Mike worries that the injured soldiers will feel abandoned when they return home. What groups in society seem “abandoned” to you? What can you do to reach out to those groups?

There were multiple times in his business where Mike had to accept help from others. How do you take feedback? How do you know if someone is giving you good advice?

Mike says that he tries to listen and be patient with the veterans he works with, acknowledging that he can never understand their stories completely. Which groups in society could you try to listen and understand? How do you talk to people who have had more hardships than you?

The stress of buying a house, competing, and having a pregnant wife causes Mike to have health issues. What signs does your body give you that you need rest? How do you de-stress? 

When Mike is competing in the World Cup, he notices it is easier to compete with a team than on his own? Why is it easier to have a team? Who do you feel like is your “team?”

Multiple times after his injury, Mike discusses his anger. What are times in life that make you angry? How do you deal when life feels unfair?

After healing his ankle, Mike is unsure if he wants to continue snowboarding. What do you do when you have to make big decisions? 

Mike puts on headphones and listens to music to stay in a positive mood. What do you do to put you in a good mood? Why was it important to stay out of the team drama?

At the end of the book, Mike said he still wishes he could have his leg back. What are your thoughts about that? Watch this Ted Talk with Mike talking about his experiences