Memphis author Barry Wolverton writes novels about adventurers overcoming obstacles. Then he faced a challenge of his own.

The Dragon’s Gate is one of four books on Amazon authored by Barry, who writes adventure fantasy novels aimed at young audiences with other titles like The Vanishing Island and The Sea of the Dead. His heroes eventually triumph over adversity, but the author was less sure of his own success after he underwent total knee replacement surgery at OrthoSouth. Although he was only 52, his orthopedic surgeon, Kenneth Weiss, M.D., said that arthritic pain from old injuries had caused a degenerative condition that would only get worse. Barry couldn’t exercise without excruciating discomfort, so he felt he had no choice.

“The painful part of getting a new knee isn’t the surgery or the healing process. It’s the exercise required for rehab,” says Barry, who was determined to return to an active lifestyle. “After surgery, you don’t want to do anything except lie down. But I was told I had to move my knee no matter how painful. I had a machine at home that would move my leg up and down, so I was working on range-of-motion exercises even before my strength returned.”

His passion is for cycling, a hobby he started initially for its low-impact nature that suited his joints. After surgery, he started back on a cycling trainer at home but feared that his long-distance days were over.

The biggest challenge most of us face, say health professionals, is balancing the exercise our bodies need with the sedentary lifestyle our job demands. No one is more prone to the “sitting disease” than authors who spend hours at a computer. Barry also does creative work for Archer Malmo, an advertising agency. Both sedentary jobs require the creative bursts that Barry says are fed by the solitude of cycling. “I’ve ridden with local groups to learn the best bike pathways, but I mostly enjoy just riding on my own.”

Now his recovery has amazed his physicians and friends. He averages 5,000 miles a year on his bike, a true accomplishment after full knee replacement surgery. He rides some days during his lunch break from his downtown office and then does long rides on weekends. He enjoys what cyclists call the “Marion loop” over the pedestrian bridge into soybean fields with a view of the downtown skyline.

 “People told me I wouldn’t be able to ride hard again after getting a new knee, but none of that proved to be true,” says Barry, who became an action hero—the nonfiction kind.

By Michael Good

Photo by Tindall Stephens

Barry Wolverton’s fifth book is coming out soon. Details on his published books are at