Not the best race I've ever had but figured I might as well post the good with the bad.
I left the house around 6:15 yesterday morning and headed to some friends house. By the time I met up with them and we got on the road it was around 7:15 or so. We were on our way. We had about a four hour drive to get to the race which was near Louisville, KY. We had a rather uneventful drive, which is always a good thing. We ended up finding the race and parking the car around 11:00 am. I couldn't believe how many riders were there, it was actually hard to find a parking spot. We all went to register and could not believe how long the line was. After standing there a minute someone asked if we were pre-registered. Luckily the answer was yes, we went straight to the front of a second line and were on our way in no time.
To me the way they had the cat's was a little weird. They had a cat 1/2/3, a cat 3/4, a cat 4/5/citizens and a womans group. Apparently if a cat 3 didn't think they were too strong they could ride with the 4's. If a cat 4 didn't feel all that strong they could ride with the 5's. It was up to them. I was under the assumption that if you were a cat 3 you rode with the 3's. If you were a 4 you rode with the 4's. If they combined cat's then the 3's still all rode together and the 4's all rode together etc, etc. To me that is kind of like me racing sport in mountain biking but then not feeling all that strong one day and deciding to race the beginners field. Maybe I'm wrong though.
Well onto the race. I am a cat 5 so I was in the cat 4/5/citizens group. I was amazed at the number of riders in our group, there was at least 80. It seemed like I was constantly going from the front third of the group to the back of the group. I felt strong I just couldn't do anything, there were just way too many people. The course had some little rollers with one climb that was about a mile long. Each lap was about 9 miles and our group had to do three laps.
The first lap was rather uneventful. Just a lot of speeding up then everyone slamming on the brakes. It was much more tiring mentally than physically. The second lap was going pretty much the same up until about the eight mile mark. That was when we came up on a couple of police cars and an ambulance. Everyone dismounted and starting walking around the cars. Their were a bunch of the women standing around. I started looking around for a good friend of mine that was in their group, one of the people I rode to the race with. At first I didn't see her standing around so I was pretty relieved, then I saw her bike on the side of the road with a tacoed front wheel. That is when I looked over and saw her in the middle of the road with blood everywhere. They were in the process of putting her on a backboard. I threw by bike to the side of the road, my race was over.
I went over to her and apparantly she had just regained consciousness. She had a huge cash right abover her left eye from her sunglasses. Some road rash on her arm, shoulder, knee, hip, and leg. However even more noticable she was scared. Who can blame her? She kept asking me if she was alright and what had happened. I couldn't convince her that I wasn't there when it happened. I stayed around until they got her in the ambulance then I jumped in the front seat and rode to the hospital with her. One other girl from the crash got in the ambulance as well. At the time I don't believe she thought she had any major problems.
I was able to talk to one very helpful gentleman that took responsibility for my bike, my friends bike and took the key to my friend's car to give to our other buddy that was still riding. If it hadn't been for him the whole ordeal would have been much worse.
Anyway, as for the crash I later found out that nine of the fifteen women went down in the crash. Nobody really knows what caused it though. If anyone has any idea please pm me, the girl involved would love to know. Her mind has blocked the whole thing.
Ok, on to the hospital. It was one of the better organized ER's that I have been to. Everyone was extremely nice and helpful. People kept loaning me their cell phone's to contact the girl's boyfriend to let him know what was going on. The doctor was very helpful as well. Before she started doing the stitches she asked if she wanted her (the er doctor) to do the stitches or get a plastic surgeon to do them to minimize scarring. She chose the plastic surgeon. This will involve us going to another hospital but it's well worth it. Now it was time for the CT scan and a bunch of x-rays. It all went very smooth.
While we were still there the uscf official came and took a statement and got all of the details. They are definitely on the ball. After that our other riding partner showed up with the bikes and the car. We then headed to the other hospital. Once we made it there we were treated as kings as well. Everything went very smooth (considering the circumstances).
It was after this that we learned about the other rider that went to the hospital. She had received some broken ribs. One of the broken ribs lacerated her kidney. The last I spoke with anyone she was in surgery. We all certainly wish the best for her.
All in all I received my first dnf after four years of racing (4 mtb, first year road), my one buddy finished with the pack for the first time so that is basicly a victory for him and my other friend ended up with a story to talk about for a very long time. It was definitely an experience.
We finally made it back in town around 11:30 pm, I made it home around 12:30 last night.