Well . . . I knew it would happen sometime. I began racing this year and have had moderate success in my Cat. 5 races. Prior to my crash I had taken a 7th place finish and the race before went on a solo breakaway on a technical crit course and won by 30 seconds. Not too bad. My fifth race of the year was this past Friday, and I must say that I was warned by an experienced racer that this race would be a crash-fest and that I should use my worst wheelset (advice I did not follow . I showed up for the race and was surprised by the number of people we had starting out. The race was a combined 4/5 so there were over 100 riders. The course was a point to point race with no major hills. The pack stayed together the entire race and was plagued by sudden bursts of speed followed by abrupt braking. This became very frustrating. So frustrating that I considered going off the front, but had been reminded by my friend that no breaks ever made it because of the course. I was also told that if I wasn’t in the top 10 -15 within the last mile that I was better to drop back and avoid the crashes. All went well until we were a mile and a half from the finish.
As we began to cruise through a slight left turn in the road I made a mental note to myself that I wasn’t in the front of the pack and that when the speed picked up for the final mile I needed to let the race pass me by and be satisfied with simply gaining the experience of a mass rider road race. Within seconds though, before I even knew what had happened, I was flying over my handlebars headed for the curb on the side of the right side of the road. The only thing I remember from the actual crash is sticking my hands out in front of my face just before I went headfirst into the curb. The next thin I knew I was lying spread eagle on my back inches from a concrete retaining wall. It seemed that only seconds had passed before an EMT was asking my name and telling me not to sit up. My name I knew, but lying on my back was not an option because the sweat (fortunately not blood) was flowing into my eyes. After I sat up and gathered my thoughts, I looked at the carnage of my bike. My front wheel was trashed. It tacoed, and the rim actually cracked in two spots. My new Aliante was scraped to hell, bar tape barely left hanging on the left side of my bars, and the brake hood was a lost cause. Thank goodness my frame and fork turned out to be okay. As for me . . . I got quite a bit of road rash on my right side (ankle to shoulder) where I landed, and a bruised and scraped up right eye where my head came crashing to the curb. My brand new team helmet was cracked in three places but probably saved my life. My Bontrager Race X-Lite front wheel was ruined. My confidence was broken.
I got on the bike the next day though and fought my ass off to finish the Snake Alley Criterium in Burlington, Iowa. Along the way I regained my confidence and managed to finish fourth. Two days later I raced again (Quad Cities Criterium) and managed to finish 11th after staying on the front far too long. All in all, it was one hell of a weekend. I guess I always wondered when I would get into my first real wreck, and now that it’s over it was no big deal really. I was very lucky. But it won’t keep me off the bike one bit. I can’t wait until I race again, probably next weekend, and know that anything’s possible.
Thanks for reading! Ron