Keeping in step with the field
The first few laps went by smoothly as no one seemed terribly interested in the food prime that was up for grabs. As the laps ticked by though i could feel the presence of Bissell and Einstein pushing the pace ever higher. As always, the attacks started coming and the accompanying surges in the field. At some points there would be a single file line the length of a city block and at other times the pack would be 5 or 6 wide. I focused on keeping a smooth rhythm through all of the surges and making sure i didn't over compensate for every little jump. My legs felt pretty solid and it wasn't a problem keeping up with the pace in general. I started to get antsy waiting for the lap counter to start ticking down and finally around 15 to go the official started counting down.
The field must have been antsy too because i began to notice more aggressive tactics and maneuvers while teams were preparing for the final run in. While people were jostling i worked hard to keep my place in the pack and not get relegated to the rear of the peloton, and then it happened... On the last turn of the course before the finishing stretch of lap 13 i got pushed upright by a surging pack trying to take the outer line. At first i thought i could save it, but once my wheel caught the groove between the pavement and curb i knew it was curtains for me. I focused my attention on the curb as i lost control trying to protect my face from hitting. I went over the bars and in a flurry of limbs, carbon and spokes my chest hit the curb and my bike got catapulted by my legs over my body. I heard the tire get shunned from the rim on impact as it was marked by a loud boom. I rolled over the curb and up onto the grass where i immediately jumped upright. In one fell swoop i grabbed my bike and began running down the road towards the pit. I could feel the pain in my chest and legs from where i had done battle with the curb.
The front wheel was completely toasted and the mechanic began replacing it at once. I was afraid for what i might find under my jersey as the bib strap caused pain in my chest. I tried to calm myself, drink some water and not stare at the wounds on my legs. My bike was given a hesitant ok and after one lap i was lined up on the right hand side of the road waiting to get launched back into the field. The officials held my bike TT style and wished me the best of luck. I managed to latch on as they came through on lap 11 and worked hard to get my quads to push the pedals with the giant knots from the crash. I tried not to loose my edge which often happens after a crash, and forced my will to stay near the front of the group. The pace became intense with just a few short laps to go. My Garmin was chirping every two minutes to tell me that one mile had already zoomed by. In the last stretch near the lake i gave it my all and picked up a few spots. Once we rounded the turn i leapt from the saddle and went into sprint mode. I gained a few positions there and could see the leaders as they crossed.
Wondering if i still have my left nipple...
The adrenaline ran high post-race and i hardly noticed my battered body. I did a cool down lap and congratulated those that surrounded me on a race well done. I rode up to some friends and stopped at the far end of the course to get off the bike. I chatted with a few folks, including Ben Whitehead who informed me that my crash was spectacular and he was shocked to see my figure back in the pack afterwards. We was on my wheel when it happened and was thankful the bike flung clear of him as opposed to blocking his path. With all that being said i finished 15th, and managed to collect a bit of the cash that was forked out to the top 20. Unfortunately it wasn't nearly enough to replaced a wheel and pay for a gallon of Neosporin.
I was happy to see many teammates out racing in their respective categories, and those not racing that were there just to support and cheer. Every time i went by my family or the Freewheeler tent i could hear them urging me on, and for that i give thanks!
Beat up bike and rider
The guys at Freewheeler Bike Shop have their work cut out for them!
Here's the Strava link of the race