Sunday, July 11, 2010

Accidents Happen

After winning the Cat 4 time trial and Papillion Crit yesterday, I abandoned today's State Road Race Championship after getting in a bike tangle with Sydney Brown.

Today's race was chaotic, to say the least. Thunderstorms overnight flooded the lower half of the course, resulting in a 45 minute start delay while race officials rerouted the race. In the end, the officials lopped off roughly four miles -- including a long hill climb -- from the original seven mile circuit loop. The entire dynamic of the race shifted from one that favored hill climbers to one that favored the flat lander power racer.

The race officials had their work cut out for them, keeping the many different racing skill levels separated within the three mile loop. The fields included: Men Cat 1-2-3, Men 4 & Women 1-2-3, Masters 40+, 50+, 60+, Cat 5 men, women Cat 4-5 and juniors. Added to the mayhem was the necessity of all the race officials' cars, wheel trucks, and later: ambulances and firetrucks. All on a tight, three mile loop.

About thirty minutes into the race, the Mens Cat 1-2-3 passed us. The race officials had the Cat 4s field slow to a neutral (easy with no-attacks) pace until the 1-2-3 men passed. I'm quite certain that the entire Cat 4 field realized that with two more hours of racing, there would be a lot of this stop and go stuff. Perhaps because of this, the attacks began shortly thereafter. I presume it was to create a gap that could leverage an advantage when the next neutral period occurred.

I was in one such attack with seven other riders that included fellow Midwest Cycling team member Ben Perkins. As the attack began to fail, I came around from the back to the outside/center line to drive the pace. As I came around, I looked over my right shoulder and motioned to Ben to latch on. When I turned back to look forward, there was forearm-to-forearm contact on my left side. It was Sydney. She yelled. We tangled and in a blink of an eye, she went down hard on her shoulder and face. I nearly followed.

What do you do in that situation?

I looked back and saw her crawling to the side of the road. 200 meters ahead was the roadside paramedic. We alerted for help as we rolled by. Of course, nobody knew how badly she was hurt. Since the circuit would bring us back the the scene minutes later, I decided to wait and see on the next pass.

When we returned, Sydney was lying on her back while the paramedic was treating her shoulder. Her race was over.

Having gone through something similar recently, I could empathize to some extent what she must have been experiencing. And since I was the one that got tangled up with her, I just didn't have the heart to race anymore. As the peleton rolled along, I delivered the news to my teammates and abandoned the race on the next loop.

Mend well, Sydney. You're in my/our thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery.


  1. did an honorable thing. Sorry you were unable to finish...our team rode strong in the race before and after your departure. Unfortunately with 2km I went down in the crash and Mike had to vear to avoid the crash as well taking him out of contention. Ben and Jeremy were getting gassed as well. Had it not been for the crashes our team would have had a great day. But it happens and thats racing. Good job this weekend. Pleasure racing with you.

  2. I broke 2 ribs in the 9th lap as a Cat 3 racer tried to pass me w/o warning. Walking with a cane.

  3. Thanks Jeremy. You guys were riding strong from the beginning of the race. Each of you, and especially Mike, were taking some hard pulls into the wind. It's too bad it didn't bear fruit in the end.

    KB: I heard about your crash over the officials radio while I was reporting that I abandoned the race. Sirens followed. Sorry to hear about your ribs. Get well soon.

    And then there's Dan Ertz as the 4s came to finish.

    If you ask me, yesterday was an evil day for a road race.

  4. Sunday was a beautiful day for a race. Pretty much perfect, really.

    But the course wasn't good for that many people. Without that hill, it was too easy. That meant more riders together, longer. The Cat. 4 pileup at the end was because the weaker guys didn't get shed off on the hill. And every single person in that group thought they were going to win (broad generalization alert) -- so they all went for it.


  5. Glad I avoided the mayhem. Watching the Tour stage was a much more safe and comfortable option.