Friday, September 11, 2015

Some More Firsts

I earned some more firsts at the Gateway Cup this past weekend: two crashes in one race, one Did Not Finish (DNF), and two Did Not Start (DNS). These are not the firsts that I was seeking.

In retrospect, perhaps I was too presumptive and angered the cycling gods when I counted all four Gateway cup races among the 20 new races that I did this year. I suppose it could be bad luck to presume that one will successfully complete any bike race until you actually cross the finish line and step off the bike course.

It's too bad too, because the Gateway Cup is an exciting cycling venue. With four days of racing on courses that vary from Lafayette square's nighttime race, to a flat and fast four corner wide-open Tour de Francis Park, to racing on the historic "hill" of the Italian quarters of St. Louis, to a very technical Benton Park course featuring about a thousand turns, this weekend has a little something for everyone. And at the the crossroads of the South and the Midwest, the Gateway Cup pulls from a wide region of racers. That, plus lots of corporate sponsorship has made this race a bicycle festival for 30 years running. Perhaps this is why it is included in the national criterium race calendar.

Regional races bring exposure to different racing styles, nearly all of which are positive. However, there is one practice that I hope I never experience again, and that is the amount of touching and man-handling that was going on in the peloton. It happened a lot. Basically, it seemed that some in the peloton are more preoccupied with redirecting the riders around them by touching, placing hands, or worse -- pushing them out of their line -- than managing their own bike. This is shit riding. Being intentionally touched is annoying at best. But being pushed is outright dangerous, and is specifically prohibited by the rulebook's section 1N9: "Pushing or pulling among riders is prohibited." Regardless of the degree of contact made, the act of doing so is just wrong. Even if the intention is to let one know of your presence, it is still stupid. For one, your voice is just as effective. For two, using one's hand requires taking it off their handlebar. A small bump, a touched brake, a hazard in the road, etc... at that moment could be disastrous for the rider and everyone around and behind them.

In short, simply ride your own bike. If you must, use your voice. Otherwise, ride in a predictable manner, have a conscience for those around you, and all will be good.

Now, I wasn't pushed on Saturday. That is not why I crashed. I crashed because someone up near the front of the group rode the peloton into the barriers of a wide open, four-lane turn on the final corner of the first lap. This is also stupid because those up front were not paying attention to their surroundings. This is always important, but especially so when more than half the field depends on you to do so.

Fortunately, I got by with a scraped knee after going over the handlebars.

After my shifter was adjusted, I got pushed back in after taking a free lap, and then road like hell to get up to the front so I didn't get caught in another melee like that. But alas, it wasn't meant to be. On the very same corner of lap three, some jackass rode the peloton right into the barriers. Again. But I was prepared for it this time. I had pre-positioned myself on the inside line, allowing myself room to move further inward if this should happen again. So when I saw the stack of dominoes falling sideways towards me, I thought I might be able to get by. Nope. Instead, I was hit from behind and dragged down onto the tarmac. Several riders quickly piled on top, each one grinding the pack further across the concrete. All the time, I was thinking, who's screaming? Then I realized it was me and shut my mouth when we came to a stop. My right hip, right arm, upper back and both shoulders, right cheekbone and earlobe got road rash. But it was my left hip that hurt the most. I could hardly stand up straight, walking was worse. My bike handlebars, housing, and cabling didn't fare very well, either. Needless to say, I was done for the weekend.

The medics cleaned me up and advised me to get an x-ray for my hips. At Urgent Care, the doctor's initial exam revealed previously undiscovered tenderness in my ribs. He was concerned that the rib pain was above my spleen, so they ordered CT scan as well to be sure that I wasn't bleeding internally. Fortunately, everything but the rib (fracture) turned out negative. Negative in this case is good.

These weren't the firsts I was hoping for this past weekend. But that's bike racing. I'll heal up.

Speaking of healing, since returning from St. Louis, I have already begun rehabbing my hip with Edge Physical Therapy/Mike Bartels. Apparently, my hips are as crooked as FOX News (my words, not his). But Mike knows what he's doing, and I'm sure he'll get me all straightened out soon enough.

I am also happy to report that I've been able to ride my bike since without much trouble. In fact, it's harder walking up to my bike than the act of pedaling it. I had nothing but smiles when I discovered that.

I'm unsure what this all means for my cyclocross season. I suppose I should just chill out for a while. I was sorta hoping that my road fitness was going to carry over to give the World Champion Mark Savery a run for it and everything. Now I'll just spot him a head start and see what happens later on.

Yes. I like that plan. Oh, hi Mark :)

Thanks for reading. Happy Friday

1 comment:

  1. " hips are as crooked as fox news" Nice metaphor or simile or whatever.