Racing tales from the great Pacific Northwest

Monday, June 28, 2010

Boston Harbor Circuit Race

This is one of my favorite short course races and this year it was the state circuit race championships. Mark, Wes, Jordan and I lined up for the Cat 3 field. It was shaping up to be another great day for racing. We were doing six laps on a six mile, rolling hill course. I've always done well here and was feeling pretty confident that I could place high again this year. Since I won the week before I really wanted to figure out a way we could get Mark the win. Jordan and I would try breaks and Wes was going to get up front on the final lap and go as hard as he could until the 1K mark. Jordan went off right away with one of the Garage guys and since they had a strong contingent I hoped we could keep them out there. They stayed out there for a while but I think they were caught during the short climb. A couple of breaks were attempted on the 2nd lap and I helped bring them back. Jordan tried another and again, it was brought back. He was really working hard out front at that point and I hoped he would get in one that would stick. That was status quo for the first few laps. As we started up the hill to the start of the 4th lap we were all together so I decided to push to the front and string the pack out. I stayed up front for the next three miles before letting up. As we reached the end of lap five all of us were still near the front. If no one tried to shoot off early and really string out the field we would be in a tight bunch after we leveled out on top of the hill and there would be no real room to move up. I rode up next to Mark and told him we needed to work hard to stay up near the front 5-8. If we did we would have a good chance in the final sprint. Just as planned, Wes shot up to the front on the final lap and picked up the pace. He had the pack strung out nicely with Jordan, Mark and I all right near the front. When Wes wants to go he can keep it up for a while. As we came around turn three Wes was still up there and I could tell the wind was slowing him down a bit, but he would not concede. Then, for some reason, Mark moved to the front and started to pull. He was riding strong but I'm not sure what he was thinking. If anyone could drive a field that far out and still take the win its Mark. The Garage guys were happy to see this and slotted in right next to us. I stayed about 4th wheel and didn't let anyone around my left side. We hit the hill and the 1K mark and Wes dropped off. Mark continued to drive hard and as we crested the hill and hit the flats we were looking good. Alex from Garage got on Mark's wheel and I lined up right behind. This was perfect. We hit the 200 meter mark and someone shot off the front from the right. Mark was still going hard. 100 meters to go and I saw Alex start to wind up to make his move. I was ready. I was getting ready to make my move with about 50 meters to go. I was sure I'd get 1st or 2nd and Mark would be right there as well.
All of a sudden this guy on my right made a desperate and dangerous move and swerved violently into my lane and clipped Mark's rear wheel. It's hard to tell what happened next but think he took out a Hagens guy right next to me. This was not going to end well. I had no place to go and plowed right into him and hit the deck hard. While sliding across the pavement I remember hoping that no one would run me over. BAM!! Tom from Garage plowed right into my back. I kept hearing that nasty, loud sound of carbon, steel and bodies that continued to hit the deck and it seemed like it was never going to end.

(this is at 50 meters from the finish. The crash happened about 1 to 2 seconds later. Mark, in green has a helmet you can see just behind his head. He came into Mark's rear wheel , went down and took out the HB guy(white sleeve) . I couldn't avoid him and went down. The nasty chain reaction followed . I was right on the wheel of Alex who won the race so I was in a great position for the finish)

In I heard that up to 10 guys went down. We were only 20 or so meters from the finish. WTF was that guy thinking!!? I checked to see if my fingers and toes still worked...check. I had thoughts of jumping on my bike and finishing but I didn't even know where my bike was. The pain was now starting to hit. Initially all I could feel was the excrutiating pain in all my fingers. I had scraped them to the nerve endings and they were on fire. By this time my teammates, friends, family and bystanders were crowded around us. I tried to sit up but was told not to. I looked around and there were four others still on the ground. The others must have had only minor injuries and were able to move on without assistance. A few seconds later my whole body started to feel the pain. My right shoulder, hip, and back felt the worse and my whole right side was one big road rash. Like a typical racer I asked if my bike was OK and then asked where my Oakley Jawbones were. I was told not to worry about the bike and my glasses were handed to me in three pieces with no lenses. Then I took my helmet off and realized that my head had also hit the pavement hard. The helmet was a mess but it did its job. The paramedics were quick to the scene and three guys were on me checking my vitals. I was on the ground for about a half hour and it was comforting to have my wife and teammates around me. I was patched up and finally able to get up and walk around. I went over and congratulated Alex for his win and hobbled back to the car.
Denise took me to the urgent care facility in Issaquah. I got x-rays and went through the painful process of getting my cuts and road rash cleaned up. I was told there was no sign of any head injury so I consider myself lucky. I have a small crack in my clavicle, and a rib. Road rash covers the whole right side of my body and somehow I managed to pull my groin (no jokes please). I have never been one to use pain meds but there was no way I was going to make it through the night with out them. I slept for a total of about three minutes last night and when I did get up this morning the pain was unbearable. I found my meds and quickly inhaled them. This will not be fun but I have teammates who have been though much worse this year so I'll keep my complaining to a minimal. OK, so I'll recover sometime soon but what about my gear. I was riding my carbon frame with carbon wheels and I figured they were toast. Surprisingly they seem OK but Denise drove me over to HSP to get a full crash assessment. We'll know by Wednesday. I had to purchase a new helmet and shades and I may have to get new shoes. I wish I could have contested the win but I know this is part of bike racing and I am lucky that I'll be back in the saddle this season. I'm not sure if some of the others were so lucky.

Oh...and congrats to Mirna on getting her 2nd state championship in two weeks!! I am really proud of her.


  1. Nasty way to end a great race. I'm glad to see you keeping your chin up over this debacle. You are right that you will be back in the saddle. Good luck for a speedy recovery!