Leaving right after work Thursday mom and I made the 11-hour drive down to Tulsa, OK for Tulsa Tough, a three-day crit series. I’ve been excited about this crit series for several years as my brother (Kory) and family live here in Tulsa. Kory every year gives me trouble since I’ve pick NVGP Fixed Gear Classic (track racing) since it’s in my back yard. However this year road takes priority and I have a handful of teammates meeting here.
We pulled into Tulsa with about two hours of down time before I needed to leave and get ready for the race. I envy the day that I don’t have to show up the day of races. Emotionally having a day to relax before the pressures and runaround is so huge (at least to me).
Fast forwarding to the start line of the race…I lined up dead last! F! I had been warming up on the corner my family was hanging out on and as soon as the men 3s were done (with a crash), I hopped right on the course. I rounded the final to corners to realize that all the girls must have been standing on the sidelines like vultures hovering their pray to get a good starting position. Whatever, so I have some work to do.
This was a shorter eight-cornered crit with a suicide corner (race hits the same corner twice in opposite directions). All the corners were wide open though! As the race started, I made my way up lap by lap. I hadn’t seen my teammates until the race (they just got into town too). I got a giggle out of rolling up to them to say ‘sup’, as it’s been since Joe Martin.
Those first several laps my legs felt just fine, but my stomach didn’t. I decided to ignore it as quitting the race isn’t an option for me. In turn two a few laps in, I heard a crash behind me. Every lap there was several women being put back in from neutral.
Around and around we went for about 25 minutes. Until the start/finish straight on the left hand side some girls opted not to ride a straight line. They went down right in front of me and I followed in suit. Remembering it in slow motion and realizing everything that was happening as it happened. I bless the side of my brain that allows me never to panic and just take what’s coming. I saw myself fly over my bars and onto my face. I ended up on my back. I couldn’t move and remember feeling like my eyes were crossed. In every race I’ve ever gone down, I’ve always jumped right up. Part in anger, part in proof to myself that I was okay. Not this time. All I could do is raise my arm for help. Laying there I knew I hit my face and wondered how bad it was as I felt nothing. I don’t think they wanted to move me until a medic came over. All I wanted was off the course not to cause any other issues for the peleton. That and to tell my family where I was as they would be looking and wondering why I didn’t show up on their corner.
Sidebar: My brother Travis (from CA) was watching the race online. He had seen the crash and me not moving. He had text Kory and mom that I was caught up in it.
There was a gal that helped me to the side and soon after Gwen’s (teammate) husband, Mike (also a medic I believe). I sat against a wheel well of some truck dazed as hell until I was taken to the medic tent. All eyes were on me as I made my way. Shit how bad is my face? Several people worked on my odds and ends and had a continuous stream of questions. Waves of emotions ran over. I kept my composure with just a few random tears of anger. My right forearm was pretty hurt and I just hoped it wasn’t broken. I had a lot of visitors and finally my family found me. I didn’t like my mom’s expression and even more, I didn’t like that she had to live it.
It was obvious that an ER trip would be squeezed into the evening plans. We wanted to verify if I had broken anything in the arm and possibly a CT on the noggin. After three and half hours of ER fun everything was negative. Even before we got the results, my mom was already playing her role well and making her statement that I shouldn’t race the next day.
I’m doing pretty well today. My face looks banged up, but it could be far worse. My arm is my issue, as I can’t rotate my wrist without a bit of pain. I did get painkillers but don’t plan to take any as I wanted to feel it out and it’s progression back to normal. After thinking it through and talking to Sophie, I’m going to sit out of today’s race. Depending how I feel maybe I’ll race tomorrow and see what Cry Baby Hill is all about. But most importantly we want me to be ready for NVGP starting Wednesday.
This shit happens. It’s a risk I take and fully understand every time I toe the line. I hope it never to happen and I really hope if it happens it’s not more serious. I love racing my bike. I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. Now…how to explain my face to all my coworkers when back at work Tuesday…
PS Thank you SO much for all the emails/texts/post replies! It’s overwhelming how supportive everyone has been!
AND if anyone sees a youtube of the crash, I would like to see it. I know several people saw it live and I believe from two angles. I may be distorted but I’d like to see it.