A few days ago a buddy of mine named Dan Sweitlik emailed me and said he and another friend PacMan, (yeah that’s his name) wanted to work together to try and win at the California State Championships. The course is in Bakersfield with a distance of a little over 31 miles long with a hill that lasts about a mile and half. It’s not steep, but last year it was too long for me and I got dropped at the crest. I was able to catch on the descent, so I recanted the same story to Dan and told him if I could get close to the finish together I would work with them.
The weather was cool and cloudy as we approached the 7:30am start. Two seconds after the starting whistle, my computer flew off my bike! Great….
The course was interesting. Tons of potholes, cattle crossings and a slight wind. Just like a thought, I got dropped at the top of the hill but you know me, I made it back on the descent. The pack had broken in two which left only about 20 of us. As we made the final right hand corner for the one kilometer to the finish I was second wheel. Perfect! With 700 meters to go, Dan came through hard so I jumped on his wheel. It’s best to stay in the front in a sprint; less guys to pass and less guys that could cause a problem. The finish was getting closer and closer and Dan did a great job of stringing it out. PacMan was definitely the strongest of the day. I had been observing him in the climb and he never looked like he was hurting. I hit it hard with about 500 meters to go and died with about 300 to go. It was PacMan’s turn. I couldn’t believe it! It looked like our plan was about to work! Don’t ask me why, but as I pulled off, he slid by and then came right into my left side. No problem, I just leaned in, but he lost it and fell, hooking my bars and dragging me to the ground. Bam! We were flying over 30 mph, so it definitely hurt. I landed hard on my right side and then flipped over to my left. I immediately curled up into a ball in case someone from the sprinting pack couldn’t avoid running me over. Luckily, no one did. I slowly stood up and brushed myself off. It stung pretty hard. As I looked around, there were five or six guys on the ground. One racer was moaning pretty loud. Since we were close the finish, a bunch of people came out to help the guy moaning and PacMan didn’t look very good. He was bleeding from the head and the face. He really messed himself up. I think he broke his collar bone and maybe his face. His cheek was really big and cut pretty bad. Head wounds bleed a lot so he had a lot of blood on him. I got banged up and the road rash on my elbows and knees was stinging. I couldn’t do much for the guys on the ground so I got back on my bike and finished the race. I strolled over the line for 23rd. About three meters from the line I found my computer!
It was my first real fast crash in over three years and I survived. I think lifting weights helps and my guardian angel was watching out for me.
My shorts and jersey are toast, left adductor feels a little strained, my pelvis and neck are stiff and showering isn’t fun, but the bike is fine. Tomorrow is the elite state championships road race. Hopefully, no one will be pulling me down.
Since this was about my 50th or 60th race of the year and my first crash, I’m not so bad….
I spoke to PacMan later and he broke his shoulder and received 30 stitches in his face. Racing can be a bitch sometimes….the sport is not for wusses.