Yesterday was the Turkey Hill road race up in Lancaster, one of the better road races in the area. I raced THRR last year for the first time and really liked the course, hilly but not too hilly. Selective enough a break can stay away but not until the later laps. That was the plan this year, hold tight until the first trip up the Gamber Wall then look for a move at the top. That plan lasted all of 9 minutes and 44 seconds according to my new Cateye Strada computer. That was the moment I hit the deck for the first time in a road race, crit or circuit race. Sure, I've had plenty of near misses, I've ridden over piles of bikes, over fallen riders, been run off the road etc..., but never taken down. It was along the one section of the course where the yellow line was enforced and there were cones on the yellow line.
In a bike race there a good lines and bad line and good wheels and bad wheels to follow. Sometimes you don't have a choice of either one. A bad wheel is often worse than a bad line. A bad line may simply cause you to loose a few spots or get gaped, a bad wheel can ruin your day. More often then not you don't know you're on a bad wheel until it's too late, there were 100 riders in the race and I don't even know all of the MABRA riders let alone the guys from PA, especially the 4's. All I know is I was following a guy from the Bike Rack, hence forth known as the Bike Wreck. I think my teammate Kyle had warmed of these guys, one of them managed to crash in every race they entered last year or something stupid like that. Anyway, it should be pretty obvious when the jersey of guy who's wheel you're on looks like a piece of swiss cheese a month into the racing season it probably a bad wheel to be following. This guy was having his own personal game of chicken with the orange cones, constantly swinging in and out of his line to avoid them. I was doing everything to not overlap his wheel but as the pace abruptly slowed for a right turn I found myself coming up on his right just as he grabbed a handful of brakes and moved into my line. About to cut my front down, I in turn grabbed some brake, apparently a bit too much as I was expecting my wheels and pads to still be wet requiring just a little extra squeeze to stop on a carbon braking surface. I don't really remember much after that other than the odd sensation that something was terribly wrong.
As I landed chest first onto the pavement with my bike ontop of me still clipped in, I realized I had just endo'ed. WTF? Apparently a little too much brake was applied and I was on my head. I quickly got up, grabbed my water bottles and tried to replace my chain as the pack was still rolling by I knew I could catch back on. Somehow my chain came off and slipped back behind the chainrings and wedged itself between the small ring and the stay. After realizing I wasn't going to fix this as I couldn't even comprehend how my chain could even get like that, I walked to the side of the road and looked at my computer, 9'44". Fantastic. $30 and an hour and a half drive for less than 10min of racing.
After the 1/2/3 field came through I grabbed a ride back to the S/F. I jumped out and walked over to the tent, to my surprise they asked me if I wanted to get back in the race. Hmm, well seeing it's not usually allowed in a road race, sure. By that time I had taken stock of the injuries, a busted left elbow, a busted right knee, 6 holes in my right quad from the chainring, a couple of contusions on the left quad and a very sore chest. As I made my way back into the race, I realized how bad everything hurt since I went from sitting around to full on chase through the first turn and up the first rise to stay in contact. It was also hard to breath as my chest was even more sore than I had realized.
Rest of the race I pretty much just sat in and tried to stay near the front to avoid the accordian effect out of every turn. Last two laps we hit the Wall. It doesn't look like much going into it, but it hurts like hell when you're on it. It's only about 75m long but at probably 18% grade it stings and the short climb before it takes a bit out of you before you get to it. First time over I got stuck behind a Coppi guy who had to dismount and run it, fantastic. A couple of minutes later on the 40+mph winding downhill, I see some guy go down on my right and then his bike goes sliding across the road hitting another rider forcing him down right in front of me. Fortunately he slid off the road but the bike from the first guy was still sliding down the road in my path. Once again I grab some brakes and prepare to find out if I have the skills to ride over a moving bike at 35mph. The result was me "Tokyo Drifting" my rear wheel for about a 100ft and safely making past the bike and in the process ruining a $90 Vittoria Corsa EVO CX tubular tire. My teammate Mark thought I was a goner and was surprised to see me back with the group. Last lap up the wall my legs seized up and I left a gap open. I tried to close it on the fast decent before the turn back on to the main part of the course but just could catch the end of the pack. I couldn't really connect the finish anyway so I rode in with another which was probably a good thing since it looked like there was a really bad wreck in the last 500m, some Coppi guy was laying in the grass, I think he went to the hospital.
The aftermath, elbow looks similar, just smaller and without the teeth marks. Weird thing is this doesn't even hurt, well , except for when I knock into something.