Monday, August 16, 2010

Millersburg Stage Three- ouch

I was looking forward to this road race, needing some redemption for yesterday's abysmal criterium. The forecast was for a 30% chance of t-storms. mkay.

That loosely translated to "100% chance of nonstop heavy rain all morning long"

so... 97 riders in a hard driving rain on a less-than-selective road race course with freshly chip-sealed surfaces filled with loose stone and little rivers. Cat 3/4 field stacked with super-strong guys who should be in the 123.... yeah baby.. not.

I hated this race from the beginning. Again they all lined up stupidly early and started crit-style (clip in and sprint). Who the heck are these guys anyway? I guess they didn't realize that we had both lanes because the field wasn't using the left lane. I moved over and moved on up.

Pace was fast. The first two laps (of three) were near 26 average and the only real weird part was the section of "battenkillesque" loose stone where (of course) the surge came and we all went single file over the bumpy loose crud. Climbing the little kickers was interesting as well since your rear wheel would spin out if you pushed hard.

Again I could move up when I needed to after those sections and found a good spot in the pack, but I was getting increasingly unhappy in this race due to the way that people were riding in the pack. As the rain came down harder and harder and visibility got worse some of the riders were getting more and more aggressive and really doing dangerous stuff in the middle of the peloton (and accomplishing nothing). For the first time in a while I thought of quitting a race where I was strong and in contention. After the end of lap two (they always attacked the feed zone at the S/F line so it was impossible to even grab a bottle) I was really close to just saying "Screw you guys. I'm going home" in my best Cartman voice and riding off on some side street.

I chose to stay in the race and go for it.

Should have went with my gut though.

When it really rains hard, you have no brakes. That means for the first second or two you can grab them as hard as you can and nothing happens. It takes a while to dry the rims enough for the brakes to grab. Everybody should know this and act accordingly.

this is why I did not want to race in the large 3/4 field.

A few miles into lap three it happened. It's raining cats and dogs. You cannot see well. People are riding too aggressively and it's getting stupid. I hear yelling in front and see riders clumping and crashing. At this point I was just trying to stay on the wheels and doing 25-26 mph when the delta-V of the rider in front of me appears to drastically change and I am going in to him like a wall. I've got riders on both sides and behind me and the only option I have left is grab a whole handful of brake and hope for the best.

No way. not even close. It was as if there were no brake cables. I smash headlong into the pack in front of me and the riders behind me crush in to me and everything goes black.

I have always had the gift of relaxing and going with the flow in accidents. I think this has saved me from big injuries in the past and it happened this time as well.

the next thing I remember is being on the ground with someone's body directly on top of mine. I'm not sure if I was on top of another rider but that is possible too.

"are you ok?"

"yes, are you?"

"yes. I think so"

we slowly rise and untangle ourselves from eachother and the bikes. Mine is not attached to me, nor close by. I notice that the pile of riders takes up the entire road, shoulder-to-shoulder. the cars are stopped behind us. A human dam.

People are slowly getting up and picking their bikes up. Some are angry (I think it's stupid to get mad in this situation). Most are just wanting to see if they are ok.

I check myself. Hmm.


I have like NO injuries. Just a little rash on one knee. weird.

I check again. Yep. No injuries.

I find the bike. It's pretty far from where I was. It seems ok. Well, no. The wheels are all messed up. Apparently the front one got run over and is history. The back one is way out of true. A visit to the wheel truck directly behind and I am back on the road, sorta.

I had to stop a few times to try and move the handlebars to some angle approximating straight, and the rear wheel was rubbing the brake a bit, but I got back on and finished the race. TT for a while, then a three-man TTT to the finish. 59th or something.

So, all in all, not such a good weekend, but I'm really happy to have survived that crash with little more than a few bruises (some of which I am still discovering today!)

time for a luck change.


  1. Yikes! A strait 3 pack is so much better than a 3/4 mix! In the women's races where they don't break out category at all, the norm is to start a RR like a crit to drop the new racers as soon as possible and then things settle down. A bit harsh on the new riders, but safer for everyone involved. Never had the "pleasure" of a 97 woman field though - rain or shine.

  2. Whew, I pulled out after the feedzone starting lap 3, must've just missed the wreck. I was wishing I had stayed in until I read your account.