Final race of the year yesterday at Kruger’s Farm on Sauvie Island. A cold one so I stayed in bed an extra hour and skipped the preride – it’s usually a pretty nontechnical course. That cost me about 10 seconds due to a bad line through a bog on the first lap, but the extra sleep was probably worth it. Of note, I had my best finish here last year (4th) so despite not breaking into the top 10 prior to this this year, the pressure was on.
Following the first lap, I found myself in the top 5 and feeling good. Shortly into the second, I was up to 3rd. By the end of the second, I was into 2nd with a nice gap back to 3rd. From there, the battle was on with the race leader.
I scratched away at the his gap through the third lap and finally reeled him in and overtook him about halfway into it. Assuming he was fully gassed from the early lead he blistered out to, I figured a steady pace would make the race mine… He had other ideas.
He closed the gap back up in the fourth lap, passed me, and powered away in the fifth. Fortunately, he spent himself a little early, I recognized this, and was able to take the lead back and put a little distance on him in the final lap. A bobble nearing the end (me looking back to check on him in a technical section) brought him within striking distance with roughly a minute to race. I put the hammer down from there and held on for the win.
Unfortunately, he got closer at the finish than I anticipated and was able to sprint to the line for me. He didn’t make it, but clipped me at the finish line (a guy winning a race shouldn’t be ejected from his bike by someone coming up from behind – I was ahead of him and finished ahead of him so it’s entirely his responsibility to not put his bike where I am or am going – basic racing and riding rule of thumb, but mistakes happen and I’d happily grab a beer with him if it were to come up). My lip met the ground first, then my nose, and finally the front of my helmet. At 25mph, a face doesn’t get along with pavement very well. Why the race finishes on pavement is beyond me and hopefully something that is addressed in the future (already contacted the organizer), but I digress.
My face… I layed on the ground in shock as the medics on-site and EMTs that arrived took care of me. Didn’t seem like a concussion, but apparently I had split my lip and lost some teeth. Ugh. The ER was the order of the day. I was able to save a handsome chunk of change by having an awesome friend and teammate take me in. He also arranged for my car to get home too so I can’t thank him enough. I’m either on the hook to watch his kids for a night or take the whole crew out to something fun. I chose to go to the hospital closest to our home and Heather walked to meet us there.
The hospital stay was a lengthy one. We arrived around 11:15 and didn’t get home until 8 or so. My lip (probably about as gnarly a “split lip” can get) required a plastic surgeon to be called in for some trimming and a dozen stitches – I don’t anticipate my modeling career to take off after this. I also suck at growing a mustache so that’s not much of an option either. Two front teeth are busted in half, I’ve got a pretty sweet puncture in my shin from who knows what, and abrasions all over my face.
But… I won probably one of the most epic Category C races in history. Time for an upgrade?
It’s not going to be an easy recovery (liquid diet!), but my legs are still good, my trainer setup is amazing, and Heather has been incredibly caring and helpful so I couldn’t ask for much more.
As far as material damages go, my wallet hurts a bit from the ER, the dentist will probably dent it some more, my helmet is toast, the lenses in my brand new glasses are scratched, and I’ve yet to see my bike, but as I woozily recall my face really saved it and it appeared to be in good order. If not, it needed an overhaul and for the wheels to be rebuilt so hopefully the frame is alright. Haven’t seen my kit yet, but we’re due for a new sponsor next year anyway.