Sunday, June 04, 2006

Sundance- I took a beating, literally!

Although I woke up this morning unable to move my head and neck and feeling like I had been hit by a gas-guzzling SUV, I am very fortunate.
Yesterday was a beautifully day for a bike race and the Sundance venue is tough to top. We had a solid field of 19 pro's to do battle on the 4 lap 28 mile 4500 vertical feet of serpentine 1 track. The start was pretty quick up the pave road with Ali and his bumpin tunes leading the charge. Near the top of the first short climb it was obvious that EJ was going to spend the day by himself at the front. I felt ok but really enjoyed Ali's tune selection today so I was happy to follow him for a while. Once we got to the back climb I made a move and bridged up to Spanring and we completed the first lap about 45 seconds down on Jones. I slowly pulled away from Spanring on the paved climb and then my beating began. On a banked switchback I was in a normal 2 wheel slide when out of no where my wheels hooked up and I slammed the ground on the high side, no scrapes but I hit hard. I got going again pretty slow and let TS by while I tried to find my rhythm. I bridged up to him on the next climb and again followed him down the descent until the near fatal blow. We had just passed some lappers and were barreling through the meadow back into the trees when I find myself Supermaning off the trail headfirst into a large aspen, the only thing I saw was a rock kick off TS's rearwheel which I must of hit. The impact embedded dirt everywhere including my teeth and ears, I layed in the brush assessing the damage and praying that everything would move on commad. In my world of physical therapy spinal cord injuries are all to real and this is exactly how a high cervical injury occurs, a head first impact without time to get your hands in front of you. It's ironic that I am currently reading Christopher Reeves biography It's Still Me, and this is exactly what happened to him but on a horse. The lappers came upon me and pulled me out of the weeds, they were freaking out wanting to call the ambulance, I was able calm them down and told them I think I am ok I just need some time to regroup. My head and neck hurt and I new I would be feeling this for a while but I was elated to be able to move and get on my bike, I new I would not be able to catch back up to race for 2nd but I figured I had some time to play with and I could probably cruise around and maintain my position. So the next couple laps I rode conservatively monitoring the pace behind me so I could dispense my effort accordingly. I must admit I wanted to pull over and bag it but I was halfway done and talked myself into plugging away, I hate racing so defensively but it was that or spectate. The Raleigh faired pretty well with only the Reba lockout sheared off and some scratches on the bar and fork.
It's crazy to think this exact situation could have easily landed me in the ICU with a completely changed life ahead, not just for me but for my entire family and social network. I don't know if you call it luck or what but it scared me. What I can't figure out is why bike racers and most athletes in general are able to get back up and ride the same trail at nearly the same speed right after coming very close to severe injury, it happens all the time.
So I ended up 3rd but more importantlyI came away with a greater appreciation for the delicate nature of life and the fine line we often walk.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty brutal and I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes I wonder how in the world did I walk away from that. In my opinion, being an athlete at our level has some advantages. Not only are most women envious of our legs but we adapt certain reflexes and "skills" to protect ourselves from major injuries. I can't explain it much more than that, but I use it all the time when riding and many times in the winter skiing. you're not only skilled at riding a bike... but you also know how to crash.

10:29 PM


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