(Thursday fans get the reference.)
It’s probably the most sickening noise and sensation I have ever heard/felt… the sound of my head slamming into the asphalt at 29.1mph. For four years I have lived in fear of the day I would crash on the road in a serious manner, so when I heard the brakes and clanking of alloy and carbon and human bodies in front of me my heart sank. At the speeds we were traveling I had less than a second to react, and with no place to go, my only option was to follow the laws of physics, and launch off my bike (which had hit a bike in the road) and fly head first into the asphalt. People told me I screamed, but I really don’t remember. I just remember the sensation of my head slamming into the ground, and the instant pain in my left calf muscle. I remember trying to stand and the pain being severe enough that I couldn’t and I grabbed for one of the other racers that was already back on his feet. A WY Highway Patrolman rushed over and picked me up and carried me over the guardrail and laid me under the overpass. He was amazing and attentive, grabbing his first aid supplies to clean the road rash on my knee and shoulder, and doing a quick neuro exam. Before long I was carried by the patrolman into the back of an ambulance, and whisked away to the hospital.
All because of a flatten dead crow in the road. I’ve always had severe trust issues during road events, whether it’s rides or races because really in all reality your well-being is reliant upon everyone around you. Some guy swerved when he saw the crow, the guy behind him touched wheels, more wheels touched, and there you had half the lead pack on the ground, and me in an ambulance…
So the Dad Dog Road Race was actually going pretty well for me. I decided to try to be smart this year, and not pull at all and just follow the moves. Last year I had been dropped before the turn around, yet this year 34-35 miles in I was still with the lead pack and able to respond to surges in pace and attacks. I was out to win it, and my plan was going well… until, you know… that crow. That had be rotting and festering for days probably, under that underpass… flat as a pancake… so flat a road bike would have just rolled over it. (I’m not bitter, really. I just don’t have fear of running over flat objects with my road bike.)
So crashing… yes… there’s actually parts of being in the hospital that are fuzzy, conversations that I do not remember. My head CT cleared me of any skull fractures or brain injuries, and numerous leg X-rays lead to the conclusion I had a calf muscle strain. Out the door I went, hobbling on crutches. Luckily I have a stash of dressings at home that have always sat there “just in case,” so I took it upon myself to clean out my road rash and slap Tegaderm on all of it, and then settled onto the couch for a night of Jurassic Park and “woe is me.” I’m doing ok as of now, considering. I can walk around with a limp, but I’m walking. My left shoulder is probably one of the most problematic things, as I have little range of motion due to pain. My wounds are healing, though still very tended. My head is bruised and swollen, and I still feel fuzzy, but I’m surviving.
This was the race report I was hoping I wouldn’t have to write. In all honesty, I’m not sure when I’ll be comfortable riding, let alone racing, on the road with a large group of people again. I just know it could’ve been so much worse (or could’ve not happened at all). My Rudy Project Sterling helmet did it’s duty, taking the impact and cracking. I’ve always been a strong advocate of helmet use and am uncomfortable even riding around the block without one, and now I unfortunately/fortunately know first hand why helmets are a must when on a bicycle.