I’ve survived two crashes in this race so far. One was on the bike.
The other happened Wednesday night at roughly 4 AM. I woke up to close the window when I heard some roosters calling and I passed out from light headedness. This has happened to me before, one time resulting in me landing on a printer and injuring my back. A couple weeks later when I’d recovered, I smashed the printer with a hammer in revenge. This time I fell against a wall, luckily head-first because I fell to the right (the side of my still-weak collarbone). Next to hit was my shoulder. I came to a few moments later, staring up at the dark ceiling not having any idea where I was or how I got there. Slowly, things began to come back to me and I realized what had happened, and had a moment of panic as I tested out my shoulder, seeing if I had re-broken it. Nope, all good. I got up and went back to bed with a bad headache.
I was just finishing telling my teammates Ian and Steve about this the next morning when Lang walked in and heard the tail end of it and asked me, “What was that loud bang last night? I thought you fell down the stairs.” I said, “I passed out when I got up to close the window…wait, you heard it and thought I’d fallen down the stairs why didn’t you come see if I was alright?”
Of course, Lang couldn’t be bothered. Or blamed of heartlessness for that matter. Other than food, sleep is the most crucial aspect of recovery during stage races, and thanks to early starts here at Cascade the past few days, there is never enough of it.
Thursday was the time trial. It hurt a lot and took me 32 minutes and 51 seconds. I placed 119th. Ouch.
I woke in the middle of the night with a sore throat, probably because I slept with the air conditioning on, which every bike racer KNOWS will make you sick. I had bad dreams.
Friday was the Cascade Lakes road race. It hurt even more than the time trial and the pain was spread out over 3.5 hours so it hurt for a lot longer too. For the most part, my sore throat disappeared after eating breakfast and watching part of the Tour before heading to the race–our normal routine here now, which feels like we’ve been doing for weeks but it’s only been a couple days. I felt good riding over to the race start. It was going to be semi-hot (only mid 70’s actually) but that was good enough reason to break out our new summer jerseys, which are mainly white.
The race started out with a long neutral section which was so slow and easy that some people got off to walk their bikes because balancing on them without any forward motion was too difficult. After a couple miles of neutral, I took the downhill corner onto the non-neutralized section first, ready for the cross wind false flat and looking to follow the attacks. Turned out there was still another kilometer of neutral and I ended up not attacking, which was wise because we started out with a 14 mile climb up to Bachelor. I had never made it up this climb before with the main group; the past two times I’ve done this race I’ve been off the back in a groupetto all day long trying to make the time cut. I was pretty worried about it today, though I knew I was in better climbing shape and also lighter. Things began to get hard about 25 minutes into the climb as we approached the long flat section close to the top of Mt. Bachelor (after that it kicks up again). It’s vital to make it in the main group at least to this flat section, otherwise you’re 100% screwed. The pack had split up with some large breakaways up the road, but for the most part it was still all together and likely coming back over the top of the climb (which it did). I was still feeling pretty comfortable, especially compared to last year, and I knew I’d make it with no problems this time. Until some idiot crashed me.
We were the only two that went down. I suffered only minor road rash and luckily had crashed on my left side. I got up and tried to get my bike sorted out as quick as possible. The bars were crooked and the shifters were both bent in and the front wheel was flat. I tried forcing the bars back to normal at the stem, but couldn’t get them to budge. I ended up having to get a neutral bike, the whole process taking 3-5 minutes, though it felt like hours–I mean like seven or eight minutes maybe.
The caravan was long gone. Winger had waited for me, and Joe helped me get back up to the tail end of the dropped riders. With quite a bit of effort I made my way up through the caravan and got onto the back of a large group of dropped riders. We caught the peloton on the descent after a few miles and from there on a lot of the race was pretty easy (easy as in no 40 minute climbs). I got into one promising breakaway that contained two Bissels, a Kelly Benefits, a Chipotle, and a Pure Black racer but my coach and former teammate, Sam Johnson, didn’t want me to steal any of his thunder and lead the charge to bring us back (just kidding, but only sort of). I spent the rest of the hour or so that was left until the final climb just sitting in and conserving for the gut and brain-busting climb up the shorter but steeper side of Bachelor. The final climb hurt a lot and I finished in a large group 2:05 down on the leader, which was Cesar Grajales again (he won the first stage). I was in a group with Steve and Ian and I gave Ian a fake push for motivation as we crested the final steep section. If I’d given him a real push I would have dropped myself. Lang was our highest placer today and finished 25th in a group that was only 35 seconds down.
The crit is this evening and I’m definitely sick now and I feel like shit, even after 12 hours of sleep last night. Luckily today is the easiest stage to have a head cold for and tomorrow I’m planning on being recovered.