Monday, June 15, 2009

Tour de Mont Unpleasant

It's been a few weeks since my last official race and my form really seemed to be coming around so I decided kinda at the last minute to add the Tour de Mont Pleasant road race to my calendar. Originally, I had omitted it because the race was almost 3 hours from my house, but with my fitness improvements over the last few weeks, I was eager to test myself.

The race took place in the quaint, villageque downtown of Mont Pleasant - The town went all out putting this race on! All the streets were blocked off and there were grandstands and tents everywhere. They even got retired pro, Frankie Andreau as the announcer, which was pretty cool. All in all, I give the promoters and volunteers some big props for a race well done!

My race (Cat 4) started at 10:24 AM and was one loop of 33 miles and pretty much flat as a pancake. Typical Cat 4 races are usually 45 - 60 miles long, so this was kind of on the short side. Oh well, shorter distance makes for faster racing.

The weather was sunny and high 60s, awesome weather for a bike race. The race started without much delay and the peloton quickly chewed up the miles. It was a pretty straight forward race with a few turns, but mostly long straight aways. I chased down a break and took a couple pulls, but I mostly stayed sheltered in the group. As we neared the final couple of K's, the group really started to ramp up the speed. That's when the Tour de Mont Pleasant quickly degraded to the Tour de Mont Unpleasant and finally, the Tour de Mont Painful.

Sizing up your competition involves not only noting who is strong and a threat so you can keep an eye on them; but also who is squirrely or lacking bike handling skills so that you know who to avoid. A team mate of mine warned me about a certain rider (we'll call him "Blue") about 1/2 way through the race and I noted that he was all over the place. I did a pretty good job of keeping away from him but there he was, about a 1/2 bike length in front of me to my right.

With each 100 meters or so, it seems like we are getting faster. I know we have one more turn to the final straightaway and that I need to hold my spot going into that final turn so I can shoot out of it. This is the only way I'll even get a top ten.

That's when I feel "Blue" bump into my handlebars with his knee/hip. I'm no awesome bike handler but I do know how to handle some bumping and I stay upright with only a slight waver to my front wheel. I gave "Blue" a little shout and I thought we were fine. Then he does it again, but it's much more forceful and I almost loose it. This time, I'm just yelling, "Woah, woah, woah!!" "Blue" veers away from me way too strongly and then overcompensates back towards me and ends up crossing right in front of me and knocking my front wheel to the left and taking it completely out from underneath me.

As my body hits the tarmac, I'm vaguely aware that there may be some riders directly behind me (there were) so I roll onto my right side so that my back is to the riders behind me. One racer slammed into my leg with such force that his tire left a "rug burn from the back of my hamstring all the way down to my calf.

Then it's quiet. I take an assessment. The first pain I notice is my right index finger nail. I'm almost afraid to look at it, it hurt that bad. Through wincing eyes I take a look and it's totally fine, just looks like the nail got bent back. I try to move, everything else seems ok. I get up and notice that my hip and elbow hurt and that my helmet is loosely flopping on my head.

Evidently, my head hit the ground with enough force to rip out all the retention straps in my helmet. Still not sure how it was still on my head. My straps did give me a nice little scrape on the back of my neck...

I locate my bike, which is tangled up in "Blue" (thanks Bob Dylan), and I carry it off the course. I grab another guy's bike and take it off the course as well. Meanwhile, the paramedics arrive and are attending to "Blue" and another guy who's face looked like Carrie after the pigs blood got dumped on her.

I take a quick look at my bike, my chain is off, each wheel is out of true and my handlebars are a good 5-10 degrees off center. I remount my chain and release the brakes so they don't rub on the rims. Then I try to straighten my handlebars but I can't so I just soft pedal the last kilometer across the finish and head to first aid.

My no DNF record still stands! Although I did finish dead last among the finishers in 33rd place.

A special thanks to my team mates Gino and Rodney for helping me out at first aid - you guys made an unpleasant experience just a bit more bearable. Thanks!

Gotta get Kinetic to look at the bike this week to make sure everything is fine... Keep your fingers crossed...

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