Ahh.... shoot. Here's the story.
I showed up later than I wanted and got about 10 minutes of warm up before the master's race. Tom Humphrey, Brian Limkemann and Mike Vega joined me from the team, and we even had a little time to communicate before the race.
It looked like about 30 or so at the line including a bunch of MVC and Stark and some Lake Effect. They again started the women's race first, which is silly because we catch them within the first lap, but whatever.
For the first 6 or 7 laps, I was working hard to get a warmup... which wasn't hard since the field was moving. Attacks going off, gaps opening and closing typical race start stuff. It was nice to see Tom and Brian working near the front, since my legs were not feeling it at that point, and I was hoping to have something if the attacked happened with about 5 to go like last week.
At one point, I felt Tom give me a hand to the tail end of the field...and when I looked back, there was no one else behind me. It looked like we had hacked off a big chunk already.
The first prime was rung, and the TriTech guy took it again. The pace heated up shortly thereafter, and through the parking lot a group of 8 rolled off the front. Tom was working on bringing it back with TriTech on his wheel, another guy, Dick Brink and me. Dick was telling the guys in front of him to pull through or the group was gone... no one flinched. I half thought about going to help Tom, but instead, attacked hard before the bridge in an attempt to get up to the front group. It's nice to know that Tom and Brian could now sit in and recover from their efforts until the something new happened.
No one followed, and I closed the 50+ meter gap before the finish line. OK, now I can recover until my turn to pull. Except the guy two in front of me blew hard and a gap opened. Matt Turi from Stark was on his wheel, and he couldn't get across either and told me to go around. F@($&@ was all I could say as I went to close the next gap. I made that one also.... I'm just glad my legs showed up for those efforts. Matt made it up shortly afterward and we were away with 8.
Matt Turi and John Lowery from Stark, John Lorson and another Orrville, Sal Ponzio from MVC, Rudy Sroka from Lake Effect, and Tom Frueh from Carbon/Columbus/Every One and Their Brother Racing, and me. A well represented break of really good riders... This was the move to be in. Everyone started working, and we were away.
Matt lasted a lap or two before we were down to 7. Cool, break of 7 for 7 paying spots. I just need to make it to the finish and I'm in. Prime lap for a Chipotle Burrito. I am NOT sprinting for a freakin' burrito! I just want to make the finish with this move. Lorson jumps and gets it, hangs off the front for a little bit, and we're back together rotating through again.
I keep hearing cheering for me through the parking lot. That's encouragement. With about 7 to go, I realize there are 3 john's in the break. So those yells might not be for me. HA! My only thought is to NOT get dropped from the break, since I would have to work harder on my own than I will to stick with the break. And I very well may be able to get better than 7th in a sprint.
We're lapping parts of the field and with 6 to go, and they ring another $10 prime. Through the parking lot, Lowry and Lorson lead with Sal and then me. As we exit the lot, they slow slightly, obviously thinking about the prime sprint. I assume the games will start shortly since Rudy and Sal will not want to take Frueh to the line for a sprint. So I'm going to just follow wheels, and work for the finish.
As we make the sweeping turn toward the bridge things get fuzzy. Lowry and Lorson, are in the front, and Sal starts hollering at them for something. It's the kind of holler you know is NOT going to end well... either Sal will avoid something bad, or there will be a wreck holler. Then Sal touches wheels with one of the guys in front.... wobbles, and goes down. I was already in the slow motion planning stage, I need to do my best cross/crash avoidance now!
Sal falls away from the rider in front, right in front of me, I steer between him and his bike. My front wheel passes within inches of his helmet, as his bike is sliding to my right.... I tried to then hop over his front wheel... but I think I was too busy avoiding Sal... I hit the wheel, and somehow find myself sitting on the ground face the way I had just come.
SH!T!!! Sal does not look good at all! Rudy is also on the ground to my (now) right side. My bike is in pieces on the left. Another rider (I think) is almost immediately with Sal helping him. So I can just get my bearings. My fork is broken... damn, I'm not getting back into the race now! Rudy asks if I'm alright, and... I am. He gets up and goes for the ambulance. I just sit there for a few minutes. Sal starts moving more and talking, though it's obvious that he is not doing well. A spectator gets to us, then a park ranger. I figure I can head back and get cleaned up since I'm not going to be helping anyone now. So I grab my bike parts and walk to the car.
I'm pretty disappointed though very lucky. I ended up with some extremely minor scraps and a slightly sore wrist. Nothing compared to Rudy and Sal, even if my bike ended up the worst for it. Rudy broke his arm and is in a cast, out for 6 weeks. Sal spent a couple days in the hospital, with broken ribs and more. I could have raced on Sunday, if I had another race ready bike. Instead I did 3.5 hours training on the road riding my cross bike... so I have much to be thankful for.
I have no idea if the fourth guy went down, or just stopped to help or what happened. He was with Sal REALLY fast and didn't seem to be at all hurt himself. I don't even know what shirt he was wearing. It kind of points to the fallibility of eye witnesses. My focus was on getting through the event without crashing, and I at least avoided injury. After that, I have details, but they may not be important to what happened at all.
Aside from the wreck, my biggest disappointment is not being able to talk to the guys in the break afterward. It's the first time I made a break like that, and I wanted tips on how we rode. Should I have been doing something different? What's the break protocol? Those types of things. The break consisted of some really good racers, and I wouldn't expect that kind of incident with these guys. But a moment of inattention I guess is all it takes. I'm super happy that I made the bridge to the break, and how that part all worked out. I think I did things correctly, and hope my decisions through the crash didn't effect the guys behind me in any way.
Next step is to get a bike together. I've got to replace my fork, and rebuild my race wheels. I might be able to put together my old bike for this weekend. Still some inventory to do.
Speedy recovery wishes to Sal and Rudy. I've only heard about their injuries on the other blogs. I'm just looking forward to seeing them back in the field... and maybe having another go at getting in the break with them.
The Hardest Hour
59 minutes ago