Someone told me there are 2 types of bike racers, those who have crashed and those who haven't. I was very happy to fall into the latter of the two, until tonight. I had my first smash and while it hurts it really wasn't as bad as it could have been. It happened on an uphill sprint you see so there wasn't too much skin loss but I landed hard on my shoulder and thought I might have done in my collar bone. Alas it was just a hard landing and unlike my legs it seems my upper body has some resilience. We were sprinting pretty hard - out of the saddle stuff.
It was the biggest smackdown I've ever done and the biggest group I've ever ridden in. About 12 people altogether. We set out steady but I was not comfortable in the pack so I hit the front and pushed the pace. No one was in trouble which was a good sign. The smackdown was taking shape and that shape was one of suffering and torture. On Austin I hit the front again and pushed the pace on my pull up the hill. A group of 4 of us broke away. I'd never ridden with the other 3 guys although I have seen Donnie ride around Providence a lot. He is the spitting image of my friend Hamish Thorpe. I've no pics to show you so you'll have to take my word for it. Anyway, it was Donnie who made the first move and only Evan responded. I was dropped as was Evan's team-mate but not really dropped, rather we took our time bridging which we did comfortably before the first of 2 climbs up to the first sprint point. It was on the first climb that I made my effort, about 450 yards out. The three lads grabbed my wheel, something that I had not experienced recently or expected. I was pushing hard and slowly Evan and I gapped the other two. About 150 yards out from the line, just as the hill was about to level out Evan came around me. We both held our ground and then next thing my quick release got caught in his back wheel and I ripped out 5 of his spokes, causing me to flip off the bike and onto my shoulder. It all happened so quickly. I was on my back and my shoulder was very sore. Evan was pissed because he has been having bad luck with losing spokes lately and I was very nervous because he has a new frame. I didn't realize until an hour later that he actually didn't go down! So at the end of the day we both lost spokes, I need new handle bar tape, and we both missed out on what surly would have been an awesome training ride full of attacks. I was so excited all afternoon for this and its such a letdown to have it end. Its my last smackdown of the season given I'll be traveling for the next 2 Tuesdays.
My love/hate with biking continues. I LOVE the pain, the suffering, the tactics, and the constant attacks. I don't love the fact that the machines and everything else cost so much compared to running and I don't love that punctures or crashes happen so often. I mean, how have they not come up with ways to prevent punctures! I don't like all the nutrition and the need to constantly drink/eat. I struggle with drafting. I'm not comfortable on someones wheel so I tend to lead a lot which means I will never really win anything. But the pain is awesome. Its a killer sport and I find that it is easier to really punish myself because I'm not great and there is no pounding. In running my knees get sore before I get tired these days. So where's the fun in that? Onward and upward. Getting a new bike very soon and will put another winter in the legs so I can race a full season next year. Down but not out.........