I renewed my "Skin Donor of America" membership yesterday.
I was up in Sisquoc/Santa Maria for a Pro/1/2 road race. Road races are usually safe so I don't wear gloves when I do them. It turns out, even if I had worn gloves, they wouldn't have helped me here.
We were a quarter of the way through lap 3 of a 7 laps, 75 mile road race. An attack had went and I was on the break at the rear. The guy in front of me, a Veloworx rider, was clearly tired from the effort. I knew I should get around him because he might gap me out, but I, too, was winded from the effort and decided to conserve energy and stay tight behind. Bad decision.
On the descent into a sharp right turn, the Veloworx guy swung out quickly and unexpectedly, clipping my front wheel. He was setting up to get an angle on the turn but did so erratically. I almost held on to recover from the hit, but the speed was too quick (30-40 miles per hour). I fell over to my left, hit and slid on my left shoulder, butt, and the rear of my helmet for a bit, then flat along my back for a short moment, and then tumbled head over heals landing face down in the dirt and brush, head facing the direction I just came down.
I laid still for a while to allow it all to sink in and to make sure I wasn't seriously injured. I felt okay (nothing broken), so I sat up and took assessment of the damage. It turned out to be quite fortunate. I have road rash on my left side, mostly my left shoulder and left butt cheek. I've got a little road rash on the other side of my back but it's minor. My legs are fine and so are my arms. My middle finger on my right hand split at the tip but didn't require stitches so that's going to be fine too. If you look closely at the photos, you can see a big red spot on the lower back of my head. This is bruising from the impact trauma of the helmet to my head. It's tender but doesn't hurt unless I touch it. This is an excellent example of why wearing a helmet is smart and required in races. Without a helmet, I figure half of the skin at the back of my skull would be covering the asphalt and I probably would have had significant head trauma.
As far as equipment, my helmet is toast. I scraped up the Dura-Ace STIs, my seat, and pedals on the bike, but all seem to work fine. My Bontrager Race X Lite wheels are still true. I'll have to look over everything carefully later this week. My team clothing took a beating. The shorts have rips on the left side, especially where my rear-end dragged. My jersey is even worse, torn heavily at the left-rear shoulder and along the side. Nontheless, I believe experiments testing the viability of lycra as a defense against high-speed asphalt assault will continue. I hope not to pioneer this field, but am happy to turn over whatever results I do get to science. Some day we'll find a cure!
UPDATE 07/18: Yesterday, I put the bike up on the stand to get a close look and fix things up. I was gluing the seat where it got torn and had already straightened the STI brakes/shifters. My dad came by to drop off and pick some stuff up and he says to me, "Wow, this is too bad," while pointing at a big dent in the top tube. I had totally missed seeing it, as did everyone else the day before. It turns out my handlebars swung with enough force to the left to put a good size dent in the top tube. I hope I can still ride the frame but am concerned about structural integrity.
I figure I got pretty lucky considering the speed. Still, it was really frustrating because I had good legs in the climbs and was looking forward to a good, top ten finish in the race.
On a scale of 1-10, 10 being my best crash, this one gets a 5. No broken bones, minimal tissue-to-asphalt donation quotient, and no trip to the ER. I won't even need to see the doctor for a follow-up this week unless something wierd happens. I feel pretty good, and definitely fortunate all considered. I think I'm getting better at my crashing.
As always, gauze and Neosporin can be sent in lieu of flowers.