[As posted in my blog]
Crash at El Dorado Park Tuesday Twilight Race - Tuesday, 19 AUG 2008
I guess I was overdue. I managed to get through 17 months without a crash until yesterday's El Do. Somehow when I do get tangled up in a crash, it is often at El Do.
This one was just a week shy of six years ago, back on Aug. 27, 2002, when I was in a major pile up that landed me in the hospital. Nearly the same time of year, nearly the same place on the road.
The night was a relatively slow pace. I think a lot of guys are winding down their seasons and some of the heavier hitters were missing. Tony Cruz (BMC)was there, fresh from a 4th place at Saab USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championships at Downer's Grove. But even Tony seemed to be taking it kind of easy. (I'll save you the suspense and worry and tell you Tony avoid the crash.) I still had interest in moving into the top 10 overall for the year.
It was all together with one lap to go. Aside from being slower, it was looking to be a typical sprint finish. We got half way, over the hill, and around turn three without incident. I was in my drops and jockeying toward the front. I found my way to the left side and started my move up as we rushed past the ranger station towards turn four.
My eyes were forward as I quickly moved from about 20 back to 12. I spied and targeted a pocket that would get me in 3rd or 4th spot around the last turn - a great spot to jump from to the finish. I was easily on my way there with plenty of room and momentum on the inside.
A second later, I went from licking my chops about a great finish to licking grass. Somewhere in the middle of the head of the pack, 8-9 deep, people bumped or got tangled or otherwise f'd up. People came out at me and someone hit me hard, sending me on a path to the parking blocks lining the road. I had no time to jump, so my front wheel smacked into the parking block and I went over the top left of my bike.
I closed my eyes as I started to somersault, tucked like a good cyclist-turned-instant-gymnast, but took a 2.0 for the landing. I went from upright (call it 0 degrees) to a little more than half way around (~210 degrees), where I came back to earth, first with the back of my helmet. I knocked out for a few seconds. When I opened my eyes, I was face first in the grass.
Oh yes, the grass. Lucky for me, I was first to crash and got my pick of green grass to land on. A similar fall on asphalt or concrete probably would have knocked me out longer/worse. Based on the injuries and soreness, I figure after I hit my head, I hit my right shoulder next, followed by my back, and then I flipped on the ground one more time.
I laid still for at least a minute: my standard approach to post-crash assessment. A lot of dudes will try to pop right back up and shake it off, but I prefer to wait to see what hurts to see if I should even stand up at all. I knew where I was, I knew my name, and after a minute or so, I couldn't feel any blood gushing or instant, throbbing pain, so I slowly rolled over and sat up, facing back toward the road.
At least six or seven other riders were on the ground. To my right was Craig Miller (Schroeder Iron). Craig was clutching his hand and said "my finger's cut off." He tried to sit up but I urged him to lay back as others did the same. Plenty of people had stopped to help out and calls to 911 were being made. [Latest word is Craig's finger was severed and unable to be re-attached, but he is recovering.]
I stood up and started to take stock of my body. My head was ringing and my shoulder sore. I looked down to see both my socks rolled down toward my feet. The right one had a wad of grass in it, and beneath the grass, I had two scrapes and an achy inside ankle.
My skinsuit was grass stained on the shoulder but otherwise fine, as was the rest of me. Unlike a slide on asphalt that results in lots of road rash, this crash was a launch and munch - air then hard impact, and perhaps some sliding but on nice slippery grass.
Once I figured out I was okay, I took a look at my bike. I first noticed a large rock jammed between my left brifter lever and the hood. Weird. The right brifter was turned in. My front wheel had a long scrape and dent where it obviously impacted the parking block. The rear wheel was out of true. My computer mount broke off the handlebar and I noticed later my two waterbottles had gone flying off to somewhere.
Hector Saldana (Cynergy) offered me a ride home. I didn't hesitate to take him up on it. I was able to open the brakes up and gingerly ride the bike back to his truck.
I felt bad the rest of the night and went to bed early. My body needed recovery rest.
Today I still have a headache and my neck is a little stiff and sore, but not as bad as I expected. My right shoulder, right forearm, and ankle are still sore. I figure the right forearm is sore because I was in the drops and the handlebar top corner smacked it hard after hitting the parking block. I attribute the ankle damage to hitting the bike as I went over the top, possibly on the top tube, handlebar or stem.
I looked the bike over more thoroughly this morning and it seems it's okay. I still haven't unwrapped the handlebar to check for carbon fiber damage, but it appears mostly good news.