Paying Cash to Crash

Wilmington Crit – MABRA champs…I thought the course was great. Ups and downs. Lots of turns. Strong winds. It was tough conditions. But about 1/4 into the race it got much tougher when the light, sporadic rain became a bit more consistent and riders started hitting the deck. On the courses only significant downhill, which you approach after climbing and making a left, and exit making a sweeping right, the race was decided. As I made the turn I heard the proverbial yells of “crash!”, racers and side-liners yelling to slow down, and guys laying strewn across the street. With that, I heard a larger crash right behind me near the top of the descent. It quickly became apparent why. With all the commotion and urges from the crowd and fellow racers to slow, guys were hitting their brakes and losing control. It was too hard to do. A feather touch to the rear brake had you fish tailing. Steve Fife was just ahead of me and I saw him slide left, then correct, go a little right, and straighten – luckily he didn’t go down as I would certainly have followed.

quick note: don’t yell “SLOW DOWN”. First off, we know to slow – it just makes sense. Were not going to speed up. Second, with adrenilin pumping, brain function depressed, and jittery reactions, you’re only going to get some guy jamming on his brakes, sliding out crashing, and bringing down a mess of people with him. Racers feed off each other – and in cases like this – the crowd too. So if everyone is screaming and carrying on – you’re going to get a domino effect. I know this won’t change, but J-H-C it would be nice if it did.

So, that was it. We avoided the carnage, slowly, but came out of the turn to see about 15 or more guys way up the road. The rest of what was left was strung out down the road, left to chase. Josh Kahney said it best. When it started to rain he made sure he got to the front. Smart racing, because that was exactly where you wanted to be to avoid the situation I now found myself in. Several laps of chasing ensued. I tried to keep the effort steady – like a TT – but I had a few ass clowns that kept attacking on one of the hills. Why? Hey Jens Voigt, you’re not going to bridge to that group solo you dumb-ass, so start working together. We got close at one point, but then the group up ahead, which was now dwindling from guys crashing out I presume, began to launch their own attacks, the gap went back up.

A few more laps later and the carnage was still continuing. I saw Jose Escobar go off the course after the downhill. He road outside the barriers for about 100 meters until he got a gap to get back in. A lap or so later I almost road off myself. I took the turn wide trying to avoid hitting my brakes and to keep my speed. For some reason it reminded me of cross racing when you’re sort of laying it out on a turn and waiting for the tires to hook up. Two laps later I did the same thing, but something a bit closer to Jose’s move. I initiated the turn, but started to slide, so I just kept going straight – right for the curb across the street. I avoided the hay, the barriers, and somehow ducked under the course tape. Then suddenly there was a car on my right side – perpendicular to me. At first I thought it was parked, then realized it was moving – at me! I heard screams from the crowd – an “oh my god” had me thinking I was toast. The long and short of it is that the course had 3 lanes, but one – the far one behind the barriers – was open to cars to allow them to exit the underground parking garages. I bumped the front end, shifted my weight, bumped the curb and was now along the passenger side of the car. My heart was in my throat and I nearly crapped myself. The small group I was with was now up the road so after checking my drawers, I road back up to the start/finish, unsure if this sort of incident warranted being let back in – as a crash gets you a free lap. It didn’t matter – I was shaken up. Chicken? Guess so, cause I called it a day.

Josh raced smart, stayed near the front, and never went down – a testament to his skills. He took 3rd in a two-up sprint to land the bronze. Frank and I were disposable pack fodder. I don’t know how many started the race, but not many finished. I would guess about 15. A crazy day. Too bad really, because as I said, the course was great – in my opinion.

Perhaps this was a blessing in disguise. My knee has been really hurting and only getting worse it seems. A few days ago I noticed a small bruise on the inside of my right knee. I don’t think they are directly related because there is two distinct regions on my right knee that hurt. I was contemplating doing the 1/2/3 race. The course was drying out and I felt like I should at least get some laps in. But during my warm up my knee really became uncomfortable. Hurting that much just spinning seemed like a bad thing. So I bagged it. On the drive home it started pouring. I don’t know what happened during the 1/2/3 race, but if they got even some of that rain it was likely a crash-fest again.

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~ by Indy on June 4, 2007.

One Response to “Paying Cash to Crash”

  1. […] best part of this race was that I stuck it out to race in the rain. After Wilmington I have been sketched out about racing – actually, even riding – in the rain. Racing at Seward […]

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