RACE REPORT #2 Schwab Series, Wheels of Thunder CAT 4
Here we go, race #2. Two races in the same morning, not a bad way to kick off the season. This one was the open category 4 race (as apposed to the 35 and older category 4 I did earlier). One thing about Colorado, there are a LOT of CAT4 racers… Another 60+ were lined up for this race – in the middle of March.
For some reason, this race was a LOT different than the earlier one. Not as hard or aggressive, we stayed in a pretty tight bunch almost all the time. I never really even saw the front of the race, I guess I was a little tired and content to hang out in the rear and just use the race as extra training and practice.
Things started heating up with about 5 laps to go. One thing that makes this course interesting was a 30mph corner at the bottom of a gradual downslope. I was riding along tucked in the group when I heard the beginnings of that all-too familiar sound. Metal-rubber-asphalt-flesh. If you’ve ever startled (or been startled by) a rattlesnake, you know what I mean when I say that you interpret that sound as danger faster than an eye can blink. Same with a crash in the middle of a bike race – the sound reaches you at Mach 1, but your brain processes it at Mach 3. DANGER!! It happened, some dude touched wheels with another guy, grabbed his brakes, and came across my teammate’s (Jay) wheel. I was right behind Jay and missed the carnage by a whisker, feeling quite proud of myself for staying upright by going off-road through the weeds while the other guys went arse-over-elbow along the asphalt.
There was no way I would be catching back on the race this late in the game, so I swung around and helped Jay get back on his bike. He was bloodied up a bit, and trashed both brake/shift levers on his NEW bike ($400 – ouch!). I thought he would just pack it in, but no – off he goes riding single-speed style. Cool.
The pack caught us and we hopped back in (since this was a ‘training’ series, that was allowed). We were not allowed to take part in the final sprint, though. The next two laps went by pretty quickly, no one was off the front. It was going to come down to a big ol’ sprint finish. Yee-haw. Not. Instead of swinging off to the side and coasting across the line, yours truly starts winding it up (like a DOPE). Oh yeah, smelling that finish line! Please…
Let me explain my line of thinking. I rationalized sprinting based on a couple of factors. 1 – I had been lapped because of a crash, I hadn’t been dropped. 2 – I wasn’t sprinting for the win, just using it as a chance to practice. Well, in a totally straight, closed road sprint (should have been safe). I crashed hard. Two guys right in front of me started leaning on each other. I should have immediately shut my sprint down, but it looked like they were going to pull out of it. Yeah, right – this ain’t the pros. BAM! They both hit the deck. The pile of bodies and bikes was too high to hop, and my front wheel was already surrounded. Nowhere to go but down. At the last millisecond, before I T-boned the pile, I bailed. I did NOT want to hit and flip, so I landed on my right butt-cheek at 28 miles per hour. Ohhh, man. I do not recommend that to anyone. That was some unbelievable pain for the first 60 seconds or so. I really thought I had done some major damage – as the right side of me ground to a stop, while the left side continued toward the finish line. I am happy to say, I’m still in one piece and everything is as it should be. One guy broke his collar bone, another broke a finger. It’s a good thing I was in so much pain or I might have broken some more of their bones – I was torqued! I’m very glad my damage wasn’t worse. As if it wasn’t enough, as I was sitting on the ground cleching my jaw and squeezing my eyes shut to manage the pain, the biggest guy on our team (230?) came walking up and stepped on the tip of my finger with his cleated shoe. OUCH!!
So, I trashed a brand new pair of $hort$, and lost a bunch of skin sprinting for something like 30th place. Dumb.
Another credit towards my degree at the School of Hard Knocks.