I had my reservations about doing the track OCUP over this weekend but I signed up for it anyways. There was the usual crowd of racers that I've raced with before at the Forest City Velodrome and others that I raced with at Nationals. But, like I said, I signed up anyways.
Friday night wasn't spectacular. I don't really know why, but my mind wasn't on it. I couldn't seem to hold the pace in the points race qualifier and ended up finishing 14th. I need to be 12th place or better to race the final. It is really a testament to mind over body because I have suffered before, and managed to hang in or more like driving the pace. This time, I guess I just gave up. I didn't really want to be there, and the results showed. However, I managed to loan out my wheelset (with a disc) to a friend, Conrad M. who when on to lap the field in the points race final and placed third overall joining the growing ranks of masters racers that have beaten the mighty Steve Bauer to the finish line.
Not being able to "bring it" on the friday annoyed me enough to WANT to race on the Sat night where it was the scratch race and the keirin. In the scratch race, I felt the same pain as the night before, but this time, I kept going and eventually it settled down. 30 laps and again and the top 12 placed moved through to the final. There was no way I quitting and not making it through. Somewhere about 4 laps in, I came over the pack and drove it hard down on front. I prefer to set the pace rather than react to it. I did managed to get a small gap, but given the strong nature of the group, I was pulled back within 1/2 a lap when Paul Beit of NCCH came over me and said "Let's get this done". From that point on, it was racing buddies Paul Beit, Steve Grundy, and Conrad M. and myself driving the pace at the front as we counted the laps down. It was tough, because every time I pulled off the front on the 1/2 lap, I had to find a hole to get back in with some of the newer riders leaving gaps probably where they should have not been. A few times, one of these guys go into the rotation sometimes leaving gaps and sent the pace yo-yo'ing. Regardless, we drove drove the pace hard. I could see the entire peloton lined up single file behind us. I figured so long as the pace was kept high, guys would not be able to sprint over us. All was going well until the finishing stretch with 5 laps remaining showing. I don't really know what happened, from what Beit tells me, I was filling a hole behind him, when I got squeezed by one of the newer riders riding on the red. So, I ended up riding between the red and the black lines with new where to go and half wheeling Biet. I screamed "STICK STICK STICK" but it was too late. My front wheel clipped Beit's rear wheel. From that point on I hit the concrete, and slid down and was heading head first towards the glass barrier. From the video taken by a spectator (to be posted later), it appears that my bike hit the glass on the entry point on the track snapping the front fork. 6" more, and apparently, that would have been my head. I was very lucky. I ended up sliding almost into Chantal Thompson, starter for the race, who to had to jump to avoid me. If only video cameras were allowed on bikes at the track, that would have made a great on bike video adding it to the video taken from the stands. Apparently, it was a spectacular crash. To see the video of the crash, CLICK HERE.
I laid on my back just below the start/finish line with a crowd of commies and medical people gathering around me. While everyone tells me I hit the deck head first, I didn't feel like anything much happened - other than travelling some 40m on the concrete because we probably were going 45km/h. Luckily, no one else went down. Unfortunately, I have far too much experience crashing in bike races, so I know what happens next: the questions: Do you know where you are? I got that and stopped myself from saying, "I'm Santa Claus, I'm at the north pole and why is it snowing?". I still think I muttered part of that before I explained I just crashed out of a race at the Milton velodrome, had to say my name, birth date, etc, etc, etc.. Why is it now one ever answers the question "How is the bike?" Honestly, I had to ask that several times. I will heal, the bike won't. Everyone insisted I not move while the medics checked for broken bones and neck injuries. Honestly, I was fine. I know from experience that if I don't feel pain laying down, and I could stand up and not feel dizzy, I'm good. If I stand and feel fait, bring out the stretcher, and call the medical bus. But that didn't happen. I was fine and walked down to the infield to get a few bandages applied.
I finally got back to look at the bike and found the front forks smashed, and a small crack in the front wheel. Last season, I had a scary incident with the bike where i thought I would be without a track bike and bought a cheap alloy frame, just in case. So, that will be put into service until I can get a replacement fork from China (hongfu-bikes.com). I'm not sure what I can do about the front wheel.
The end result of the crash was my bike was trashed, so I could not finish any of the races of the evening. I have a hole in my knee where I obviously landed and slid. I had a gash on my side where slid across the concrete. I had a small crack in my helmet which otherwise was only scuffed up. I went to the hospital shortly after the crash, on my own, to get the hole in my knee stitched up because I know that Saturday night at the hospital can be busy (the emerg ended up being empty). It was a rough night until I got up and took pain meds. My knee is a bit stiff from the stitches and the swelling, but the more I move around the better if feels. I consider myself lucky because regardless of how I land in a crash, I rarely get a concussion. Knock on wood, it never happens. I also have to think 6" more, and it would have a different story.
So, will I race again? Of course. Unfortunately, crashing happens. It is a fact of bike racing. I still have the rod in my leg from my first bike crash, yet I still keep racing. (Rod in the leg: went over the bars at 40km/h at Midweek and broke my femur)