Fortunately the hotel we were staying at was only 5 miles from the crit course at Campbell U, so we were able to get an extra hour of sleep, take time eating breakfast and leave at 7:50 to get there well before most of the other teams.
It rained the night before so the course was wet, but did not look too bad. Should I race? I don’t think so. It was about 45F and there was no way I was putting on arm warmers over my wounds. Oh well. Kevin was warming up so I figured I’d go inside the building where registration was to warm up. I ended up in the registration room chatting and making jokes with a bunch of people including the VT rider who I crashed with the previous day.
“Just curious, how many riders are registered for C’s?” “7”. 7, that’s less than the number of places that get points. After a bike of joking with VT about racing in hoodies and basketball shorts I say “what the h***, sign me in”. VT already registered by this point.
At this point its 9 AM and the race is scheduled to start at 9:35 AM. I head back out to the car to get plan what I’m going to where when I see the Navy convoy come in. Well this means there would now be more riders than points. Well, I already signed in and I’m not going to quit now. Pinned the numbers on my long sleeve jersey then grab my shorts (not the bloody ones from the previous day) and my long sleeve jersey and head to the bathroom to change. Its go time.
Surprisingly everything actually felt ok for the most part. I head out to the car and do my normal race prep before warming up. Just when I finish prepping, the very official ACCC News reporter shows up and ask if I could do an interview. Me, talk about what I think and be on camera? Sure! During the interview he asked about the crash its effects, so of course I had to take off my jersey to show all the battle wounds. I’ll post the link to the video once its uploaded.
Once I am ready, I go to clip-in to my bike to warm up (right shoe first like always). “Why can’t I clip in to my bike? Oh, my shoes must be muddy from walking around yesterday.” I then turn my foot upside down and see the back half of my cleat is missing. Of course I only have 10-15 minutes until the race starts at this point. I see some of the riders I am friends with and I ask them what shoe size they are.
Fortunately one of the A Wake Forest riders had a close enough shoe size and I borrowed his right shoe. As his teammate said, I looked “very fresh with the bright yellow shoe on the left and white triathlete shoe on the right”.
Mens D race ends (Kevin got 2nd again! Time for him to upgrade!). I then do a practice lap with the C field and get to experience the brick turn for the first time. This was a bit scary at first, and it certainly didn’t help that it was raining.
Time to race. The ended up 4th out of the intial charge off the line, however my shoulder was in too much pain to get out of the saddle while everyone else was up the hill, so I unfortunately lost some position there. I was sitting about 7th or 8th going into the brick section which everyone took at different speeds and this caused the field to split. I ended up working with Joe from Wake Forest (one of the riders I worked with during the first NCSU Road Race the previous weekend.
We then passed 2 navy riders (including my buddy Marc) and they were not able to stay with us. Soon we caught the rider from John Hopkins (who is still wearing his old Carnagie Melon kit) and he worked with us. We then worked together and caught 2 more Virginia Tech riders. Our group approximately contained 7th - 12th places. We didn’t catch anymore riders from then on, but more importantly we didn’t get caught by anyone.
About 2/3 of the way through the race one of the Virginia Tech riders (both were sitting on the front) had too much speed coming out of the brick section so he was unable to make the turn and instead just went straight through the intersection. Fortunately he didn’t crash, but his race was done. Talking with him later he said “I was a little upset I missed the turn, but I was very happy I was able to get into dry/warm clothes again!”.
A few laps later we had a vehicle beeping at us from behind. We had to deal with 2 cars on the course already, so I figured this was another car and flipped them the bird (riding in DC has taught me well). All of a sudden the referee passed us. Oops. I then yell at the other 3 left in our group to hammer. This was our second to last lap so all we had to do was get to the finish line before to leaders to avoid getting pulled. We easily accomplished this and then were on the last lap.
I look at the other three riders, compare how they look with how I feel and attack on the hill. I even got out of the saddle which hurt my shoulder like crazy, however it would be worth it if I could pull away from the group. Joe caught my wheel when I went and then pulled in front to take a pull on the next straight. I had to ask him to slow a hair so I could stay with him, but this allowed the John hopkins rider to catch up. When I saw him coming, I just yelled at Joe to go. JH passed me right before the brick section. I gained a bit of ground on the two of them in the bricks, however I just didn’t have the legs to stay with them coming out of it. I just hammered to make sure the Virginia Tech rider didn’t catch me.
I was pretty happy with the result since I crashed the day before. I know I could have done better if I wasn’t injured, but such is life. Average heart rate was 189. Avg cadence 92, and average speed was 22 mph.
Saturday was looking to be a great race for me. 36 miles that were on great pavement and pancake flat. No, pancakes have more elevation change than this course did. This course was a flat as a piece of paper.
Kevin and I ate a quick breakfast at the hotel at 6 AM and rolled out by 6:30. We rolled up to the course a little later than normal since we had a 90 mile drive to get there. I had about 30 minutes to get ready, but fortunately I gambled correctly and pinned my numbers on the correct side before we got there. First small victory of the day!
Unfortunately we couldn’t quite see the start/finish line from our car (Navy’s gigantic trailer blocked the view) and I was not diligent enough to notice when everyone was lining up, so I was the second to last person to get to the line. Hooray for starting from the back of the field.
The neutral rollout was only about 150 meters long so soon we were racing at an intense 18 mph. Although the day was not windy, a lot of the course was open, so no one was interested in pushing the pace. The field was also only 2 lines wide, so I took advantage of this and moved up the left side into a much better position near the front. Ended up chatting with a Virginia Tech rider and the moto (the referee with the yellow helmet is definitely the best I’ve had yet) for about 3 miles or so.
All of a sudden the pace kicked up and we were hammering hard. This didn’t last long and we slowed down again after the next turn. About 1 mile later, the pace was pushed hard again. We were almost completely strung out and I was thinking to myself “well this is good. Being strung out in a line like this means there won’t be any crashed”. Oh how wrong I was. 150 meters after this thought occurred I heard and saw people going down ahead of me.
The crash went towards the middle of the road, so I slowed slightly and kept to the right. Once again the V-Tech rider was next to me. There were water bottles everywhere including one that scooted right in front of me, but fortunately it kept moving off the side of the road. Then all of a sudden a bike bounced into my path. “Oh s***”. I tried to move as far right as much as I could without pushing the VT rider off the road. Unfortunately my slight right movement startled him and he went off the road into the grass. He then tried to get back on the road by leaning into me. Boom. This knocked me over and I went sliding along the sharp asphalt at 27 mph. VT wasn’t so lucky either as he went shooting into a deep ditch on the side of the road (at least he didn’t hit the solid pole holding up the mailboxes there!).
Once everyone passes and I am able to take account of the situation, I notice a navy rider laying on the ground mumbling barely coherent words. Oh s*** again. I run over there to make sure he’s ok. End of the day, making sure everyone is ok is more important than racing. He was definitely not ok. The race organizer in the follow car came up and said we should not move in. At this point the Virginia Tech rider got out of the ditch and was laughing because he was covered head to toe in mud. Two NCSU riders who also went down came over.
About 5 minutes later the Mens D race was coming so we had to wave to the moto to slow them down so they could pass in the left lane. I saw my teammate Kevin sitting towards the front and yelled to him “You’re all that’s left Kevin!”.
We finally got the Navy rider off to the side of the road when no less than 7 emergency vehicles showed up (3 ambulances, 1 heavy rescue vehicle, 2 police cars, and 1 or 2 other vehicles. I have never seen this sort of response for a race crash before. While they checked out the Navy rider, I went around and looked for my bottle that popped out. No luck finding it, however I did grab plenty of other bottles that were laying around.
Once they finished checking out Navy I figured I should probably get my wounds checked out since they were starting to burn and my right shoulder was becoming a real issue. They cleaned me out pretty well then said “we’re going to have to scrub this one” pointing to right below my elbow. I could not see this wound because my shoulder would not allow me to twist my arm in the proper way to see it, but everyone there felt it was necessary to hold up their fingers and describe how bad it was. When the EMT started cleaning it, I started to feel a little weird, but I dealt with it. After 20 more seconds or so I realized I really need to sit down so I asked. “Are you feeling light-headed” “yeah”. The EMT took my blood pressure while I was sitting in the ambulance it was 78/50. WAY below normal. Fortunately I filled my bottles completely with gatorade that day and she said that I should chug the bottle I had. Gladly! Water sucks, gatorade is better!
After all was said and done, I had 3 giant gauze pads on the right arm and leg. I got a ride back from a local couple who were at the race to watch and help out if needed. The wife (who gave me the front seat and sat in the back) said “you look like you could use a few beers now” “only a few?”. I got back to the race area just in time to grab my camera and get pictures of Kevin crossing the line in 2nd place (in his first race ever!). Congrats to Kevin for doing such a great job.
It was a beautiful day outside (high of 65 and very sunny), so we decided to hang out and watch the other races. After those races we got subway with our buddies from Loyola and John Hopkins and then peaced to our hotel where I set myself up on my bed with the laptop, camera, ice on my shoulder, and my arm resting on a pillow.
A few hours later we went to Food Lion where I got medical supplies (including a 24 oz Heineken), some fried chicken from Bojangles (its the South, you have to get fried chicken when you’re in the South!). Back to the hotel to consume our findings. After that, time to shower. Took me about 10 minutes to get all the badages off, and after a long and painful shower I was feeling much better. I covered all my wounds in neosporin and set up to crash for the night, still not sure if I was going to race the next day or not. That would be decided in the morning.
Chandler is set to go off at 9 AM with the Mens D field while the rest of the spandex-clad Colonials roll out at 3 PM. Oh boy, long day. Wake up at 6:50 AM, get food at 7, our of the hotel by 7:30 after a decent breakfast that Chandler kept pointing out how much food the rest of us ate, while we reminded him we still had 8 hours until we had to race while he had 2. Get in the sexy minicooper, drive to Lake Jordan in Cape Fear, NC. Yes, the first race of the season was held in Cape Fear. Ironic? We’ll see.
Caught up with almost all the cycling friends who I haven’t seen since last April. There was a good amount of bro-hugging, high-fiving, hand shaking, and rocking out to Country Roads Remixes be blasted by WVU.
Long story short, Chandler ended up getting 5th in his first ever race! Congrats to our buddy!
Subway for lunch
Back to the lake to sit in the cars and stay warm until we had to get out to get ready.
Numbers pinned, got in a good warm up, and in line to start the race.
Whistle blows and we’re off. During the neutral rollout I was sitting around 10th wheel. I forgot how amazing it was to ride in a pelton, moving 20+ mph and barely putting out any effort. And then I remembered why I didn’t like riding in pelotons. The yo-yoing in the race was crazy. Over the entire first lap it was a constant brake, accelerate, brake, accelerate. Another issue I ran into was that I did not keep my improving my position at the begining of the race so I slowly started moving backwards. Towards the second half of the first lap I kept moving forward slowly and towards the start/finish line I was making a big push forward with the line on the left. Then the crash happened. I heard bodies and bikes hitting the ground and saw the peloton splitting in front of me. “Really? Oh s***”. I saw a Navy rider on the ground right in front of me (I had already moved into the left lane at this point), so I had to swerve all the way to the other side of the road to avoid getting taken out.
Ok, peloton is about 50 yards ahead and hammering. Great. I ended up pacelining with 6 people to try to catch back up. For most of the first lap we ended up neither improving nor dropping from the peloton (about 150-200 meters behind). When we hit the second to last hill, I just got on the back of the line after my pull when the two riders in front of me start dropping back. Move around, try to catch the other three, but instead of catching them I ended up in “no mans land”. 3 riders in front, me, and 2 riders behind. I tried for a few hundred meters to catch up, however the group in front seemed more interested in dropping me than letting me catch up. End result, I decided to drop back to the two riders. Here I met Joseph from Wake Forest and Alan from NCSU. We worked together to try to catch the riders ahead of us for the next lap+ (about 14 miles), but Alan began suffering hardcore (“A” mountain biker, but this was his first road race). Joseph and I decided we would make sure we didnt drop him. Getting dropped from a dropped group and having to ride by yourself sucks.
On the third lap we agreed to just ride easy since we had a race tomorrow. We still pacelined a little to make sure we didnt get caught by the riders behind us, but took it easy. Everything was good until about 5 miles left. Up ahead I saw a giant piece of cardboard blow over and then back. This sketched me out a little, but I didnt think too much of it, however I still made sure I went to the left side of the lane when I was passing it. Once I pass it, I look back to see where the other two are. I see Alan is about 15 meters behind me. Then all I see is a giant piece of cardboard. Oh c***. I see both riders go down so I stop my bike and roll over to see how they are. Then I see Alan’s brake lever hanging off his bike. You have to feel bad for this guy at this point. He was suffering hard and only kept going for the third lap since I encouraged him by yelling “Tell your legs to shut the f*** up” as we passed the start/finish line on the last lap. Needless to say, he was done riding. Joseph was a bit easier,his chain just fell off and go stuck in his front derailleur. I just about had it fixed when we saw some riders coming from down the road. He said “just go dude” and I said “no, I’m fixing this”. Boom, it was fixed. We both got on our bikes and hammered away.
The ride to the finish line was fast paced and pretty solid. About 3000 km from the line I said to Joseph “no sprinting for the line, ok?” and he replied “dude, you stopped for me, you go first”. Maybe one place doesnt matter in points when you’re dropped, but its still nice to finish as high as possible. Since he allowed me to cross the line first, I pulled us the rest of the way to the line.
“Bro”, “Hammer”, “Swag”, “Dawg”, and many awkward conversations and jokes.
What do these all have in common? They mean that bike season is here and I am with the GWU Cycling Team.
For the first race weekend we were heading down to North Carolina (NCSU hosting) for two road races. Yeah, TWO road races. What happened to my crits? Or at least a time trial? Nope, this was pretty much an anti-jet weekend. Both courses were relatively flat which does work to my advantage, however I like short and fast races, not road races (hence I really am trying to get into track racing).
So 11:30 AM on Saturday, Chandler (our rookie who owned this weekend in D’s!) rolled out of Foggy Bottom in our shiny Zipcar. Thanks to an awesome social media campaign, our team won $5,500 in driving credit in the “Students with Drive” contest run by Ford and Zipcar. For this weekend, our vehicle of choice was a choice Mini Cooper Clubman. Red with racing stripes. Yeah, racing stripes, you know we were ready to go. We somehow fit both of our bikes (wheels off) and all of our gear in the back.
Fast forward 4 1/2 hours and we are in North Carolina at the Holiday in at Apex, NC. Nick and Andrew only left DC around 2:00 in Nick’s car so we were not expecting them for a few more hours. What to do now? RIDE BIKES! We did a quick easy spin around Apex (including “historic Apex” which frankly did not look very historic except for the sign that said “Welcome to Historic Apex”…). Fortunately we did locate some places to get food later in the night. We got back to the hotel and did homework and other collegiate things until Nick and Andrew arrived. Food of the night was pizza at Anna’s Pizzeria in “Historic Apex”. Between the 4 of us we split a veggie pizza and a chicken parm pizza. 3 pieces left at the end of the night. GW Cycling domination complete. Back to the hotel to crash for the night and wake up bright and early for the first road race of the season.
Its totally normal for me to get very excited for a season of any sport I do, but last night I had a scary moment (fortunately it was a dream).
At some race I pull my bike out of the car, only to find the rear tire is low (around 40 psi) and I don’t realize until now that I forgot to bring my pump from DC! Oh well, I’ll ride on it anyway. Then all of a sudden we’re descending at high speed on the V-Tech course from last year (40+ mph) when my front brake just explodes. Then I see that incredibly sharp turn, slam on my one good brake and just keep going down the road, unable to make the turn.
I don’t know I felt like sharing this story, but I guess the motto of the story is to make sure you have everything you need once you leave your dorm room for the races.
Leaving tomorrow at 11 AM for NCSU race weekend. Two road courses (no bueno, I want my crits!), but both courses don’t have any major climbs (bueno, gravity is not my friend going uphill).