mom & dad, you are banned from reading this post.

Well, ten bucks says that won't actually work -- Mom, I know you're still reading this, but the disclaimer makes it no longer my fault if you find out things you didn't want to know.


It was cold. Cold is relative, but when it's July 26 and it's 67 degrees and windy, that's cold.

This time just seven of us, and none of the slow people showed up. Plus they put corners in the course this time - it's a driver's ed course, so where we go is determined by where the race organizers put the orange cones. Corners are, um, not my specialty. Euphemistically speaking.

So the first time we hit the corner section, the field was split into two groups of three: three that can corner well, and three that can't. I was in the latter. A familiar place, anyway, the chase group. It was getting to be a while since I'd been in a legitimate chase group ("group" being the key word) and, you know, it's an okay place to be. The other two ladies in my group, Liz and Paula, each took a one-lap pull, and when we came around the last turn I figured it was my turn to do the work and accelerated to get in the front. As I was doing so, I recalled last week, when I thought about attacking for something to do and then got chided by various people for ultimately not doing it. What the hell then, I thought - third is already out of reach, so might as well. I got a gap between myself and the other two and held it until the corner section came back, at which point I was slowing down and waiting for them anyway. When they came by I jumped back on and figured I'd sit in until the end, then try and sprint it out for the noble position of not-last.

We came out of the final corner with me in third position, with the most ground to make up in the sprint, and so I jumped and put everything I had into making up two full bike lengths in less than 50 yards. Liz and Paula were both a little to my left, Liz only a few feet from the right-hand edge of the road, but wide enough for me to squeeze through, so I dove for it. Liz threw her bike (link for the benefit of my parents, who really do have to stop reading now) as she crossed the line. I was going faster than she was at that point, so right as she was throwing I came up alongside her on the right.

She didn't see me. She assumed nobody would be coming through that space. And so, a la Paolo Bettini in Stage 4 of this year's Giro, she veered off her line. I hollered SHIT! HEY! right in her ear. Slow motion, she looked at me, surprise and ohFUCK registered on her face, but it was too late and next thing I know I'm in the gravel at the side of the road at least six feet away from my bike. Later reconstruction, though highly unscientific, has me hitting the ground with my right hip first, followed by my knee, shoulder, and head, then a sort of rolling skid across my back and onto my left side. Sometime in there my bike detached itself from my feet and apparently went spiraling through the air on its own date with destiny.

I sat up right away and I'd like to provide an account of what I was looking at or thinking about or SOMETHING, but I'm not actually sure I was looking at or thinking about ANYTHING. Attempting to reconstruct my thoughts from that moment, I get this:


Then Liz was standing over me, wanting to know if I was okay, and suddenly with both of us all right it was extremely funny. To me, anyway. An EMT appeared in my face and asked me how many fingers am I holding up, what's your name, what day is it (Tuesday), no, what DATE (dude, I'm one of those people that has to ask the cashier what day it is every time I write a check, ask me something else), all right then, who's the president -- at that I had to bite my tongue hard not to say Hitler, after all, my helmet is cracked like a hard-boiled egg that's been dropped on the floor, the brain damage check is probably legitimate and not a good time to be a wise-ass. He took my sunglasses off and checked my pupils, felt my collarbones to see if they were intact (they were), then made me stand up to prove I could.

Somebody told me to get on my bike and ride to keep from stiffening up. Sure, I said, where is it?

The rear wheel looked like a Salvador Dali painting. So did the handlebar. My shiny new bike. I almost cried.

Here are some highly intelligent things I said during the next 20 minutes:
1. Did anybody see that?
2. But how am I going to race on Sunday if I don't have a bike? Can I sell my registration to somebody else?
3. (to Liz) Hey, look, I don't have any skin there either! We're twins!
4. If you send your helmet to Bell what color do they send back? It better not be pink.
5. Are my shorts okay?
6. Who was last?

The answer to #6 is, of course, me. All that work for not-last and I didn't even make it.

After a while I decided that standing around in torn Lycra applying ice packs kind of sucks when it's 67 degrees and windy, and people were starting to accuse me of being in shock because I was shivering. People who were wearing jeans and sweatshirts. YOU stand here in almost no clothes and rub ice all over yourself and we'll see who's shivering, eh? So I went home. I took my shorts off in the hallway and about a pound of gravel fell out. I ran around trying to avoid my dog, who thought the blood running down my legs would be a tasty treat. I dug through the enormous mound of papers that passes for my desk, searching for the receipt from my helmet, and miraculously I found it. I soaked in the bathtub for about half an hour, hoping the rest of the gravel would work itself out. And that was my evening.

This morning I was 20 minutes late to work, not having taken into account the amount of time it would take to mummify myself in gauze and medical tape. (One benefit of living in a two-cyclist household is that we already had these things on hand, including four different sizes of gauze pads.) Then I was treated to a perfect sociological illustration of the difference between men and women:

WOMAN: Oh my gosh! What happened to you? Did you fall off your bike? Are you okay? Did you go to the hospital? Did you get stitches? Are you going to go to a doctor? What does it feel like? Are there more bandages under your clothes? Oh my GOSH!

MAN: (cursory glance at bandages) You must be a bike racer or sumpin'.

Okay, so there are five women in the "woman" sample, and only one man (that's a direct quote from my boss), but still. And "fall off" my bike? Give me some credit, people!

Liz and I shot emails back and forth all morning, and she's okay too. Aside from the road rash and bruises, both of us have sore necks for some reason. And my head has a lump on it. Actually, I'm not entirely convinced that I escaped brain-damage-free, since at lunch today I managed to dump my entire bowl of soup onto my pants, and now I smell like soup, which seems like it might be a characteristic of the mentally retarded. Normal people do not go around smelling like soup.


Blogger Sascha said...

God. oowowowowowowoow.

You did this on purpose. We're never going to get to race together.

7/27/2005 4:17 PM  
Blogger Nathan said...

Seizing last place with gusto, yes!

7/27/2005 4:44 PM  
Blogger annie said...

dude, i didn't say i wasn't racing sunday. what kind of wussie do you think i am?

7/27/2005 5:13 PM  
Blogger filtersweep said...

I witnessed your crash- well, me and everyone else waiting to hop on the course for our warmup lap. It was rather surreal and almost slow motion from our perspective, since we could see everything so clearly. Once your wheel was taken out, we knew there was no hope, and our next question was whether one or both of you would go down.

I really felt bad for you- the crash was truly avoidable- and it literally occurred after the finish line. Not to cast blame, but Liz didn't hold her line and probably should not have been sprinting at that point- but I'm sure she learned that the hard way. If I recall, you ended up in the gravel, which actually feels worse than pavement.

It is a real bummer about your wheel. I can't figure out how it was so thoroughly destroyed, when the previous week (or was it two weeks ago?) the two Dave's went down hard on the last turn, with nothing but ripped bar tape (and cracked helmets and road rash).

I hope you heal quickly...

One of the cool things about blogging is getting other people's perspectives of the same events I've participated in, or witnessed.

7/29/2005 10:41 AM  
Blogger annie said...

You're actually the first person I've talked to who DID see it clearly. What did you see? How in the world did my bike get so far away from me? The damage to the bike supports the theory that it flipped through the air, since the handlebar twisted far enough around for the brake to take paint off the down tube and both of the little caps on the tops of the brake levers came off, but nobody I talked to there could see much.

The Daves crashed two weeks ago according to Dave B, whose wheel I'm borrowing until I can get mine rebuilt. The rim is actually cracked, believe it or not. I'm not sure how that happened, but it was too warped to turn and the bike had to be carried to my car. the bike is fine otherwise. The derailleur hanger was bent, both brakes were bent, my brake hoods were twisted, my headset was way out of alignment, and my chainrings actually had to be removed and hammered flat because somehow THEY got bent too, but Sascha and I went for a 35-mile shakedown spin last night and everything is more or less OK. Except the shiny new paint. :-(

I'm fine, btw. Apart from the "concussion" that my dad (who lives several states away) accused me of having, it's just road rash, and all the stiffness is in my upper body, mostly the right shoulder. You will all see me make an appearance in my highly fashionable red commuter helmet on Sunday, though! I haven't sent the cracked one back to Bell yet.

Oh, and Liz and I have talked lots since then. She realizes she should have held her line, and I am claiming partial blame because I probably shouldn't have tried to dive through a barely-wide-enough gap in a cat 4 race anyway. Liz and I have done a number of casual rides together but haven't been in enough of the same races that I had any business assuming she'd stick. We both just started racing last year, so, y'know, live and learn.

7/29/2005 12:00 PM  
Blogger filtersweep said...

I'm surprised Dave B didn't see it as well, since he was up front with us as well, waiting to hit the course.

What I saw was this- Liz took a sprint for the line with someone on her left. She threw the bike, as you mentioned, and immediately veered to the right, cutting you off as you rode on the inside. What was unique about your crash was that you were about a half bike length along side her, so she didn't just take out your front wheel and stay upright herself. Rather, she hit your wheel more with her bike, causing you to wobble into her, resulting in her crash. There were are few shakey milliseconds where I really hoped you'd recover, but it was not to be. Her bike turned to jelly as well as she went down.

You appeared to be connected to your bike as you went down on your right side into the gravel, hitting the ground with the right side of your head, if I recall correctly. You seemed a bit slow getting up, from I presumed was the shock and surprise from the whole ordeal. I watched you rather closely, since I really felt you were victimized by the bad line- yet I knew it was a touchy situation since it was caused by your teammate. I did not see your bike flip.

The thing is, even a pro will go down in a heartbeat if he touches his front wheel. There is simply nothing you can do. She was way to far off course for you to just lean into her to stay upright, like we usually have to do in an early Opus race to cope with the squirrley riders.

7/29/2005 2:41 PM  
Blogger annie said...

Dave saw it, but he didn't have the same level of detail for me that you do. Must not have been watching as closely.

When I hit the ground, it took me a while to realize that I'd stopped moving and I wasn't dead and it was okay for me to get up, and then I sat there on the ground for a really long time because I didn't have much reason to go anywhere else. I wasn't thinking of the spectators that might have been wondering. When Tom H went down at the track a few weeks ago, I was terrified that he was mortally injured until he got up, so in retrospect I suppose it would have been more polite for me to get up sooner so anybody still watching would have known I was okay, but it didn't occur to me. Right there on the ground seemed like a fine place to me! I probably would have sat there for another half hour if the EMT hadn't made me get up.

I assumed I must have rolled since I also have road rash all over my back and left side, but the whole thing just sort of felt like "THUD" to me. It's interesting to get the spectators' perspectives. Most of the people I talked to couldn't see much because of the officials' area being in their way. Thanks for your account. I'm not holding anything against Liz, but as a new racer it makes me feel better to know it wasn't my fault. I wasn't sure for a while.

Do I know you in real life? There are so many GP guys, and I can't tell from your tiny picture who you are!

7/29/2005 3:09 PM  
Blogger filtersweep said...

I don't think we've properly met. I ride a black Look (rather than a Bianchi ;) ). I haven't missed a crit this year, but I haven't ridden a single shop ride. Frankly, when I rode a few shop rides last year, I was amazed at how many of those guys I had never seen before.

There are so many GP people- I saw a bunch Wednesday at RAGBRAI... they are everywhere. I only know maybe a dozen of them- mostly masters.

7/29/2005 3:35 PM  

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