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Tour of Terra Cotta Crash

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[UPDATES at the bottom of the article.]

I just came inside from snoozing in my back yard. That in itself felt a bit strange. It's Wednesday. It just turned 9PM. I am at home, and I just spent the last hour asleep in my backyard. 

Normally, on a Wednesday at this time, I would be completing the Real Deal Team ride or just finishing up at the Velodrome in London, ON. Tonight, the team was at Horseshoe, just north of Barrie pre-riding the race course for one of the last OCUP races this season, but I was snoozing. In a sense, I miss the action, but in another, I am happy for a bit of a break....maybe that was a bad choice of words.

It has been two days after having found out I have a fractured collar bone on my ride side.  On Monday, I raced the intermediate race at the Tour of Terra Cotta. Last year, I did the Open or Elite race and finished a lap back in 99th place. I did not want to do that again. If I just wanted to ride the thing, I could do that anywhere and save the $55. I wanted a chance at the podium and in the open race, with the likes of Ed Veal and Jeff Schiller - top elite athletes - I have no chance at a win. So, I went down a race to the Intermediate to compete over 6 laps of the course for 56km.

(UPDATE: To the a$$hole that commented on my thinking I deserve to win - no, I just want a chance at it - just like everyone else - if there isn't a chance at a win, why bother racing? I can't win against my coach. I can see no point in riding a race to finish 99th place a lap behind. I can just as easily do the donut ride. And, no, I don't want sympathy. Racing is dangerous. Period. We all know that going in. I just wish the licensing was tighter to require training prior to racing. Yes, this is arrogant thinking. But, I don't care.)

At the start line, the pack was loaded with good racers. I knew it would be a tough race. My plan was to stay near the front of the pack to stay out of trouble, and I did that on every lap. However, I kept to the middle of the road, so I would routinely get swarmed, and be pushed backwards - which meant I have to fight for a better position for most of the race (and I just learned today, had I just stayed off to the left or right, that would have been less of an issue). The race was somewhat sketchy. Guy banging bars, crossing wheels, not holding lines - but thats typically at this level (not that I'm some pro). In OCUP races, that is par for the course in the M3 category. Newbies bring stupidity. So, I've just gotten used to the stupidity.  Staying near the front of the race usually means it's safer. However, on the final lap approaching the sprint, all hell broke lose. (Just to be clear, I'm no pro or I would be racing up front in the elite race with Ed Veal, etc.., but I spent 2 years learning to race before I jumped into it so I get annoyed when people that just buy a bike think they can race it)

Coming into the finishing stretch, everyone was bar to bar across the entire road, getting ready for the sprint. I was ready to go, but some 3-4 guys deep from the front. I figured the best I could get is in the top 20. I was ready to just roll through the finish line if I had to. But, that wasn't to be. If this had been the elite race, the sprint would already have been happening. But, at the front in front of guys in front of me a couple guys connected and went down. All I saw was bikes on the ground. I saw wheels. I saw a line through the carnage and was prepared to go around the downed bikes when all of a sudden a rider, on the ground, appeared right in front of me. My front wheel hit his back square on and over the bars I went. I landed hard on my right shoulder.

I was a bit dazed. The typically reaction in this situation is to get out of the way ASAP, and I could hear a crunch from my shoulder as I stood up. The pain had not quite registered. I was able to stand up, but quickly had to lay down again before I passed out. I could feel my blood pressure tanking. Guys were down all around me as St. Johns Ambulance appeared on the scene. It looked like some 20 guys hit the pavement and everything around. I looked at my bike to see that it was fine. Cheap Chinese carbon survived where expensive bike frames do not. However, I was not so lucky.

I intended to just shug it off and get a drive to the hospital. I wanted to go to Emerg in Toronto because I did not want to risk being stuck way out in Brampton. I spent two weeks in Creditview Hospital a few years ago when I broken my leg in another bike race, and that was hard on the family (and me) being some 50km away from home. However, my head was still spinning and I almost passed out once, so I felt I could not make it. I didn't want my ride to have to deal with me unconscience in the car. So, I elected to be taken to the hospital in an ambulance. Apparently, some four other guys had the same fate. I was lucky. My friend Robyn had done the same race (but wasn't in the crash) and I brought my friend, Roger, with me to take photos. So, my bike and my stuff was covered, and I had a ride home when I needed it.

I tossed Robyn, who was back from the start line to see if I was fine, my keys and asked her to find Roger. By the time they both came back, was being loaded onto a stretcher and being placed in the ambulance. They got the info of where I was to being taken.

I was taken to Georgetown hospital. I was lucky because the bus I was in came with Paramedics. They called in permission for an IV and pain killers....which was helpful. The addreniline had worn off, and I starting to feel the pain so I was happy to be drugged up. A short time later, I was in Emerg.

XRays were taken and some hours later I saw the doctor. Fractured collar bone. Both Robyn and Roger made it to the hospital. I was bandaged up, and sent on my way with the XRays and ordered to get a referal to a Fracture Clinic in my area. Roger drove my car home. I had actually expected to be kept behind and need surgery, but that was not the case today. I was given a sling and a prescription for pain killers.

I've been asked if I am rather bummed out about the whole thing. Yes and no. I would rather not have to deal with the pain of a screwed up shoulder and road rash, but I've been given a forced break from racing. I like riding my bike, but racing on the road this season has been less than successful. I've been marred by crashes and mechanicals. About the only thing I will miss immediately is riding to work and back because I hate the subway. I have found a way to sit in a chain and type without pain, so I am already back at work.

In a few weeks I will be out riding again. In 4-6 weeks from now I will be back at racing. I will have spent weeks riding the trainer - something I hate doing. I will be all ready in time for track season. I will miss not doing the crits in Windsor and Detroit at the beginning of September, but track is more fun anyways.

[UPDATE: October 2012]
As it turns out, I actually enjoyed the time off the bike - well, for about 3 weeks. I got to do things I normally would never do and got lost of rest. I missed riding to work and back the most. I didn't miss racing - other then the crits in Windsor. I got back on my bike to ride to work and back in week 4. I was riding club rides in week 6 including the Donut Ride. In week 7, I raced the Centurion and place OK. I'm back racing the track and loving it. I think I will concentrate on the track next summer and race in the US....and be more selective which rode races I do next year and get more experience being a commisionaire. On the track. you can't race unless you have the pre-requist experience, unlike road racing.

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