Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Got Beat Up.

Two nights in a row.

Monday night Heather and I went over to Frick Park. She to read, I to ride. I'm pretty sure she didn't have any trouble with her reading, but I had a pretty nice wreck on the Bowling Green (if that's the right name for it) trail. Basically, it starts near the Bowling Green in Point Breeze and runs down to the bottom of the Homewood Trail.

The descent down to the Homewood Trail is the part that gets me every time. It's really steep (at least to me) and even though I know that I'd be a lot better off to just keep moving and lay off of the brakes, I can't convince my body to actually DO that.

What happens is that I'm on this really steep angle, braking way more than I should be, and of course my back end decides that it really wants to be going a lot faster than my front end. In order to accomplish this, back end goes up over me. Needless to say, physics and gravity and all sorts of other things of science don't look too fondly on that, and the bike and I end up on the ground in a heap.

Looking at the bruises, it appears that I landed on my left forearm, right thumb, chest, both knees, and somehow my right ankle. But not my head. We can all be thankful for that.

Looking at my bike, it seems to have landed pretty heavily on the rear derailleur. After I picked myself up, brushed off all of the dirt, and climbed back on the bike (oh, and no, I didn't try to go down the hill at that point. I just decided to go a different way), it was immediately apparent that the shifting was all kinds of wrong. The chain was jumping all over the place in the back, especially under load. I looked back at the chain, and the cage was definitely not running even to the rear cogs. Great stuff. At least it was still rideable, and I was able to make my way back to where Heather was camped out without too much trouble.

I took the bike to Pro Bikes at lunch today. They confirmed that, yes, I did, in fact, bend the derailleur. Or the hanger. They're not sure which. They'll check it out and let me know. They know me by name there. First and last. It's a little scary. I probably spend too much time (and money) there.

That was Monday night.

Last night (being Tuesday night) was another night at the Oval for the Cat C race. Heather came with me again so that she could watch. Before the race, there was a little class about treating yourself in the event of a wreck. Foreshadowing?

I didn't feel especially awesome before the race. I probably should have eaten more before we left. I had a Clif bar and some goo before the race, but that was about it since 3:00, I think. I joked to Heather that I would be finishing 35th of 35.

Everything started out fine. I got a little nervous when they said we'd be doing 35 laps this week, instead of the 32 that I was used to, but really, what's another mile and a half among friends.

I was doing pretty well for the first few laps. I noticed pretty early that I was far back in the field, so I shifted to the right and started moving up. I was probably somewhere in the top fifteen by the 10th lap or so.

I'm not sure what happened after that. I can point to a few things as probable causes, though: As I was going through the third and fourth turns on one of the ensuing laps, I drifted pretty far to the top of the track and totally lost the wheel in front of me. Right as I realized I was going to be in trouble if I didn't get my butt back on someone else's butt real soon, I heard a wreck to my left.

I don't know if that spooked me or what, but I didn't end up getting back on anyone's wheel, and I saw the whole field starting to move along without me. Amazingly, there was one other guy who was having some sort of similar (but probably entirely unrelated) problems. I pulled up behind him, and we trudge along for a number of laps (I don't know how many) before the group finally lapped us. During this time, it became pretty evident how windy it was coming up the last stretch toward the finish line.

Once the group came back around, get on someone's wheel and stay there. With that taken care of, the last eleven laps were pretty easy going. I still can't believe what a difference it makes to have someone in front of you doing the job of cutting through the wind.

The one really great thing about being 34th of 35 (the guy who wrecked was down for at least a lap or two before he was able to get back into the race) is that I missed the wreck right at the finish. I can't personally verify this, but from what I heard, it sounded like the winner decided to slow down as soon as he crossed the line and celebrate his victory. Of course, someone else ran into him, and I think someone else ran into that guy. Celebrating because you won a C race? Come on. Get a grip.

Regardless of my result, I'm glad I finished the race. For a while there, I thought about just pulling off and giving up. Those laps where it was just me and the other guy were rough, but at the very least it was good exercise.

A few things to take away:

  • Don't try to move too far ahead. When you follow the guys who are moving up on the right, chances are they're going to be faster than you. If you can't keep up when they break, you'd better have a good plan to get back in with the rest of the field.
  • Pay better attention on the turns. I still don't know how I drifted so far up the track on the fourth turn, but it killed me. I was out on my own, and there was no way to get back in. I was screwed.
  • Always pay attention at the end of the race. If someone is going to slow down so they can shoot some "V"s at their friends, you'd better be ready for it.

Better luck next Tuesday, maybe.

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