I crashed pretty hard during the race. Twice. But I still came out better than Kenny, who crashed helmet-less on the road. Yikes.
A few things standout this morning about the 2007 E50. And they all have to do with pain. First of all is the major crash. About 90 minutes into the race I hit the dirt harder than I think I ever have. I was motoring along quite nicely, comfortably in the top 10, and suddenly I was face down in the dirt, glasses shattered, bleeding from my face and elbow. Three riders went by, and in a panic I jumped on the bike and took off after them blood dripping down my cheek and arm, soaking my glove. After a few minutes I realized that my body was not ready to be pushing like I was, and so I slowed the pace, and made sure that I was not more seriously hurt.
The rest of the day was spent trying to get back into the pre-crash groove. I pushed myself hard, and against the cry of my aching head, back and shoulders. That pain started to combine with the normal race day pain, the burn that comes into the legs after pushing yourself for hours. The course was relentless, as I knew it would be. The Mid-Mountain trail, which made up about 40 of the 50 miles was merciless. On any given day it is a fun traversing roller coaster, Saturday, it was a villain, an enemy with destructive intentions, sucking the life out of the racers who fought against its will.
The final push of the day involved a 6 mile, 2000 foot climb. I was struggling mightily, and I dropped a few spots. I was angry with myself for letting the race come down to this sort of suffer-fest. I had plans of finishing fast and springy. And still though, I was pushing through a lot of pain on that final stage. Riders who passed me earned it. They had more in the tank.
The descent following the long final climb is nothing near relaxing. After more Mid-mountain trail we were left with the windy, technical John’s trail. Climbing John’s in the morning was spectacular. Descending it 5 hours later was salting the wound. Literally.
About 2 miles from the finish line I caught a tree with my bar-end and went down hard. Again. I got up, more angry than hurt, and sped off down the trail, the wind knocked out of me and my rib throbbing. I finished the race with a sort of maniacal joy. I was just happy to be off the bike.
Of course once the race was done, then the aches and pains of the day started to settle in in earnest. I am pretty banged up. Lots of bruises and scrapes, all overshadowed by the deep purple shiner surrounding my right eye.
I crossed the line 18th. I am disappointed in what could have been. I am sure the early crash had something to do with losing time in the race, but I can’t blame it entirely. The field rode strong and earned the spots they claimed. Brad Pilling rode more or less uncontested, to a 15 minute victory. Well done indeed.
I feel some sense of accomplishment after riding through blood and pain, and there was definite progress made on other fronts…
but damn…Saturday hurt…