Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tour of the Gila - Day One and ONLY

Guess I am going back to Santa Barbara, CA tomorrow..........

Riding in a pack is brutal. Broken thumb. 15 miles into the 74 mile race a girl ate serious pavement in front of me leaving me with one line.....the one right over her AND her bike. At least I wasn't the poor gal that was air flighted out with a broken pelvis. I saw her lying there in misery and could hear the moaning. Not fun to see. Lots of carnage today. Almost 3.5 hours later I finished 23rd outta about 70 starters.

If I don't look happy.

It's probably cuz I am not.

Guess I am starting a new chapter of my race career.

Ok, I promised on lots more later so here it goes..........

Got up nice and early on race day, got in the car headed for the start line. Oops, forgot every last water bottle of mine so we had to turn around and get them all. Did you really think I was going to be that awake at the crack of dawn? Yeah right. Got to the venue and everything kind of seemed chaotic. Had to:

Go bathroom super bad but the line for the 3 port-a-jons was LONG for the 500+ racers; this was problem.
Swap bottles and figure out who is doing what as far as what team mates were picking up the feeds.
Go to the bathroom again.
Figure out what feeds our feeders were going to.
Get tires pumped and ready; chain lubed.
Go to the bathroom.
Get extra wheels to the wheel car.
Figure out who could take all our clothing at the line because the feeders had to leave before the race start.
Go to the bathroom
Sign in!
Warm up for a hand full of minutes- yeah....that didn't happen.

The race began and so did the up to 15 miles an hour wind. We stayed as a group mostly and I fought continuously to be in the front because if someone goes, that is a nice place to be to follow. We went at a solid pace for a while once we hit the first climbs just out of town. At some point a potty break was even discussed as a group and agreed upon. That would make for an interesting picture with 70 women in the middle of no where doing their thing on the side of the road. Hmmm?

It always amazes me how much the pack "swirls" within itself and if you aren't up for the fight you find yourself sitting at the back unexpectedly and suddenly asking yourself how that just happened. So I constantly was near the front because it is generally a pretty safe place to be to keep yourself upright. Not the case today unfortunately. Girls kept going over the white line on the right into the gutter which was ok when the transition from the road to the gutter was gradual but at times it would radically change creating a mini 3 inch high wall that you would have to get up and over to get back in the pack. And a girl in front of me didn't see or notice or whatever that 3 inch wall that appeared from no where and I found myself watching her swerve one way, then the other, back the other way before her front tire turned 90 degrees and launched her onto the pavement RIGHT in front of me. I had time enough to look ahead, see that this was about to happen, look right (boxed in-oh no!), look left (boxed in there too!) and then ride right over her leg and bike. I just remember looking at that tan leg and thinking "I am sorry!!!!"

I don't remember what happen next except that I did land in the road facing backwards on my right side and when I opened my eyes all I saw were tires and more girls headed for ME now!!! I slightly remember curling up and then only recall myself actually running over to my bike that was about 10 feet away in a ditch facing forward on its side. I didn't think twice about grabbing it and remounting it like I was in a cyclocross race. Looking back on it I should have done a quick check of the skewers, saddle, drive train and all because if any of that was broken I could have gone down again on my OWN accord. But everything was functioning normally and perfectly if you can believe it. And I did do a visual skewer check almost immediately after being prompted by my teammate Jenn who was asking how I was and how the bike was. She helped me get back up to the pack to get back in the race. Thank god for teamies!

The pain from my thumb was almost immediate but I couldn't see through my glove nor did I have time to check it. It was just go go go!!! Get back in it! My right elbow, and side were hurting pretty bad too but I couldn't see what was going on there either because it was all covered. Those mysteries would have to remain until after the race when I got to (what I like to call) "open my presents" by revealing what nasty thing lie underneath my clothing. It makes it very exciting (kidding) as you never know what you are going to get (bruise, scratch, hemotoma, deep wound). Lovely times I tell you.

The other lovely time was when I went to grab my water bottles that had been (apparently!!) launched into outer space in the crash. Thank god for team mates yet again because we swapped water bottles left and right slurping off of each others. If someone had extra to give, they'd send it my way across the line of women racing. Crazy. Welcome to road racing! In a mtb race if your bottle launches you are so hosed but that wasn't the case today!

Throughout the next 60 miles my thumb got worse (more and more painful) and on the descents and cattle guards I thought I was going to scream bloody murder. Excruciating pain. Excruciating!! But then we would settle back into a rhythm on the hills and people would attack and I would forget any pain that was happening which is probably what got me through.

More girls went down for whatever reason here and there throughout the rest of the race and on one of the steep 19% climbs some gal actually fell over to the side. Like.....tipped! Weird. It was steep in places for sure on that last 7 miles. Hearing "oh no, wait, ahhhhh!!!!" then crack and the sound of metal wrapping itself around more metal is a nasty nasty sound and it just repeated itself over and over again it seemed like as more girls would fall victim to the pavement.

I am happy I hung in there to finish the race and would do it just the same again vs. DNFing. It wasn't that bad really. Once at the top, I got some Tylenol and headed back down to where all the team cars were (about 20 minutes down hill by bike) so we could pack up and drive 74 miles back to Silver City (stage 1 is a point to point vs an out and back or loop). Here we are at the team car area.

Jose "the engine" hanging after the race with two of our three feeders for the day.

Jenn, Nina and Sonya

Ice Ice baby!!

Shannon and feeder numero three (Chris!!)

Nina and those dang ham sandwiches!

And once back to the race start line after sitting in the car for what seemed like hours poor Jen discovered missing keys to her rig.

She could have fit in the window for sure. You see the size of that climber?

Just where you want to be following a race.

After getting released from the hospital hours and hours and hours later, Nina and Sonya made us dinner at their host housing.....thank god....that apple wasn't doing the trick after riding 4.5 hours today.

Who got burned worse? Nice.
And as for those presents that were beneath my jersey and shorts. They weren't bad although people in stores are looking at me weird it seems.....probably because they are bad but we cyclists are used to that! They were mere flesh wounds as all I found was a huge hematoma on my right elbow, bruised with surface scratches. And other scratches that look like a cats doing on my side and probably a chainring scratch or two on my inner leg. I was a lucky ducky.


Anonymous said...

Damn girl, call me when you're home! My schedule is wide open.

BrightEyes said...

I think it is amazing you finished the race! I hope you have a super quick recovery.


Thx. I have to make it as quick as possible for sure cuz this is annoying using one hand for everything!

Brian and Jenny said...

Kathy! I am BUMMED for you right now. BUT I know you well enough too. Its a long season and you have great fitness and form. You'll get to use it again before you know it.


Thx Jenny! This stuff just comes with the territory of what we do doesn't it? Now the hope is to KEEP that fitness I have now!! Lots of hard work ahead....


Will do T!!! Time will tell when I actually get home....seeing a Hand Surgeon in Phoenix today. He will give me my fate.

primetime formerly known as slyfox said...

nice tan :(

flahute said...

Heal well, heal quickly, and kick ass later this season!

flahute said...

By the way ... those sunburn marks? That's why I wear bibshots ... never any exposure!



if you were a women you would know that 5 hours at a time in bibs shorts doesn't work so well for the ladies.