The sky was a swirl of fluffy clouds and blue when I opened my eyes. People were talking to me, their silhouettes blocking the light and I was laying in the dirt and I felt awful. I sat up, and immediately regretted it, as the feeling of nausea swept above the pain like storm surge flooding a levee. I was in a farm field, but other than that, the only thing I was sure about was that I wasn’t in Florida….well, pretty sure I wasn’t in Florida. Clattering past my bed of dust and gravel were lycra-clad cyclists and in the distance too. I thought those are bike people…I’m bike people…I think I’m here for the same reason that they are…what was that reason? The silhouettes kept a steady interrogation, and I realized that they were asking me if I was all right. After a while I was beginning to think that they might know something that I didn’t, but I told them I was ok. Still they kept asking…asking if I was sure. And I thought well, you got me there.
The clouded sky still seemed obscenely bright…probably because my prized Rudy Project Tayo glasses were broken…and my LAS helmet nearly split in two. Okay, I’ve seen this sort of thing before. This is a bike race; I do these sorts of things. My clothes are ripped, I’m covered in dirt, I’m bleeding, my head’s in a state…I’m pretty sure I crashed, and I think I’m not racing anymore today.
There was a repeated suggestion of a ride to the hospital, and I could only think,”No thank you, I’m poor!” I understood the scenario: I better not say anything freaky, or I’m gonna end up in an ambulance whether I want to or not. Any moment now they are gonna start asking questions, and I better have some answers…..quick!…what day is it?…shit!…I have no idea…I’m not working today…is it Thursday?
Concerned faces were asking me how I got here, and I had to stretch a little to come up with an answer. A snatch of memory leapt to the surface…. a car ride involving frantic GPS usage to get to the race…iPhones and Volvos and bikes on the roof…
“I came with Byron…”
“I came with Byron and his wife Pam…”
Apparently that answer was enough to allay their concerns. Later, I would contemplate the concept that a man’s entire identity can be summed up by his choice of spouse, and whether that was a good or bad thing, and for whom….but at the time I was thinking, whew…they bought it. Regardless, I would have had problems articulating other details like where the car was parked, phone numbers, blood type, etc.
As a woman walked me back to the first-aid tent, I began piecing the jigsaw puzzle together. This was Kruger’s Kermesse at Sauvie Island, just a little outside Portland. More or less, Kruger’s could be described as a cyclocross race without any need to dismount. I still believe I would have placed well, had I not crashed. I was picking riders off one by one, though I would have needed to be quite lucky to finish higher than 10th. Somehow I crashed pretty hard on the slight downhill, but I’m not sure how. Several people said I hit a divot in the gravel road, but I don’t think that would have been enough to put me down. After all, the course was full of patches, and I was feeling pretty comfortable with the roughness. Though my bike was mostly unscathed from the crash, my handlebars had rotated down quite a bit; still I cannot verify whether the rotation was cause or collateral to the crash.
The first-aid tent had perhaps a little too much empathy when they were cleaning the wounds…even in my hazed-out headspace, I knew that the hamburger on my legs needed to be scrubbed hard…it’s just I couldn’t really articulate it at the time.
Pam finished her race, and then we got some food while we waited for Byron to finish the single-speed race. It’s a pity that I crashed out, as I really was enjoying the race up until the point I don’t remember anything. There’s this crazy section where the racers hit a dirt road, kicking up a thick cloud of dust and you can barely see the riders’ helmets floating up ahead…bikes and road totally obscured. I had been remembering the fast lines on the course, conserving energy when possible and moving up when I could. But instead of finishing, people were asking me if I was “the one in the big crash”.”
The car ride back to Seattle was 3hrs of discomfort….which I luckily don’t remember too well. With the imploring of many voices to go to the hospital still ringing in my ears, I called an ex-girlfriend to inform her that she was babysitting me that night in case something bad happened. She asked how bad off I was; I said that I was a little hazy but I still remembered that she owed me 20 bucks.
Immediately after putting my bike into my apartment, I walked to the grocery store around the corner…still clad in lycra, dirt, and blood…and bought some more sterile pads and rice wine. I started the shower, peeled clothing out of the wounds, and downed half the bottle. Then I spent 20min scrubbing every little bit of dirt out of the 7hr old wounds. It had been a long time since I had had that much roadrash, but I remembered how to bandage the damage. I got a text message from another girl asking how bad the injuries were. Rather than try to describe it, I simply sent her a phone photo of me in nothing but boxer shorts in a full-length mirror…gauze and tape all up my leg and my face.
She responded,”That’s a sexy picture!”
And I said,”Uh yeah….I feel real sexy right now.”
Later I fell asleep while my ex-girlfriend read Japanese manga translated into Mandarin online…periodically checking to make sure I was alive.
So as you can surmise, the start of my CX season was a little dodgy….