Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tour of California 2016 - Stage 3 (Crash)

Completed Stage 3:  105 miles, 8953ft of elevation and a Crash.

Crashing as a bike rider is more a matter of when rather than if and today was just one of those days, but more about that later.

At breakfast this morning everyone was tired after a hard day in the saddle yesterday.  The topic of the morning was the ride ahead starting with a couple of KOM's, then down onto the coast road and into Santa Barbra to finish with a 7.4 mile climb up Gibraltar road.

The morning was misty and the temperature was perfect as we got ready.  Kirk announced that a guest would join us on the ride for the day, Phil Sutherland, CEO and Co-Founder of team novo nordisk and an accomplished cyclist in his own right.  It was great chatting to him on the ride and learning about the team selection process.  All the riders on his team have diabetes and the talent is found all around the world staring at a young age.  He gets to help people and ride his bike what a cool job.

The first half of the ride took in a category 3 climb followed quickly by a category 2, before dropped down to the coast.  We made good time along the flat then headed up the penultimate climb, a category 3 with a kick. 

My legs felt heavy from the riding but over the climb I felt good and was enjoying a great day of riding and anticipating the last climb of the day.

We formed a single line pace line and started to eat away at the remaining distance.  The rider in front of me pulled up and it was my turn into the wind.  I put my head down and drove on passing the 5K to the spot sprint sign.  Everything was flowing as we approached a stop sign.  What happened next is a bit of a blur.  With my head into the wind someone shouted stop, I reflexively touched my brakes and the next thing I knew was sliding along the ground followed by a number of other riders. 

It was horrible and in the moment I just could not process it.  An ambulance was called for downed riders and the police took statements from those of us in the accident.  The main group headed out and left us to gather our wits.  All of the downed riders were unable to ride due to injury or mechanical issues.

  The mechanic brought me my bike and incredibly it only had superficial damage.  I decided there and then I needed to finish the stage.  The team patched me up as best they could and I headed out with a bandaged arm and torn up shorts.

One of the coaches dropped back to ride with me.  I knew we had lost a massive amount of time and the pros would be breathing down our necks in no time at all.  Dave then asked me if I wanted him to try to tow me back to the group.  We were about 35k-40k out so I said yes.  Dave then got on the front and I had a super domestique  working for me.  He was an absolute power house and for 30 minutes must have been putting out 400w+

We got to the base of the last climb and after a quick check in I headed for the finish line.  During the climb I played back the crash time and time again in the first couple of miles.  I know accidents happen but I feel terrible as I was the lead rider and it was my responsibility to keep the pace line safe.  If only someone had not shouted stop and if only I had not reflexively touched my brakes.  Then the effort of the climb kicked in and I buried myself in my own pain cave.

I finished the ride about 15-20mins ahead of the pros and then proceeded to physically crash from both the accident and the effort.  We had an awesome location behind the finish line and saw all the riders roll through, I just was not physically able to take it all in.

It was now time to patch up my wounds so we headed down the mountain to Santa Barbra ER.  Once there one of our group walked out which as great to see.  Unfortunately I was having a pro experience I could have done without as riders from the race were being patched up from today's crashes.  With a 2 hour wait time we decided to check out as we still had a 2 hour transfer to our hotel. 

Still feeling horrible for what happened I felt I had to apologized to the injured riders, they were gracious in the way cyclists are when these things happen.  It could have been anyone but today it was me.

Once at our destination I checked in at the ER in San Luis Obispo, thankfully there was no one waiting but visits to ER always take time.  After inspection and X-rays the good news is the wounds are all superficial.  An injection of pain mess in my butt and I was on my way.

In the car back to the hotel I learnt that our start time has been brought forward tomorrow as the pro peloton will be leaving early due to the winds at Big Sur meaning we have to leave at 5:45am.


I have just finished preparing my bags for tomorrow whilst throwing food down before catching up with my baby and then bedding down for a few hours sleep

Here are a few pictures of the day
























A good reason to wear gloves - they saved my hand today.


Remember to Keep it Rubber Side Down unlike me today and MaxLifeOut

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