So I was supposed to be in the Ardennes tonight. I was supposed to have just completed stage 1 of Tour de Liege. But sometimes things don’t always go as planned. After my crash on Friday I realize that I would have to re-access my goals and expectations for the race as I wasn’t going into to it in 100% condition. Sunday morning however my body had other plans in mind.
Okay, time for a little more detail then you might want but…. It’s not unusual for me to cough up some slime once in a while, and a habit I have gotten into is spitting it out so that I can check the color. Now I know this sounds weird and gross but you can tell a lot by the color. You can see if you are getting ill or in this case if you are coughing blood. At first I thought for sure it must have been from my nose during the night but it continued for the rest of the day. So phone calls were made, doctors consulted and eventually it was decided that I would not be taking the start today. Instead I got to go see our team doctor to get checked out.
Luckily it seems I have gotten off pretty easy. It appears to be but a small injury that is bleeding slightly. This does mean though that I have to take a couple of days off the bike, and the rest of the week pretty easy with mostly base endurance riding. Physically right now my body is pretty battered, but also it has been quite tough mentally.
Mentally this last while has been tough. The last 10 days have really been up and down with me starting to question how much I want to make it to the pro ranks. There is a certain amount of fear that I have developed for racing. The thought of crashing is actually something that has really rattled my cage. The last couple of days the battle inside of me of whether or not stopping would be the right answer has been raging almost constantly. Both continuing and stopping have so many pro’s and con’s that it isn’t something that can be just decided, it is something that requires some serious soul-searching and thought.
I was watching some tour highlights this morning after I got up while the guys were leaving for the Tour de Liege and it struck me, there is still so much I want to do and accomplish in this sport. Yes, there is a certain amount of fear involved but as one of my best friends reminded me, bravery isn’t the absence of fear but moving on in spite of it. I wont let fear keep me from chasing my dreams and accomplishing them.
Randy Pausch said in his last lecture that, “Brick walls are there for a reason…The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” I refuse to be one of those other people. I refuse to quit when it gets tough.
Crashing is part of cycling. Its part of the sport and being a cyclist. Yesterday I hit the pavement again for the second time in 7 days. Unlike the last one where I was at fault this time it was completely beyond my control. I was sitting in the top 15 riders of the race when I was hit from behind. Why the person ran into the back of me is unclear but the result was me being hurled to the ground. Regardless of why you crash, most crashes are pretty similar.
Usually when I have crashed my first thought is always, “sh*t, really? This is going to hurt!”. This is followed my rolling, bashing and etc. When you tell people you crashed on your bike most don’t understand how bad it can be. However when you consider, that in the last crash for instance, I was traveling at 43km/h when I fell. You then realize that it is the same speed as in a school zone back home, it would be the equivalent of jumping from a moving vehicle with nothing but a spandex shirt, shorts and a helmet.
The next moment is figuring out the extent of the damage, you slowly get to your feet and check that nothing is exceptionally sore or broken. The next step is to get your bike, make sure it is also intact and then try to get back in the race. It is not till you either drop out of the race or finish the stage that you will know the true extent of your wounds. Then comes the fun part.
You don’t fully realize how injured you are usually until you are done the race, then the adrenaline fades and everything starts to hurt. Where you are missing skin starts to burn and your muscles grow stiff. First step in treating the wounds are to get them clean. The only way to do that is to jump through a shower and clean out the road rash. Sometimes the pain is so bad in the shower that you have to sit down to clean out the wounds. I have heard from numerous guys almost passing out from the pain. Then you wrap them up and try to keep them covered for as long as possible.
The second day after the crash is when you fully become aware of all your injuries. Your body seems to block out the less serious injuries on the first day but the morning of the second day is usually when you go, “hmmmm, I didn’t know that my ankle was so sore.” or “Where did this huge bruise on my calf come from?”.
All in all most of the times when I (most riders) crash I get lucky and end up being able to continue to do the sport I love. And I will continue by on Monday starting a 5 day stage race and trying to be as useful to the team as I can. Wish me luck, I might need it.
Saturday afternoon I lay in bed feeling like a real amateur. I had managed to crash on our pre-race day ride with my room mate. I had gone down quite hard on my head and suffered a minor concussion. It frustrating after putting in a really good week of training and feeling the form coming to do something stupid like that. I was worried about how long bumping my head would set me back but it turned out it wasn’t that long. The next day I went for a spin and felt fine so on Monday I took to the start line in the GP van de stad van Geel. A 165km UCI 1.2 race that promised to be fast as the course was pan flat and there was no wind to speak of.
The race definitely lived up to the expectations as we average 49km/h for the first hour, did the first 100km in 2 hours and 3 mins and finished the race with an average speed of 48km/h. The race ended up being a bunch sprint and the team wasnt as present, and involved, in this sprint as we needed to be leaving us without a result. For me I was just content being in the race and feeling decently strong 2 days after my crash. Here are some pics from after the race,
The third installment of the Conquer Your Mountain web series. Hope you enjoy,
Tomorrow I face up against another race featuring cobbles, narrow roads and a good field. The UCI 1.2 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad will allow me to face off against both pro-continental and continental teams to see how far I still have to go before joining their ranks. The race starts with a 58km loop and then four 30km local laps featuring narrow roads and some flat cobbles.
The race on Wednesday went well but I found myself a little out of me league. With riders like Sven Nys, and the Landbouwkrediet having their A-Team there, we were a little out classed. Resulting with me getting pulled in the locals laps. It was still an awesome learning experience and a really good race. Here are some pics,
And the eventual winner Bert Scheirlinckx followed by Bert de Waele.