so it's race day at about four-thirty in the afternoon and i get an email from my little friend cr asking me to promise not to get hurt, so i send her an email containing this text
tonight the course will be wet, but i'll run my tires a little soft. (grippy)
i have ridden this course and practiced it. it rides beautifully and is super fun, like dancing. i can ride it all without footing down on a good day, and there are no technical elements that scare me. it is the safest of the courses, the fastest, and my favorite.
my shifters are all working smoothly and are adjusted well for this course.
i have no choice about riding slower next week, since that course has been described as "climb-y".
while i can't promise not to hurt myself, i CAN promise not to tell you about it, and since you only see me clothed (and nearly always long sleeves), you'll never know the difference.
besides, a few bruises and scratches are what happen when you ride tough. if you're going really fast and taking a few chances you often graze a tree or something. no serious harm, but nobody goes super fast by not taking any chances.
the key is not to take STUPID chances. a fast ride is worth a few bruises. it is NOT worth broken bones, and part of riding smart is knowing the difference.
and i even go so far as to make what i think is a snappy little graph:
and i'm joking about it with my friends and i go warm up and i come to the start and they're talking about the trail conditions (slippery; it has rained all day) and there are some women on my start talking about a rooty section of trail right above the oven and i tell them the best way to go through is to pick a good line, close your eyes, and go fast.
i have had a lot of experience with those roots over the years. i know what i'm talking about.
so i go out of the start all fast and everything and i'm leading the pack which is a sucky place for me to be because i never know how to pace myself and one guy goes ahead of me, so i get on his tail and there's another guy coming up behind me and i want him to pass now or else wait until after those roots because i have BUSINESS to tend to and i'm thinking about what cr said and the next thing i know i am thinking "cr is gonna be mad about this" and then i have no memory about what happens next except that i'm lying facedown on the ground telling racers behind me to jump over me and keep racing.
one guy stops to very gingerly unclip my right foot and remove my bike from on top of me, and i assure him that i can still feel my fingers and toes and i'm all right.
but i can't move.
it's not a surprise, exactly. usually when i get hit hard i just pass out, or i get this weird temporary paralysis that i can only explain as my body's way of telling me to sit right there for a few moments while it takes stock of the situation. i have hit the ground sufficiently hard to have peed myself.
i explain to the guy that it's going to be a few minutes before i can move at all, and therefore a few minutes before i will know if i'm hurt and that other riders will be along soon, so he should go.
and he does.
and i'm lying there thinking: "(proper name) will be coming along soon. i'd better get up if i want to stay ahead of her."
and i still can't move the left side of my body, but i at least drag myself off the trail. apparently i have flown headlong over my handlebars, managing to keep my arms and legs and head free of the crash, which means i have landed at a pretty good speed with my full weight (and i'm heavy) on my belly.
and then suddenly i get up and get on my bike. i don't remember it, but the next memory i have is me coming around the next corner and barreling down the straightaway at the oven and i'm passing a woman at a pretty good clip and i'm thinking: "all right. this is gonna be AWESOME. i'll go super fast and i'll make up my lost time!"
and then at the corner where it's not downhill anymore i simply don't have the strength to carry my speed through. i can't breathe so well. and i don't have any power in my legs. and i think: "well, i got the wind knocked out of me. i'll take it easy going up this and then i'll be AWESOME."
so the course turns right and goes over the top of ridge run (not down it) and across and down little ridge run, which is fun and twisty and fast and one of my favorite parts of the course but i can't control my steering because my arms are shaking too much and i overshoot EVERY corner and have to foot down and every time i foot down it hurts so much i think i'm going to puke and i'm thinking: "well, this would be the post-fall adrenaline rush. i'll just get down this and onto the woods road and i'll calm down and then i'll be AWESOME."
so the shaking stops mostly and i turn off of the woods road onto the next singletrack but i still haven't got the strength to control properly the front end of my bike and i'm thinking: "well, apparently you need you abs for a lot of these things. i'll just stay loose and try to compensate with other muscles and i'll be AWESOME."
and by some miracle i make the next turn and i make it over the rock wall just fine but i'm out on that fabulous singletrack that rides so nice and i can't steer well enough to go fast, and i'm not going fast enough to carry momentum, and by now the truth sets in: THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE AWESOME.
i can barely turn granny gears and when i get off to walk, i can barely do that, but by this time i have passed up every opportunity to cut the course and come in DNF. i am now pretty far out from the end and the only way out is out so i grimly readjust my goals from "awesome" to "finish" and do my best with it.
so i come up the chute and lay in the grass, trying to find a position that doesn't hurt really, really bad because now the post-crash adrenaline (which i could have used to come in instead of finishing) has worn off and the pain is starting to set in pretty bad and i'm trying not only to position myself so that it's less painful, but so that if i vomit, i'm facing downhill.
because at this point i'm not certain i don't have internal injuries.
i'm pretty sure i haven't torn or broken anything skeletal, and that my organs are more or less un-ruptured, but i know that it's possible to bruise something so that a slow bleed is a bit of a problem later on.
so we wait a few minutes, and discuss our options and we're pretty sure after a little examination that i've only badly bruised all my abs, which is gonna hurt a lot, but that barring a sudden increase of sharp pains or a discharge of inappropriate color, i'm probably just fine.
so my friends take my shirt off for me. i had managed to wear one of my old shirts as part of my stroll down memory lane and it's a shirt that's hard to get off under good conditions and they put a clean shirt on me and racked my bike for me and drove me home.
it is not good when you some home stinking of urine and dressed in someone else's clothes.
so i had a hot shower and managed to fix myself some dinner and i put on some compression shorts which i pulled up high over my belly for a little more support and put on a tight shirt and it's painful but i'm getting along ok if i remember to lie down for a little while every so often.
choir practice tonight is going to suck.