Sunday, March 16, 2014

"Ditching" At the Finish

It's not what you think, but I'll get to that.

Mason Lake #2--The weather was much the same as last week, except more rain. I opted to wear the little bike hat under my helmet to keep some of the rain and spray off my glasses. Today it was me, Jean, and Debbie representing OOA. I wasn't too sure how my legs would feel after yesterday's thigh-scorching finish.

We had mentors again. This time they were, our own Michelle, and Gina, from Bike Sale. There were 23 of us racing. Some of the same gals from last week were there. I think, for the most part, Jean and I were the only ones who had also raced Sequim yesterday.

We rolled out neutral as usual. After the first corner, we were racing. Except, also as usual, not too fast up the hill. This time, even after the hill, we were still going at a quite leisurely pace. I was just fine with that. The longer I could go without having to put forth much effort, the better my legs would be. Most everyone was doing well. One Bike Sale gal seemed to be spinning at a pretty fast cadence. I wanted to tell her to shift. She was like a hamster on a wheel! Instead, I just got away from her. There was a Fisher Plumbing gal who was quite sketchy, but Gina had a chat with her.

The only thing of significance in the first lap was that I looked ahead, and Jean was on the front! Jean is smart and usually stays tucked in. She stayed out there for awhile too! Then I noticed she was tucked back in, but still near the front. Excellent! She was feeling good!

As we came around Corner 1 on the second lap, the pace picked up. I was watching Malia, a new gal from Este Racing. She was in the break-away last week. I had decided if she went, I would go too (if my legs would cooperate). Between corner 1 and corner 2 she did attack with another gal. I went after them, trying not to drag the whole pack with me. One other gal came too. The four of us were working hard, but soon I could hear the whir of the other wheels. Then Malia went again, and I followed. But, so did everyone else. This time, I was breathing pretty heavy. I started coughing, then I was gagging. Everyone went by. I got my breathing under control, and took off to get back to the group. I got back, and sat in for awhile. Then I went up the left to the front. I was on the front for awhile (this was the only time of the whole race I had been on the front). I was just starting to get worried about running out of steam, when a bunch of gals passed me. I was able to tuck in and recover. Just before the 1km, and for a lot of the distance from 1km to the 200m, there is a lot of downhill. I was able to rest and was feeling like I would have a good sprint left in my legs. The group was not going that fast after the 1km. We were mostly all in a group. There was not a break-away this week.

The 200m to the Finish

I was right next to the yellow line coming up to the 200m sign--right where I like to be. We passed the 200m sign. I was near the back. Several gals moved over the yellow line, but I had a pretty clear path to go up the left side. I had shifted into a harder gear, got into the drops, and got out of the saddle to sprint. I was moving up the left, when all of a sudden, a big bunch of gals went down in a pile. All I remember seeing is the white kit bottoms of the gal in front, and to the right of me, come careening into my line. As my line was at the side of the road, I had no option but to change my line to the ditch. Actually, I was pretty much pushed into the ditch. There was a fair amount of water in this ditch. My head landed and slid through that water before coming to a stop. Debbie, who managed to brake and avoid the crash, says I popped up out of the water really fast. I say, you try taking an unexpected swim in a ditch of cold water in March. You'd probably pop up pretty quick too! As I sat up and started to crawl out of the primordial swamp of ditch water, I looked across the road and saw Jean sitting, holding her shoulder and crying. I got to my feet and went to her. Her shoulder (her bad one from last year's unfortunate encounter with a dog in Chelan) was hurting really bad. Debbie had finished and come back. Jean was asking for Ron, so Debbie went to find him. One of the race officials came over. He started to help her up, but I told him to not touch her shoulder. We got her to her feet, and Michelle and I walked her to the follow-car. She kept looking at me and saying she couldn't stop crying. I told her it was okay to cry. She was a little in shock. We got her into the car, and they headed to the start place.

I returned to Tessa. A gal was starting to walk her to the finish. I said, "That's my bike, I'll take her." Her chain was wedged between the spokes and the large cog on the back. I managed to disengage it and get it back on. The bar tape was no longer white, but a lovely shade of mud brown, as was I for that matter. Michelle tried to brush some of the mud and pine needles off my back, and Debbie brushed the stuff off my face. I realized my glasses were gone, but another gal had them. She had put them back together and handed them to me. I put them back on. Michelle checked out my bike, and I got back on to ride back to the start. As Michelle and I were riding, I asked if it still counted if I crossed the finish line. She said it did, so I made sure they knew I finished. 

Muddy 271

Good thing I hadn't put the new purple and red bar tape on yet!

I rode the rest of the way back to the car. I was freezing cold because of my soaking swim in the ditch. Fortunately, Debbie's car was open, and I was able to get out of my wet clothes and into the dry ones. My left hip was stinging some, and my shoulder a little sore. I mostly have just scratches and small bloody dots on my hip. My shoulder looks okay. I had mud on my back all the way through to my bottom base layer. My hair was a mess of mud and pine needles (and I just washed it on Friday too!). Apparently, my face wasn't much better. My bib shorts managed to get just one teeny tiny hole in them. Whew! After my shower at home I even cleaned pine needles out of my ear!

For my efforts, I got lucky (?) 13th place. Not exactly what I had planned for the day. However, I do consider myself pretty lucky. There were 9 DNFs, 5 finishers after me, and Debbie thinks she was the last across the line of those who didn't crash--she got 9th. So, potentially, not counting at least one gal who quit after the first lap due to a saddle mechanical, there could have been up to 17 people who crashed--although I don't think it was that many. I think, by landing in the ditch, I came out of the mess one of the least injured. Jean, on the other hand, was not so lucky. Her collarbone is broken. I will miss riding with my training and racing buddy! 

There were so many possible titles for this post. Here are a few I considered:
"Who Knew Mason Lake Was a Duathlon?"
"The Lake Would Be a Better Swimming Hole"
"Diving for the Finish"
And..."Check That Off the List of Things I Don't Want Do Again!"

Out of the four road races I've done so far this season, half have had major crashes! This is not good! As for the cause of today's crash, the only thing I've heard is that the Lead Car saw, possibly, a Bike Sale gal's wheel "go up". I'm not sure what that means, or how that happens. All I know, is that all hell broke loose, and a whole lotta people went down. But, it's a bike race, and anything can happen--even ditching at the Finish!

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