Planes, mustangs and bike crashes.
GET IN THE VAN! Errr, no, thanks though. Picking up the recent prize money meant I could fund my own flight to the following race, Tour of the Gila, to avoid an 18 hour drive. Logistically it was only possible due to a teammate being in the same position and an alignment of stars that meant his father was in El Paso. The following day we did the 2 hour transfer from the airport to the race. We had a convertible mustang. Big tick in the to-do-list of life, a welcome distraction.
The 5 day Tour of the Gila was a brief affair for most of Astellas Cycling. The now infamous “entire peloton crash” consumed 80 guys at 50mph. The only non-affected team mate was in the break of the day and did a great job.
Although bruised, I was still walking after the crash. I couldn’t find my bike in the melee and went to attend to fallen friends. I found Brecht in the ditch nursing his broken collar bone, I checked Andy still had all of his teeth for him (he did, it was ok) and I got to see Cortlan’s patella through a hole in his skin the size of a mandarin. My manager was off trying to find my bike as it was clear I should have been the only one making the finish at this point. After rescuing it from the sand I began to ride again. I made the time cut by 5 minutes. This is the first crash from the SmartStop team car. It’s pretty disturbing with the sound on – be warned. You can see us at the tail end of the video.
The following day Max, and I were the only 2 to start from Astellas. We rode together and at the front all day. At about 30km to go, we crashed together too. The fight for position in a light crosswind got too tight and that was it. This time with 70 less participants as only 10 guys copped it. Max broke his collarbone and I got some more bruising and 2 puncture wounds on the inside of my right leg that made it all the way to the bone. Another time cut fight, and I was then the only Astellas rider remaining. Another video from SmartStop of this crash. The legs in the air are mine, and Max is sat slumped in the middle of the road. Far less disturbing.
I went really easy in the time trial to try and eek out an extra day of recovery before the remaining 2 days racing. It did mean I didn’t really get a chance to see how my body was doing after the crash. The following day’s criterium I did brilliantly for 2 of the 40 laps. I then got horrendous cramps in my right side where I had fallen and they rose up into my back. The remaining 38 laps I got to see how good I was with one working leg. A constant battle not to get dropped was a brilliant lesson in energy conservation but left me furious for about 5 more days as the same problem occurred the next day and try and I might I got DNF next to my name.
When all was said and done at Gila this was our list of misdemeanours:
· 4 broken levers · 6 tyres · 2 broken frames · Every set of bar tape (x5) · 1 front mech · 3 saddles · 2 Broken Collar bones · 1 patella with missing fragments of bone. Found, later on, somewhere within knee joint · Enough missing skin to make the entire population of L.A new handbags.
After the relative surgeries and the retail cost of our equipment we are estimating that the cost of the crash to Astellas is around the $60,000 mark. Ouch.
I am now on an altitude training camp in Big Bear, California before the one race that made me know I just had to race in America – The Parx Casino Philly Classic. It’s all or nothing for this one.