November 11 and 12
The season thus far has been pretty smooth without any major mechanical issues, technique errors or injuries. In fact I have been feeling better and better each week; even some of the niggling aches and problems I had are disappearing. It is terrific to feel strong and healthy. With that lead in I am sure you know what is coming…
On November 11th I lined up for a race in Pottstown at the Sly Fox brewery and restaurant. This race always has a fun energy to it with lots of fans, large fields of competitors and a challenging race course. This year the course had some very technical sections including a challenging off camber descent on frozen ground. In races prior to mine many riders chose to dismount and (attempt) to run down it. Even that was difficult as many simply slipped and fell. I heard that there were a good number of people who saw this section and simply decided to not even start their race. In pre-ride I worked this section through multiple times and was able to ride it cleanly. The trick was simply to commit to it and let it roll, no brakes. Are you getting a hint as to what happened?
In the race I started off well and was with the leaders, but on this day I was not at my best for whatever reason and could not stay with the leading trio of Kelly Cline, Kevin Justice and Bob Reuther. I was able to ride cleanly and with some power and so was able to battle for 4th place with several riders including Mike Stevens. I was particularly good in a difficult ascent and able to ride it most of the time where others had to dismount and run. This kept me in the battle. I also rode the tricky descent cleanly along with the other features. I was doing well. In fact Mike and I dropped our other competitors and closed in on Kelly (but never made the catch) due to my riding cleanly.
In the final lap, calamity struck. Mike and I were still battling back and forth when in the last half lap I crashed HARD. Ahh, but NOT where you think! I crashed in a simple part of the course. As I charged forward my handlebars caught a course stake and I was violently thrown down hard onto my right side. I felt my ribs pop and had the “wind knocked out of me”. I was quickly back up and on the bike as Mike gained 50 meters on me, but I knew I was hurt. Still, I rode the tricky descent cleanly and the other features and was able to just catch up to Mike at the finish line, but he held onto 4th.
After the race, my right rib cage hurt a lot. It was painful to move in certain ways. My shoulder and hip were sore as well, but that was nothing compared to the ribs. There was acute tenderness in the ribs and popping/clicking feel when I moved it certain ways. Not cool!
I went home and did the acute care of frequent ice to the area and ibuprofen for inflammation. I used Kinesio Tape to protect the ribs and stabilize the problem level. This actually worked wonders as the next day I could ride my bike without pain, although I could not bear any pressure to the right ribs.
This is where I didn’t follow good advice: I lined up to race again on Sunday November 12th at the Victory Brewery in Parkesburg, PA. I pre-rode the course and saw that it was NOT a technical course and I felt okay so I determined it would be safe to race. I just decided to give it my best and have fun.
Off the start I jumped into the lead for the first couple minutes until Kevin Justice came by and I followed him for the next several minutes. The two of us had a small gap on the remainder of the racers but Kevin was simply too strong for me and he rode away. A group caught up to me and I proceeded to lead the chase of Kevin for a couple more laps. I preferred to lead as it let me set my pace and pick my lines, but I was implored by fans watching the race to stop doing all the work and make someone else take over the lead.
Mike Stevens and Marty Mrugal made an effort to pass me, so I listened to the advice and let them take over. This worked against me as Marty set a blistering tempo and had me (and apparently the others) in difficulty. On top of this, a couple guys in our group made some errors which slowed me down and left me chasing to catch back up to Marty, Mike and now Bob Reuther. Unfortunately for Marty (but fortunate for me) he got a flat tire that slowed him down and sent him to the pit zone for his backup bike. This allowed me to regain contact but now Mike and Bob went on the attack leaving me struggling. I fought back but could not hold them. They rode in for second and third place with me a handful of seconds back in 4th.
Overall it was a good weekend of racing, but a bad weekend for my health and fitness. I was happy I could even race at all on Sunday considering my rib problem. My concern was that in one week was the Pennsylvania State Championship race which I was targeting. My number one focus was to recover and heal up. I determined that I could not do my strength training session, or my core strengthening work and I had to be careful on the bike. So that was the coming week’s plan: Mostly recovery riding, one session of intervals, and only one race the next weekend: PA States.