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Category: Sunshinecoaster Race

A series of decisions leading to an unfortunate event

A series of decisions leading to an unfortunate event

I’m sitting in a chair at the hospital waiting for my x-rays to be looked at by a surgeon.  My shoulder in a sling and elbow resting on the arm of the chair.  There doesn’t seem to be a comfortable position to keep my throbbing collarbone from aching.   My mom just came in to give me crap on messing up my shoulder and my wife is equally as mad.  Both of my loves are angry from worry I suspect.

It’s always good to look at any event in post-mortem and waiting for 3 hours can do wonders on any reflection.  Racing the Sunshinecoaster Race was a goal of mine when I first threw my leg over the my new G bike in January.  Mountain biking was just the ticket to get a early start on this spring and summer road riding.  As I started riding, my confidence grew and my fitness gained quickly.  Two months ago I registered, and last month I started pre-riding the course.  The course itself is a very hilly course with lots of steady 12% grunts.  My G bike although good at climbing is still a beast at 34 lbs but on the downhills, it eats roots and boulders for breakfast.

As I got closer to the race time, I have a friend that offered the use of his bike. Its a Cove titanium 22.75lb (yes I weighed it) with SRAM X0/XX components.  Its hugely light and being titanium, its lively (I call it squirelly) on the downhills.  Riding it, I would be able to climb the hills in no time and traverse the roads in short order and try to keep upright on the downhills.  I should get a PR time and much glory!

Prior to the race, I worked on the race bike.  I put new brake pads in which made the braking super sensitive, cleaned the drivetrain and pumped up the tires.  The tires were leaking air so I put Stans in for re-sealing.  Taking the bike out for a quick burn around the block, this bike felt so foreign to me.  Something was nagging me to use my old bike, but I shrugged it off thinking it’ll be worth the bike switch as I’ll be faster on the titanium bike.

So the day of the race, last chance, I threw the titanium bike into the car and off I went to the race.  My warm-up I rode down the last section of the race course which was a new, bumpy, tight singletrack that my bike kept diving into the holes, stop at all the roots and I hated the brakes.  I pre-rode this section of the course with the G, and I didn’t noticed the roots and stuff then.  I stopped to talk to my friend about me using the bike, and she said that I should be using the G.  I know…..I told her.

And off we went.  I started out too hard – 175bpm.  A very unsustainable pace, but I was climbing well, up ITL lands and B&K, down Black Tower (couldn’t go fast due to other riders), up Patrick’s Pass and Up Pumpkin Patch.  Back up B&K to Dude’s Bypass – wait, I felt a twinge in my calf – yes, okay back it off and start eating (I’m a chronic cramper, so anything longer than 1 hour, I start to cramp without something with Mg in it).  Down and up Grant’s Grind, along Wagon Trail.  About this time, I was thinking that I was definitely losing it and started thinking about the short course.  I’ll make the decision to at the bottom of the tube.  Tired and crampy, I started down the Tube.  I usually fly down this course with my G bike, but this bike made me really nervous and to be more on the brakes.  I got to a small section of sloping off-camber roots, and I must of  touched the brakes cause I went down hard.  Was that stars?  What was that sound?  Another rider stopped and helped me up and my bike (thanks by the way).  I was done.  I couldn’t move my shoulder or lift my bike so I knew it was a collarbone.  First Aid was on me in no time and had me whisked away in an ambulance.  I had a cracked helmet, which was why they were concerned.  Lots of questions and adding math to check if I had a concussion.

Learnings from the race:

 1) A lighter bike will not make you faster if you are not confident with its abilities.  The brakes were too sensitive which made it difficult to feather hard sections of the race.   Actually, I put my ride into Strava and on the climbing sections, I was faster during my pre-ride  with my G!!!!  Unbelievable!
2) Match tires to the course.  I used a Maxxis Lust which is a summer, hard pack tire.  It wasn’t the tire of choice on this greasy, root infested trails of the course.  My G has Conti Trail King which wouldn’t have been a problem.
3) Be smart at the start and pace yourself for the whole ride.  I’m sure that I would have burnt myself out sooner than later.
4) Listen to that nagging part of your mind that says “don’t introduce any new bikes or components that you are not familiar prior to a race”.
5) PR and personal glory is not an excuse for increasing your chances of getting hurt.  Next time it will be different – way different!

I just got an email from the Race Organizer – Sue – and she’s offered a free entry into next years race.  Awesome!  Thanks Sue, Search and Rescue and the other volunteers for great first aid and taking care of me.  Yes – I will race it next year and I’ll have 364 days to develop my strength to peddle my G-beast up hills and skillfully go faster on the downhills!

—-WAB1234—-