Yesterday morning I sat in the car waiting for Bennett, and thinking about rituals and symbols. I put some of those thoughts to into notes on the pages of the little notebook that follows me nearly everywhere I go. Those thoughts gave way to writing about suffering and the hope that the race we were driving to would deliver by the truck load.
The race was hard. Not really hard, but there were more attacks in the first ten miles than all of last years race. But nothing that couldn’t easily be shut down. Two laps later I was trying my damnedest to make one stick. Not because it was my best chance of getting a result, but because the combined four – five field was filled with sketchy riding. Guys who couldn’t hold a line while going for bottle, guys who couldn’t pull their nose away from their computer. Somehow they kept finding their way to the front.
I’m not a hot shot by any stretch, but I do race a lot and I stick near the front. I’m always in the mix with a small group of others. I don’t know those guys well but I do trust them to ride straight, take a turn and ride a straight line. Those guys were there too, but so were the sketchy guys.
Two people said something to a guy in Welsh kit. I said something to him three times. The third time I let go of the niceties and let loose with the sailor’s speech. He said something to me, but I ignored it. He then chopped the wheel of one of the strong guys. Then he brake checked him on the next rise.
With 5k to go I was near the front, where its supposed to be safe. We rolled down a small hill, I was thinking about dropping the counter move when we caught the one guy up the road. I was feeling good. Then it all fell apart.
Sitting here I’m reminded of something Mark Twight wrote in Kiss or Kill. I can’t recall the exact quote but it went something like this: Things go wrong all at once, never by degrees. At that’s what happened. A rider came over on me, hit my front wheel hard and I went down. I rolled, then was ran over twice. My bike bounce fifteen feet down the road, my rear wheel went even further. I couldn’t hear the chaos around me, all was silent as I put my hands over my over my head and readied for another impact. It didn’t come.
Once I realized I was ok I sat up and unleashed a torrent of obscenities that only people know me best can fully comprehend. I raced in our new team kit twice. It is destroyed beyond repair and now sits in our trash can. My derailleur hanger is bent, the rear wheel I put on not twenty-four hours before needs to have its hub rebuilt because a titanium skewer cut through it. The right hand shifter melted. Road rash peppers the left side of my body. Parts can be replaced, my skin grows back (which is amazing).
Then today, as I took off my wrecked bottle cage I was confronted by two dents with small hairline cracks opposite the water bottle bosses. I won’t know for certain till tomorrow, but at the moment it feels like my whole season rests on a few seconds of someone’s inattention.