It’s Official, We’re Moving To Texas!

mj5l8166-c

We’ve had this in the works for a while.  I’m excited about many aspects of the move like warmer winters, allowing my wife to work three 12 hour shifts a week as a RN which will allow for more time spent hanging out with our daughter.  We’re going to miss seeing our friends and loved ones weekly, but there’s always airplanes and car trips.  Cheers to the next chapter in life!

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

What Happens After Falling Down? Getting Back Up.

It’s been just over two weeks since the Bloomington Crit where someone threw tacks on the race course resulting in lots of people crashing and damage to bodies and bikes.  I’ve had a lot of time to reflect and I wanted to wrap up the experience, or at least my thoughts on it.

After I crashed, after I walked out of the ER with luckily no broken bones, after I learned of the actions that led to the whole crash, after all of that, I felt numb.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the why or what it meant.  I was living in the middle of situation that people felt strongly about.  News outlets were contacting me.  It was weird.

The Low Point

The lowest point for me wasn’t the pain, it wasn’t my mangled road bike, the worst of it came when I started watching the reactions of the internet.  While a lot of people were supportive and said kind or constructive things, others were just evil in my eyes.  Here’s a glimpse into what I saw.  I took a lot of screenshots.  I don’t know why.  It felt like this was important and I wanted to capture the whole thing.

comments-no-extra-border

Reading that stuff hurt.  I was sad to be reminded of how cruel the world I live in can be.  It made me think about the hundreds of times a car passes me traveling over 50 miles per hour while I’m riding in the country.  It was sad to be reminded that cyclist safety can be such an afterthought or even something funny to joke about.

I’m still pretty young, I’ve learned a lot in my thirty-two years, and I have a lot more to learn.  I’ve learned how easy it can be for any group to look at another group and make generalizations.  It seems so easy for some non cyclists to look at cyclist and see annoyance stemming from things like slowing down their morning commute or a cyclist that blew a stop sign.  Cyclists, like all people aren’t perfect.  I’m sorry if a cyclist has annoyed you.  I’m sorry you had to slow down and switch lanes to avoid me while we were both commuting to work.  If I could influence one change from all of this it would be to remind non cyclist that we’re all people doing what we have to sometimes, what we enjoy when we can, and have a little more patience and understanding.

Getting Back Up

Thanks to my amazing wife for many things.  She’s a wound care certified registered nurse, a real treat if you’re a cyclist with skin missing from hands, hips, knees and more.  She tended to my wounds, dealt with me being a man baby with some of the pain, and kept positive throughout the whole thing.  I find myself reminded how lucky I am to have her.  I’ll spare you of pictures of all the injuries.  My left hand was the worst of my injuries.  Here’s a day of and current picture of it, it’s incredible how fast and well it has healed.

hand-healing-progress

The flip side of the negative comments were the positive outreach that swept over me day after day.  I was reminded how big our cycling community is.  My local cycling friends and teammates reached out with kindness, offering to mow my yard and other tasks while I healed.  Dean and Paul from Axletree reached out from the Chicago area.  That meant a lot.  I’ve attended as many Axletree events as I’ve been able to manage in the past three or so years.  Those folks are so awesome.  They do so much advocacy, host amazing events that make people’s year, and are genuinely good people.  I see those people a few times a year but they reached out the same weekend with words that helped and even offering to help fund the repair my road bike.  The owners of my amazing local bike shop that have forever changed my life were there in more ways than I can list.  Scott, one of the owners, was the first face I saw after picking myself up off the ground.  He helped me walk back to my family.  He carried my bike, helped sort out what was damaged in the crash, he did so much.

I’m tearing up just thinking about all of this.  I’m surrounded by crazy awesome people.  You know who you are, thank you from the truest part of my heart.

Luckily when I decided to start racing crits in 2014 I purchased bike racing insurance.  In short, they paid for everything that was damaged.  I’ll be building a replacement bike as soon as the Dura-Ace 9150 Di2 group becomes available because I’m a bike snob.  Until then, I’m spending time on some bikes that have been collecting a bit of dust, my cyclocross bike and my fat bike.  I climbed onto a bike for the first time last Thursday for 30 or so miles with my amazing teammates.  It felt so good to get back out there.  I was nervous, I was out of shape compared to where I was, but it was so good for me to pedal again.  I rode cyclocross practice tonight and did really well.  Things are going to be alright.

I’m racing Chequamegon 40 for the fourth year this coming weekend, but doing so not on a race breed cross-country bike but rather my thirty pound fatbike because I sold my S-Works Epic last week.  I’ve been planing on selling it at the end of the season, but after the crash I thought I’d list it early to help my odds of selling it before winter and I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to mange holding onto the handlebar for 40 miles at Chequamegon.  I’m going to soak in the experience, enjoy the race a bit more in terms of taking it in verses killing myself trying to beat my goal time, take a picture or three and afterwards spend time around a fire with friends.

Looking back at what happen and whats in front of me, I’m optimistic, I’m happy, things are good.

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

Frustrating & Sad End To My Season

14163734_1183913641679964_1732339910_o14124199_1183905655014096_248233247_o
Photos by David Ford

This was it.  I’d started my season of training in February and seven months later I was ready.  All year I’ve been thinking about two races.  The first being the Bloomington Criterium and the second being Chequamegon 40.  This past Saturday I rolled up to the start line of the criterium, which happen to be the 2016 Illinois State Championship.  I felt good in the hours leading up to the race and even better as the race went on.  I was riding smart.  I could stay with the attacks and sat in where it made sense.  I stayed in between third and fifth conserving energy and watching for breaks that may stick.  I was riding well physically and mentally.  About 30 minutes into our 40 minute race we were going around turn six as we’d done so many times…

Then it happen.

At first I was confused.  I knew what had happen, I was laying on the tarmac watching people run into me and my bike, hearing the horrible sound of carbon and metal scraping the ground at speed and bodies desperately looking for hope in chaos.  In the apex of the turn at about 25 miles per hour my front tire went flat.  I felt my tire not hold the angle and turn I’d asked it too.  I knew in the split second before I hit the ground my front tire was flat and then I heard the rim hit the road followed by my body.  I say I was confused because it didn’t feel real.  I’ve crashed on the dirt plenty but until that moment, I’d never crashed on the road.  I’ve thought about it, hoped I’d never know first hand what it was like, but I found my mind realizing that I was living in a moment, I’d spent so much time hoping to avoid.  I couldn’t believe it happen.

When my front tire went flat, it didn’t feel normal or right.  Something felt off.  I walked to where my team was at, sat down and was trying to come to terms with what happen.  My wife who is a nurse was tending to my wounds and my good friends that own my local bike shop were right there making sure I had everything I needed and was alright.

Then I heard about the tacks.  People were finding tacks on the course.  Handfuls of tacks.  To be clear, my race was the third of the day on the course and no one from the previous races had any tacks or flat issues.  The Sram neutral support found something like 15 tacks in tires from my race (cat 4), my teammate alone had three tacks in his rear tire.  My rear tire still has a tack in it.  To me the abundance of tacks in tires in the cat 4 race but none in tires from the previous hours of race course use makes it probable someone threw tacks on the course after the cat 5 race but before the cat 4 race.

14080026_10154064126592800_7329760069196203051_nPhoto by Tom Keller

This next image is a little graphic, sorry if it makes you squeamish.  My hands are just one part of my body with skin missing now.  My left hand is pretty bad.  My elbows, my left hip, thigh, knee, shin, and both ankles.  My right shoulder.  My chin.

12322940_10100601932670904_2456440095585050916_o

Here’s a video of the crash.  It happen so fast and from my perspective out of nowhere.

Video by Patrick Murphy

I still don’t know how I feel about all of this.  I’m typing this with bandages all over my body and hands.  My body is banged up, my bike is pretty bad, and my season is either over or will have a different ending than I would have had if someone hadn’t decided to throw tacks on the race course.  A frustrating and sad end to my season.

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!

2016 Lake Tahoe Trip

2016-08-01 11.27.53-1-2

The highlight every year cycling for me are the big group trips.  Winning a race is amazing, but doesn’t come anywhere close to a great trip.  Time spent with special people who feel like family, amazing locations, and shared experiences that will last a lifetime are as good as it gets for me.  This year, we traveled to Lake Tahoe, California.  The week we spent was perfect, great weather, amazing trails, smiles shared on the porch around meals, I could go on and on…

A lot of the amazing downs are captured in the video at the bottom of this post.  Check that out, I’m pretty proud of it.

Day One, Cold Water Downhill – Garmin Data

After unpacking our bikes and building them up, I joined a good friend for an out and back to get our tires into some Lake Tahoe downhill action.  The trail’s surface was made up of sandy granite dust, dirt, and rock.  The elevation wasn’t as bad as trips to high mountain areas but rides starting around 6,500′ and climbing to above 9,500′ on some days did remind you where you were.

2016-07-30 10.48.16-1-2 2016-07-30 11.18.28-2 2016-07-30 11.28.24-2

Day Two, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill – Garmin Data

2016-07-31 11.53.18-2 2016-07-31 12.36.52-2

My loved Ibis HD3 and I were in real harmony this trip.  It’s dialed in to what I wanted in a trail bike almost to my idea of perfection.  I love the one by eleven drivetrain.  The 28 tooth chain ring paired with the 42 tooth cog allowed for easy work up any pitch and the 10 tooth cog allowed me to pedal as fast as I dared.  The brakes were great, the tires were great, I’m really happy with the bike.

2016-07-31 11.28.32-2 2016-07-31 12.53.33-2

My good friend Matt riding his Ibis HD3 much better than I can, making fun work of the terrain.  It’s really fun to ride behind him until he disappears riding away from me.  His bike skills as well as his character are equally impressive, and I look up to both traits, even if his signing is pretty bad on the climbs.  Spending time with him and his family make these trips a great experience.

2016-07-31 13.07.26-6-2

Day Three, Star Lake Loop – Garmin Data

This was our big ride of the week, climbing over 3,800′ to Freel Pass at 9,535′.  The last 1,000′ were pretty steep and tough.  The views were great up there though.

2016-08-01 11.17.57-2 2016-08-01 11.31.53-2 2016-08-01 11.08.08 HDR-2 2016-08-01 12.21.28-2 2016-08-01 12.23.15-2

On the descent, we passed by Star Lake, a real beauty tucked away in the mountains that my iPhone picture doesn’t do justice.

2016-08-01 13.04.18-2

Day Four, Family Beach Time

2016-08-02 11.58.00-2

Day Five, Mr. Toads Wild Ride – Garmin Data

Mr. Toads Wild Ride is probably my favorite downhill I’ve ever ridden.  It’s really good.  The top section has tech far bigger than I feel comfortable riding but it soon fades into tech right at or slightly above my comfort level, making for great fun.  The trail didn’t let up like many of the downhills I’ve ridden.  Mr. Toads Wild Ride felt like the tech, speed, and fun were turned up the entire down.  I loved it.

2016-08-03 16.02.09-2 2016-08-03 16.05.59-2

Day Six, Armstrong Pass to Corral Downhill Revisited – Garmin Data

We revisited the Corral Downhill on day six, it didn’t disappoint the second time, great trail.

2016-08-04 08.57.35-2

Day Six, Flume Trail – Garmin Data

Flume Trail was one I wanted to ride after hearing about it, so I doubled up on my last day to catch it.  The ride had a 1,400′ sandy climb up and down on the out and back route I rode.  There wasn’t any real tech and once on Flume Trail, there was no real climbing or descending, but the views of Lake Tahoe were second to none.  The beauty of the ride for me is only rivaled by 401 in Crested Butte, CO.

2016-08-04 16.42.30-2 2016-08-04 16.49.30-2 2016-08-04 16.56.58-2 2016-08-04 17.00.49-1-2 2016-08-04 17.04.30-2

Beyond the amazing riding, this vacation was perfectly rounded for me personally.  There was a great balance of family time, resting away from work, hanging out with friends, and cycling.  It was a great recharge, and a reminder of what cycling trips mean to me.

MJ5L7503-2

Here’s a video I put together of some of the downhill awesomeness.  The climbs were definitely worth it.  The video is a bit shakey in parts and there’s the occasional annoying Camelbak chest strap in the view.  I’m still learning and to be fair, tech is bumpy :)

Enjoy what you read? Subscribe to be notified of future posts via email by either clicking the Follow button at the bottom or the Subscribe section on the right!