Frustrating & Sad End To My Season

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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.

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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.

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8 thoughts on “Frustrating & Sad End To My Season

  1. Heal up Matt and get back on the bike. Old coach used to say after a wreck, “Sometimes you bite the bear, sometimes the bear bites you.”

    But this situation is an incredible outlier. Never even heard of road sabotage like this locally. The local road race scene is so fragile and cental Illinois so under-accommodating. Hope this doesn’t push people out, but rather firms up resolve to soldier on.

    And if this is your first serious wreck, take care. Everyone that races hits the deck sooner or later, regardless of why. Drink lots of water, ride easy for a while and third day after is the worst. That’s my standard advice.

    Though this whole thing with the tacks is bizarre. Shrug it off. Keep riding.

    Get better soon, Matt.

  2. Sorry to hear about this. Question: are there any security cameras that may cover the area? If you file a police report they can investigate and see who did it, providing that the corner is covered, which in that area, looks like it very well might be.

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  4. So bummed to hear about this. I’ve heard about tacks on course before but only rarely, and that was in the pros. Seems ridiculous to do it to cat IV. My first year racing USCF events, I went down 5x. Four in crits and once on the track. The last one, the rider next to me was making fun of me on the start line for crashing and then when they sounded the start, he fell over on to me, while trying to clip in. But it’s a fun sport. Take care and get back in there.

  5. There’s plenty of evil in the world, but keep the faith. There”s far more good people in the world. Keep the faith and heal quickly!

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