Looking Back & Looking Forward

I’m sitting in a hotel currently homeless as we just sold our Illinois home and we’re about to make the drive south to our new home in Texas. It seemed like a good time to write a quick post to look back and look forward. In a few hours my wife and I are going to our local bike shop’s new years party, something of a special tradition at this point. One last night here to smile, talk about fond memories, and try not to get sad about leaving.

Looking Back

I had an enjoyable year on the bike with some great memories, new amazing trails ridden, and even raced my first year of crits ever. Some of the highlights are:

I had some changes done to my Ibis HD3 that I’d been wanting transforming that bike into something that fits so well into what I want. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I had a great early season trip to Alabama to escape the cold of the north and ride some rocky mountain bike trails with some decent elevation. Really fun trip I hope becomes an annual thing.

The annual Giant City roadie camp weekend is one of my favorite weekends of the year. I love the combination of being with great friends, early season excitement to ride, and a pretty beautiful place to ride in Illinois.

The Lake Tahoe trip was second to no other experiences I’ve had. Really great trip. It was big mountain biking but terrain and views were different from what I’ve seen in Colorado and Utah in past trips. Really beautiful place. 

Looking Forward

I’m looking forward to the exciting possibilities in Texas. I plan to explore as much of the riding as possible. It looks like there are many places with Singletrack in the area. I hope to find some gravel somewhere. I know the road riding will be warm and year round. I’m excited. I’m also sad to leave so many of the people who have made such a huge impact on my life when I moved here nine years ago. You know who you are. I love you. Thanks, really.

Onward & Forward.

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It’s Official, We’re Moving To Texas!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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