I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect course for me. Lots of mud. Lots of long power sections. Lots of technical cornering. I felt absolutely dialed on my prototype Redline Single Speed. It has been a great bike and a ton of fun to ride and race. I felt amazing while warming up and had perfectly warm, dry toes at the start line thanks to my new XLC shoe covers.
As this was the first official Single Speed National Championships, they were still working out some organizing logisitcs. Mainly, when the women would go off. In the techincal guide, it said we would start one minute after the men. When lined up with less than 2 minutes to go, we were informed we would start "after the guys round that corner" (pointing to the 3rd corner that passes the pits).
The guys went off and before they were around the previously said corner, they blew the whistle for us to be off. I unfortunately struggled to get into my pedal quickly off the line and finally got clipped just before the first turn from pavement onto a muddy uphill. I was now in full race mode and determined to take control of the race. Rounding the U-turn style muddy corner, I put it in full throttle coming down the muddy backside. Normally, it is a section I am a bit more reserved on as it is can be treacherous with the deep mud ruts, grooves and rocks. But trusting the mountain bike theory of greater speed means greater momentum over bumpy surfaces, I went for it. I had just pulled ahead into first, when the next thing I knew I was on the ground looking at the rest of the field coming towards me.
And I couldn’t find my bike. Dazed and stunned, everything was in slow motion. The women were shouting "get out of the way" at me and I was trying to find my bike so that I could get out of the way. Finally, someone (the race announcer who had been standing on the opposite side and further downhill on the course) turned me around so that I could see where my bike had gone…. Right where he had been standing on the opposite side of the course, at least 15 feet away.
He helped me walk over to my bike and I spent a long time just looking at it. My left shoulder hurt, but it moved in all directions so I knew I hadn’t broken it. The announcer asked me if I was going to keep racing or if I needed the medical tent. Although the field had all passed at that point, I was determined to keep trying to win a national championship. I gingerly got on my bike and barely made it 5 feet. My shoulder really hurt and was moving. Still being competitive, I told myself that maybe I’d be able to race tomorrow (the Master’s Championship race) if I got medical attention sooner than later as I could see my shoulder was disfigured.
At that point, friends and my husband were by my side. Friends taking the bike and my husband guiding me to the medical tent. Then the pain and reality began to really sink in. Fortunately the medical tent assistant sent us directly to the ER, less than 3 minutes away. Being half covered in mud and clinging to my arm helped expidite me past the waiting room and directly into the ER when the nurse made eye contact with me.
From there it was a long 2 hour process of nurses, MDs and being shuttled back and forth to xray. We did manage to save the Voler thermal skinsuit, but had to cut my other two baselayers off (only wearing 2 baselayers is actually an accomplishment for me – I first started racing cross wearing seven I was so cold). It was the first time I have ever needed nausea medication just because of the sheer pain, but the "good" news was that I didn’t break or dislocate my shoulder. I "just" separated the shoulder blade from the collar bone. Further work up in Seattle would make it an official grade III which means I separated all the ligaments.
My 2010 National Championship quest was over after less than a minute of racing my first (of three) races. Bummer. Even worse, the woman who ended up winning took my line, "It’s great to win the first single speed championship."
Despite the unfortunate end, it has overall been a great season and I can’t thank Team Redline and Seattle Bike Supply enough for all their support, team work, mentorship and sponsorship. I can hardly wait for next year!