This past Wednesday I participated in a local track-like/criterium style bike race called Ring Of Fire. The evening started out well with a win in the 'C' race which is made up of Cat 4/5 riders. The 'C' race was fast right from the beginning with me setting the pace. I wanted to test everybody's legs and also input some fatigue into their legs quickly. I kept the pace high for the first 6 laps (points are scored on every 5th lap) and then let off the gas just slightly. Some damage had been done to the group and the field size shrank. Around lap 8 there was a prime, prize for the lap, up for grabs and the field went for it. I was beat to the line on this occasion by a rider visiting from Florida. Everybody looked exhausted at this point so I decided to make another strong surge to see who had anything left. I ended up breaking away from the group and ended up lapping half of the field by the last lap.
Ring of Fire is held on an abandoned automotive race track that is 500m long. There is a slight bank to the track and it is made out of pavement. Starting in April and going until August there is a weekly Point based criterium race and is always filled with action and excitement. This past Wednesday was the first race of the year which brought some big crowds and eager legs.
After completing the 'C' race I had 20 minutes until my next race which was the Cat 3/4 race. An even bigger field than the 'C' race pulled up to the line. Sadly, after 5 laps I was involved in a bad crash. The pack was finalizing their lead up coming out of the final corner when the rider in front of me began to slow down rapidly. I attempted to move to his outside but could not get my front wheel around his rear wheel. We crossed wheels and I lost control. I went pin-balling into a rider (and friend) to my right but had too much momentum to stay upright. I ended up flipping over the bars and slamming onto my back. We were going close to 30 mph at this point so when I hit the ground I slid for a couple of feet towards the track wall. When the dust settled I was laying face up and trying to catch my breath. I could feel a throbbing pain in my right side closer to the back and figured it might be a broken rib. I laid on the track for a minute or so while a local doctor checked me out. After he cleared me of any spinal damage we shuffled off the track to be checked out by the first-responders. I was in some serious shock and was having a lot of trouble talking because of the difficulty of breathing. After about 30 minutes my wife arrived and took me to the local hospital for further evaluation.
I limped my way into the Emergency Room feeling like a person on a TV show. I was in bad shape walking through the doors and caught the attention of the nurses at the front desk. Mission Hospital put me on the fast tract line due to my injuries and breathing problems. After about 3 hours of scans, imaging, and meeting with doctors I was diagnosed with a fractured rib and a small pneumothorax (collapsed lung). I was required to stay overnight for observation and possible surgery to inflate the lung. Little sleep and many hours later I was finally in the clear and released from the hospital. I am writing this three days after the accident and already feeling a lot better. Showers sting and deep breathing still sucks but is improving dramatically every day. As of right now I still plan to race at New Orleans but will not do anything to risk further injury or significantly delay the recovery process.
Thanks for reading and leave comments if you have questions or any other thoughts.