As the Elite Team was planning our schedule for the season back in the winter, I committed myself to riding 2 bigger Elite races to help out our younger guys. Joe Martin, in April, was the first race and I did OK there. Galena was the second race. That meant that I'd be doing the circuit race on Friday for the first time.
I pre-drove the course while I was helping to set things up (and sweep some potentially dangerous spots on the road), so I was a bit familiar with the route. It looked TOUGH! I was glad that I'd be doing just 5 laps instead of the 8 that they did the first year that we held Galena.
The first lap wasn't easy and I drifted to the back of the field on the climbs. Still I finished the first lap at the back of the lead group. Unfortunately, I got gapped off the back on the 2nd lap on the steep KOM hill and was chasing after that. I could see the lead group ahead of me and couldn't see the guys who were behind me so I kept chasing hard. On the first lap, when I was with the pack, I felt that they were being way too conservative on the descents. I was kind of happy to get to descend on my own at this point as I was able to open it up and have some fun on the descents.
Unfortunately, I hit one of the descents (after Cemetery Rd.) a bit too fast and almost lost it. I was able to save it, however, and made a note to not go quite so fast around that corner on the next lap.
On the third lap I was still chasing and hit a downhill that had a bit of a decreasing radius turn that was also pretty steep. On the first two laps, when I was in the pack, I thought that we took this corner way to slow and I was certain that I could make up a bit of time by blasting through the corner.
Unfortunately, on this time around I discovered that the pavement was much bumpier than I had realized and the additional speed I was carrying really emphasized this. I was coming in too hot and had to break hard to scrub enough speed to get around safely. Breaking hard, my rear wheel popped up into the air over several of the bumps and locked up in the air. When it landed it skidded and washed out. With the road quickly turning to my left, I was sliding to my right and ended up on my side and in a ditch.
I was so surprised. I'm a really good descender. I really never doubted that I'd make that corner (or else I would have slowed down more). It just goes to show you that no matter how good you are at something, there is still a limit to what you can do.
Fortunately, Tracy was right there and was able to call for help. Brian came around and took me to bee seen by Tiber and Charles took me to the hospital. Sue drove my car to the hotel so that Kari and Matthew could get to the hospital. Thank you to everyone who helped me out!
Now, I'm left with three broken ribs and lots of road rash. My summer goal of the Open TT at Elite Nationals is in jeopardy. This is when the "flexible" part of my goal setting workshop comes in. I'll have to re-evaluate things as I go through my next week (which was planned to be a rest week anyway). At that point I should be able to decide if I can still properly prepare for the TT at Nationals or if I need to look to a goal further down the road.
Fortunately, I've had these type of setbacks before (broke my collar bone and needed surgery at Galena in 2011), so I know that I'll bounce back. It is a long road and it is challenging, but I can do it.