Tour of Fairbanks 2016- Prologue.

Three points before I get started:
1.) What happened was my fault. As much as I wish it wasn't, it's part of racing. I caused it, and I paid for it.
2.) The organizers had to make a quick decision with the racers' safety in mind. I can't blame them.
3.) On the whole, I had a great experience this year. Bottom line, that's what counts.
Stage 1- Prologue:
I drove up the night before the race and checked into my spartan room in the University of Alaska Fairbanks dorms. While the rest of the Anchorage crew stayed in much nicer places with kitchens and living rooms, I flapped my way down the hall in flip-flops from my ghetto-tastic hole to the bathroom. I went cheap, and you get what you pay for. At least I brought a travel Tempur-Pedic mattress pad to take the bite out of the bed. I do need some comforts.

The day of the stage they announced a course change. Instead of the steady, uphill time trial originally planned, a more technical course was substituted because of traffic concerns. I jumped on the time trial bike and pre-rode it, and promptly decided I would ride my road bike instead because of a couple key turns. The rest of the racers were 50/50 on that count. It was a very short course (around 7 minutes), with not much aerobar time, a punchy climb, and crit like turns at speed.

I went through the course several times, hitting the turns over and over to pick entry and exit points to avoid cracks and maintain speed. I had my line all laid out, and I was ready to go. If I was going to lose time, it was going to be minimal, and might have been offset by sprint bonuses.

When my time came, I jumped on the pedals and started cranking for all I was worth. I was racing it like a seven minute VO2max interval- all in and committed. I hit the first few turns exactly as planned, smoothly applied power, and was on a respectable pace.

Then it happened.

As I approached a sharp downhill turn next to a construction site, I dove into the turn like I had done in practice several times before. The bike was leaned over and on the line. My rear tire rolled on a small rock, skidded sideways on the road dust, and at over 30 MPH I hit the pavement and started sliding, depositing skin as I went.

Time slowed down to a crawl as I slid. I immediately knew my Tour of Fairbanks GC aspirations were over. I saw the cone that marked a pothole. I hoped I wouldn't snag and arm or leg on the rough edges of the asphalt. I hit the cone and glided over the hole. I saw the curb coming. I though, "this is going to hurt", and it did. My knee and shoulder hit the concrete, adding insult to injury, or injury to injury. Whatever. I got up as quickly as possible, and quickly bent over from the pain. My whole left side was one sharp ache, and I realized not only were my GC aspirations done, but perhaps my whole Tour of Fairbanks. The skin suit hid a lot of the damage (and likely prevented a bunch as well), but the blood seeping from my knee and through the fabric indicated the problem spots.

I got back on the bike. I straightened my handlebars. I popped the tubular back on the rim. I rode 20 feet. I adjusted my brake pads. I rode slowly, cradling my left arm and generally trying to keep moving. I hurt, but I was at least going to finish this stage. Spectators recoiled in horror. I waved off several offers of medical assistance. I crossed the line.

A seven minute course, and I took well over 14 minutes to complete it. Not what I was hoping for when I started.

As soon as I could, I cleaned out the entire Fairbanks regional stock of Tegaderm. I bought all sorts of wraps, bandages, and antiseptic ointments. It wasn't my first rodeo.

Then I went back to the ghetto, flapped down to the showers, and cried as I scrubbed out all of the dirt and gravel. The white shower floor looked like a slasher movie set as the blood circled down the drain. To double down on the pain, I sprayed it down with antiseptic spray. Then I wrapped myself like a mummy and popped a few Aleve.

Four minutes. That's how long I was in contention. I went to bed not knowing if I would start the next day. Sleep was not easy.


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