My collarbone is in
So technically, it wasn’t 12 hours. It was more like 3.
A brief recap of the day
I showed up early just like I always do only to be met with a 100% increase in the parking fee at Vail Lake. This place is really exploited these 12 Hour races. Why, I remember when there was no parking fee. However, the events that Jason puts on are so extraordinary that you can overlook the absurd parking fees (I say absurd because the fees we don’t seem to go into any resort improvements).
After finding a parking space, I set up my pit and chat with fellow racers. It is rainy very lightly, it is more like a mist. My friend, Jim, shows up and I give him some quick pit instructions. I then realize I am running late and head to the start line. I line up in the front with my competition.
Almost immediately, the race is off.I sit on the back of the lead group, through a very short parade lap. It seems like we are almost immediately onto the dirt. After a short climb, we start the first descent. Then, the unthinkable happens. I crash.
It was one of those stupid mistakes you make once every 500 years. My first significant crash ever. I went over the bars and slammed onto my left side. Luckily, I was able to get off the trail without getting run over. I did realize, however, that the racers behind me did not even pretend to slow down to avoid hitting me. It wasn’t until the first 1/4 of the field went by that people started asking if I was OK.
Anyways, my chain got wrapped around my pedal, I was a bit confused, but managed to get it straightened out. Then, I waiting for a break in the riders and managed to get back on my bike. I immediately noticed my bars were bent, pretty badly. I also noticed my helmet felt weird and my shoulder hurt, pretty badly. I hesitantly felt my collar bone, but it didn’t feel abnormal.
I finished the lap and saw the medic. He checked my range of motion and felt my clavicle and deemed it OK to ride. I checked out my helmet and noticed it was cracked, so I got one from the Scott/The Bike Shop tent. I also dropped off my bike there while Jim drove to The Bike Shop to get my new bars. Luckily, I had a spare bike this year.
I then hoped on my spare bike and I rode a lap. I couldn’t stand and pull on the bars very hard, nor could I descend. I eventually got around the course and when I rolled through the pits, I noticed my bike was still gone, so I continued to roll through onto lap 3. I was still in pain and descending slow and towards the end of the lap, when entering the BMX track section, I must have felt something pop. I don’t really remember what happened, but I decided I couldn’t make it up a hill, got off, and walked my bike. I again, very hesitantly, reached up and felt my collarbone. This time I wasn’t so lucky. I felt a large bump on it and realized it was probably broken.
I finished the lap by walking the BMX section. From there the course followed the road back to the start finish, so I got on and coasted, very slowly around to the finish. While coasting down the road, I saw Danny Munoz, but no Tinker Juarez. I saw Danny after I passed the finish and told the timer keepers I was out and asked him how Tinker was. As it turns out, Tinker crashed on lap 2 and left the race. So, I managed to not get last after all!
Should I have stopped after my fall? Maybe, but I would have doubted how long I could have ridden. I may also have not known I hurt my collarbone and gone another week with pain before it finally snapped. There are millions of possibilities of what could have happened had I done one thing different. I have thought of almost all of those different scenarios. Maybe I could have saved my crash. Maybe if I would have immediately stopped, I could have healed in a week or 2.
There is no way of knowing what would have happened had I made a different decision. So, I just have to try and be content with the choices that I made. I think I am. After I realized I was done, I was very distraught. Not because I couldn’t finish, or because I crashed, but because I felt like all the training, time, preparation, and planning that went into attending that race, seemed like a waste. All of the sacrifices that I made, were for nothing. It is a horrible feeling.
So now, a week after the race, I am not as depressed as I was the few days following the race. I am hoping to be back on the bike by April so that I can try and make it to the Vision Quest starting line. I know what you are thinking, but trust me. I WILL NOT PUSH MYSELF HARDER THAN WHAT I KNOW I CAN HANDLE. Having a broken clavicle sucks and I do NOT want to experience this again. So this year, I am going to focus on fitness. I can climb as fast as I can and just take it easy on the descending. This way, next year, when I feel 100%, I can pair my new found fitness with my unique descending abilities and hopefully give some of the local pros a fair fight.