I broke my scapula and two ribs hitting the asphalt around 40 mph on a tight and technical downhill corner while attending a training camp in Tucson, AZ.
The week was supposed to be about getting back to the joy of riding my bike. Winter back East has sucked. Prolonged periods of below freezing day time temperatures, snow, ice, and gusting winds have made training outdoors difficult to say the least. Most of my training is based on shorter and more intense workouts but I also need endurance for a 3.5 hour race. Therefore 5 hour endurance rides were on the books. You are psychotic if you can get this done on a turbo or rollers. I survived a 3 hour session once. I feel that I endured the worst of winter's weather and I was able on stay on target with my training. So my week at the Cycling House in Arizona was going to be one where I could put in some miles and climbing without a specific plan and do it all with a big smile on my face.
Saguaro East National Park is a perfect playground for a bunch of "Jersey Boyz" to race their bikes around. 8 miles of twists and turns, ups and downs, which is mostly one-way and where bikes rule the road for a change. For the "Jersey Boyz", the name bestowed upon our loud and sometimes fowl mouthed crew but with the legs and the lungs to back up all the banter, the 8 mile loop was our first chance to have a little fun against one another. What cyclist doesn't like a little friendly competition? We all do and it's one of the reasons why we ride and race our bikes. Over a couple of laps we splintered and regrouped. We each took turns stepping on the gas, passing, dropping, and getting out front which is like making little statements that say "yea, I'm still here, that all you got?" Two laps down, one more to go, 3 of us dive into the first hill and then it happened.
Down the steep section, I get on the brakes to setup my speed for entry into the tight right-hander. Third time through I knew the routine. This time though I was to the outside of the turn and probably carrying a little more speed than before. I was just hitting the apex and leaned over and looking through to the exit and that's when the next image in my head wasn't the road up ahead but instead was blackness and the sensation of grinding face and body on the asphalt. This is what repeats over and over again in my head. It's not a nightmare because there isnt anything I could've done to change it. I don't question what I did or how I did it. I had no opportunity to react or panic or do anything other than be at the mercy of Newton's Law of Motion.
They tell me we were going close to 40mph. My bike ended up in some bushes. I ended up with a broken scapula, 2 broken ribs, road rash from my face to my leg all on my right side. My helmet was cracked and the contusion on my head clearly indicates that the helmet certainly saved me from a more severe injury and perhaps even my life. I feel extra fortunate for that. I'm also thankful that I was with such a great group that was there to help me. I really feel that if this happened and I was alone, I would not be in a condition to write this or maybe even be here.
Wear a helmet. I always do. They work. Trust me.