It is part and parcel of racing — crashing — and in some you get away with losing a little bark (skin), in others, bones break and its time to rethink the season goals.
Oliver lurking near the back… on the blue bike….
I remember my coach Doug Holland in Australia telling me once you’re not a bike rider until you have crashed ten times. Within a year or three, I was a bike rider. I then lost count of my own crashes many many years ago but for Oliver Wright, his first one came at Darley Moor last weekend …
Oliver writes … The season is now well and truly under way with most people getting into the swing of racing. The warmer weather makes us all feel better and we start to dream of the epic rides and results in the months ahead. For me those rides and results might be just a bit further in the distance than I had at first imagined. I’m already sitting out injured, wondering what might have been.
It all started well with my first race at Tameside where I got round the race with what was left of the bunch. I was surprised to feel relatively comfortable although was soon kicking myself for missing out on the points, which would have come with a good placing. I’d made life difficult for myself, getting stuck near the back of the bunch and needed to be a bit more focused and get stuck in a bit more.
Last weekend I had my chance to make amends, lining up with around 80 other starters at Darley Moor. This time I was determined to put in a good ride studying the course carefully whilst warming up. This wasn’t easy as there was pretty thick fog for the 3/4 race. (I hadn’t realized just how thick until I saw some of the photos, which make the conditions look fairly extreme.) After a decent ride round, I was confident, well wrapped up and feeling strong. It’s quite a fast circuit with a good surface and I was really up for it. I made sure that I had a good position on the front row at the start and chatted to a rider from Weaver Valley. Before too long we were given a brief pre race talk by the commisaire and then were on our way.
I was determined to stay near the front and out of trouble, using the first lap to settle in. Quickly we were into the routine, sprinting up to around 30mph for the straights, slow gently for the corners, hold your line and then brace yourself for the sprint again. There was a natural rhythm to it with everything feeling good. I was well positioned and could see the race unfolding without taking too much of the wind.
My main concern had been whether I’d be able to move around within the bunch, but this felt OK. I concentrated on moving myself forwards, sometimes being assertive and moving myself forwards, other times spotting the rider who would give me a free ride to the front. At one point, a small group of us made our way off the front. The urgency of working well together was short lived however and after allowing myself to drift towards the back of the bunch to recover, I was reminded why it was so important to be near the front. At the back the bike handling was not as sharp, the gaps were bigger and the accelerations out of each corner were definitely harder and more urgent. Having lingered with some of the riders I’d not seen all race, I was off again, moving my way smoothly through the fast moving bunch.
It was about this time that I spotted Larry from VeloUK who was taking photos on the long sweeping bend at the beginning of the circuit. This provided me with another reason to do well and I concentrated on making sure I held a good position, smiling each time I entered the corner. If anything the fog was getting worse and a bunch sprint seemed almost inevitable.
It was at this point that disaster struck. I was moving up on the sheltered side of the bunch. The wheel I was following suddenly jerked as the rider hit his brakes. I was lifted in the air and landed hard on my left shoulder. My race was over and as I sat on the verge I began to realize that I had done some damage.
Having been helped off the circuit and driven home by a friend who had also raced, I began my first week of recovery. I’ve broken my shoulder/collar bone in three places. It has been screwed and plated together and I’ve been told to rest totally. I’m looking at around eight weeks off work, with even longer off the bike. I’ve been told that the repair is pretty delicate, so even sitting on the turbo is out of the question. Waiting and planning a comeback is now the order of the day.
Having had the inevitable first crash I guess I’m not really a beginner now!
Related Link: Photos and Results from Darley Moor