Reverse of the Curse
I thought of that title all by myself.
I thought those words at the Baltimore Bike Jam last Saturday when I heard that eery sound of metal scraping on asphalt and the screeching of brakes that indicated there was a huge pile up crash right behind me in the race. Behind me. I felt like some crazy witch who somehow just reflected my Memorial Day curse to everyone around me. Not me this time. Not this year. But still all around me.
Last year I wrote about the curse of Memorial weekend that has been mine for the last five years in a row, somehow getting tangled up in some kind of accident (a couple pretty serious ones) year after year after year at this time. So coming into this historically cursed weekend with three races back to back to back made me go into them with my first priority being just to stay upright. That meant that I came into each race ready to fight like a mobster (is that even a saying?) to stay at the front of the peloton, even when it was obvious during each race that it would end in a field sprint. It was very surreal to hear that same dreadful noise of crashing eight times this weekend - all around me - but not me. Like the curse was following me around but I was wrapped safely in a bubble. At the Tour of Somerville a Colavita girl was riding right beside me when she clipped her pedal on the asphalt as we were carving through a corner - I clenched my fist in a cheer for her as I saw her correct the bike from sliding out - but then saw her back wheel skip again and send her into the curb and flying out the opposite direction from me. Ouch. Hope she was okay (along with those who must have piled up behind her). I pedaled away unscathed but slightly mortified at how closely we flirt with these disasters. I just kept thinking - NOT ME THIS TIME! NOT ME! - and pedaled closer up to the front where I would be statistically less likely to get caught up in such a wreck. But there was a lot of damage this weekend. Besides the scores of people who walked away with road rash and bruises, Anna Milkowski (Advil/Chapstick) broke her leg and my team mate Jenette hurt her bad back at Bike Jam, Heidi Goldberg (Kenda) broke her wrist at the RFK Crit, and my teammate Jen's s.o. Bill (Squadra Coppi) tore his rotator cuff in a pile up at the Tour of Somerville. That's a lot of carnage for one weekend. I'm wishing them all a speedy recovery! It hit so close to home that I keep thinking I should send them all get well cards and flowers. But I haven't yet. It's easier to think nice things than to go out and do them. Plus, Anna M. probably has no idea who I am so that would be weird.
Besides the Memorial Day curse, I also get a little antsy about injuries every time I start coming into good form in late spring. Because I've yet to race a full season without it getting chopped short from an injury. Right when the season starts heating up and I feel like I'm the strongest I've ever been, I get injured. The first XC mtn bike race I ever entered was in August, six years ago. I haven't raced in July or August in the six years since because I've always been injured.
So that makes me hope that this weekend was a sign of the summer to come - that I will finally have a year without accidents or injuries, so that I can for once enjoy all the work I've put into getting to this point. Although I love riding my bike and working out, so it's not like it's just hard work for the purpose of results. That happening is just gravy. Admittedly, it was very nice to pull out a win with HPC p/b Altarum (check it out for team results) at the RFK Crit and win the coolest prime I've ever seen given away at a race (a trip to Guatamala for the Gran Premio! Bega with City Bikes puts on an awesome race for the women, making the women's pro race the feature event of the day and top prize dollars), but the surreal part that left me on cloud nine was getting to meet Susan Haywood because of it. I was very surprised to see such a mountain biking legend at this road race and had to double take when I realized it was her. I know I probably sound like a big dork for writing this...but I'm sure everyone can relate at some level. To hear someone ride up to me after winning a sprint for a prime and say "hey, nice sprint", then look over, see the Trek/VW jersey, and realize it was coming from the mouth of one of the top women I have idolized since I got into this whole biking thing years ago still has me buzzing days later. She was even nice enough to talk with me during the post race lap. It's cool when you get to meet someone you look up to like that and find out that they are as nice and cool as you hoped they would be. It wasn't like my sprint was that amazing. She was just being nice. She's not only a star, but a classy one at that. Guess a few of my team mates and team director Susan Hefler are friends with her and it looks like we might get her to ride for our team at the Tour of Fitchburg. That has me more stoked than ever!
Anna always does a good job at team reports...she already did it so I won't repeat.
Here is a clip of the finish line sprint at the tour of Somerville. Our camera isn't the best, and some guy's head is in the way, but oh well. This is one of the most fun races - really, really fast from the gun, and the city turns it into this big festival so there are a lot of spectators cheering and plenty of entertainment/food/vendors to make it an entertaining event.
In this finish, I am the stupid one who jumped waaaaaaaaaay way way too early out of the draft and rode way out to the side of the leadout train. Teammate Jenette then followed me out to the side to try to save me and give me a draft, so we are the two riders off to the outside. Sorry for being overly eager and screwing up our sprint Jenette. I was worried about getting boxed in, and instead just messed it up another way. Timing a sprint is different at every race and I have a hard time with that. As soon as I jumped out of the train I accelerated past a few people and got all excited - then I felt the wind hit me like a brick, saw the finish line banner still as a tiny line way in the distance and was like "shoot...I take it back...let me back in! Let me back!" It was nice of Jenette to try to rescue me and she still had a good result, but she could have done even better if I hadn't gotten so antsy. Three of us from HPC still placed in the $$$, so still not a bad day.
Oh, one last thing about the To ur of Somerville that I thought was kind of funny. Where Jen and I parked on a side street and set up our trainers to warm up and cool down, we kept hearing all these knocks on the windows coming from this huge building right next to us. Get out of the car, hear knocking on the windows. Change clothes in the car (covered up important parts but still thought I was alone), come out and hear more knocking on the windows. Warm up with Jen and she notices the knocking on the windows. Look up and see a white sheet of paper in one of the top windows...it was moving around and I thought it had writing on it like someone was trying to write something to me...but I figured that was crazy and concluded it was actually just a paper towel and someone just cleaning the windows. But still, there was a lot of knocking from a lot of windows, and that piece of paper waving around. Strange.
After the race, Rob informed me that we were parked right next to the penitentiary!
Oh, Rob took a video of the finish at RFK also. It's pretty choppy footage of the finish because he got all excited and started jumping.
Reverse of the Curse