Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Kickstart!

I spent the last week of 2013 and the beginning of 2014 recovering from a spectacular crash on Christmas eve where I clipped a tree branch with my handle bar at over 21mph and smacked the ground hard.
I hit the branch on the left and ended up just past the trees to the right.

It left me with 15 stitches above the eye and a left knee about three times its normal size.  I was able to lightly ride out the swelling but it still didn't feel right and would easily swell back up.  An MRI revealed a severe bone bruise on my femur at the knee, as well as a bruised patella, tibia, and strained IT band and popliteal tendons.  Thankfully the MRI confirmed there was no ligament damage and I could resume riding without further damage.  All I'd have to do was not fall on it!
So why not race?!  The TBF MTB Kickstart is always a good opener for the year and a good shock to the system.  Conditions were a bit odd, July dry dirt with January cold.  I'd have to be careful in the slick corners and not take any risks, but I was looking forward to mixing it up as best I could.  I had no expectations after some very inconsistent riding over the past month. I donned my CA State Champ jersey (with my regular jersey underneath... it was 32 degrees!), because it's not every year you get to wear one of those, and toed the line with the usual local speedsters and some seriously fast high school racers who've been training hard for their fast approaching season.

We set off at a decent pace for the start loop and see-sawed a bit until I settled into the 3rd spot on the first climb.  I was enjoying watching the two characters in front of me... Ron Shevock leading but nearly sliding out in every corner due to a very worn out back tire and Tofor Lewis taking some skillful "fun" lines through the singletrack.  I could tell that 16 year old Tofor had some spunk and would likely be the one to beat.  Half way through the first lap I passed for the lead and Tofor pulled in behind.
I was racing my Tallboy not just because it's a fast bike for this course but because it would put less strain on my knee vs. the Highball.  Tofor was strong on the climbs, so I set out to push the pace where the Tallboy excelled and dial it back where I didn't feel as strong.  I stayed out front with three chasers close all the way through the second lap as we battled through lapped traffic.
And on the first climb of the last lap, Tofor attacked for the lead and never looked back.  I couldn't match his acceleration and after getting stuck behind a lapped rider for a bit, I couldn't see him by the top.  My race would be for 2nd with Andrew Taylor.  I stretched out a small gap through the corners but he was able to reel me back in at the last corner with enough left to take me by a wheel in a sprint finish.  I've never been a good sprinter, but apparently I'm a really good lead-out man!
It was a great race out on the trails and I'm really happy that 1) I'm able to do it at all, and 2) I performed as well as I did!  Congrats to the young racers out there working hard... looks like I'll be hitting them up to tag along on training rides to push my fitness!


  1. Feel free to ride with the Cycling Dev kids anytime. Mark and Jon are having to do some seriously hard work to keep up with the "A" group and would love to have another fast guy to push them.

  2. Great blog post! Any idea where I can find photos from the event?

    1. There are a bunch on the TBF Facebook page but that's all I've seen.