This really was unlucky 13 — my 13th Leadville 100 — for me. I can no longer say I’ve never DNF’d out of a race.
And right now, I have to admit I’m taking turns pitying myself and considering the fact that I’m lucky to be alive, much less only mildly injured.
Here’s what happened.
I started the race feeling fine — healthy, excited, ready to race.
And then the climbs started and I felt really fantastic. I passed people by the dozens, quickly and without special effort. I got to the top of the first big climb — St. Kevins — in what felt like very good time.
Feeling fast and invincible, I started the 4-mile paved downhill. Like most of the people around me, I was going what felt like 30-35mph.
I was flying, and feeling great.
And then I was suddenly at the outside edge of the apex of a right-sweeping bend. On a wet road. at top speed.
And I was pointed off the embankment.
I grabbed two handsful of brake, but it didn’t do me much — if any — good. I flew off the embankment, and had one very clear thought as I launched into the air:
“This is how I die.”
The next moments were chaos and pain. Crashing, tumbling, and sliding. And then to a stop.
Here is the view from the road of what I crashed down. Rocky is standing approximately where my bike and I came to a rest.
That’s about 40 feet.
The reason I have this photo is because my sister Kellene and Bro-in-Law Rocky went back later to see if they could find my new Oakley Jawbones. Amazingly, they did:
Considering Rocky and Kellene had nothing to locate my glasses by but my addle-brained description of where I went down and a skid mark going off the road, I’m incredibly impressed (and grateful) they found those glasses.
But now, back to my tale of misery.
Lying in the Rain
I came to a stop on my back, with the most immediately intense pain coming from my right hip — though my right knee won the prize for bloodiest injury. I was both amazed to be conscious, and certain that I had better stay still, since I must have broken most everything.
I started yelling, not wanting to be left down there alone, because I didn’t think I could get back up to the road on my own.
Kevin, a guy in a Racers Cycle Service jersey, immediately stopped, yelled at me to not move, and worked his way down to me.
Over the next twenty minutes, Kevin wrestled my bike back to the road, gave me his vest to help me stop shaking so violently, and yell at other racers to go get a medic for me.
Meanwhile, it started to rain. Good and hard.
After a while, the pain in my hip receded enough that I thought I could try sitting up. That worked out OK, so I went ahead and tried to stand up.
at That didn’t work out so well. Immediately dizzy, I sat back down.
Five minutes later, I tried it again. This time, it worked. I was able to put my weight on my right leg. That was a huge relief — maybe I wasn’t as badly busted as I originally thought. I went ahead and climbed back to the road.
Finally, I was able to persuade Kevin to continue on and do his race — hopefully, even with the half hour (Or more? Hard to say, since I had no watch with me) he had spent with me he was still able to have a good race.
And then I stood in the rain for twenty minutes or so, soaked, freezing and shivering. And inspecting myself to see where else I was hurting besides my hip and knee. Here is the list I came up with:
- My hands were cut and bleeding in multiple places
- My left arm hurt
- My lip was cut
- My neck hurt
- The small of my back hurt. A lot.
The Medical Tent
John, a race volunteer, came and picked me up in his truck, and loaned me his down jacket. I have never been so grateful for warmth, ever. He then gave me a ride back, telling me that once we got into cell phone range, I should call my crew.
But I don’t have anyone’s number memorized. Just my home phone. So I called home, told my sister Lori to give me Kellene’s number, and then got ahold of Kellene and told her I was enroute to the medical tent.
And then, at the medical tent, I surprised everyone. They had not expected customers so early. They got me a cot together, sat me down, and poked and prodded me. No guarantees, I was told, but it seems like I didn’t have any breaks. And I didn’t need stitches.
Yes, somehow I did a high speed crash down an embankment loaded with boulders and trees, and walked away.
So, really, I shouldn’t complain. I should be glad to be OK. And I am.
But look at my face (and hand) as I started making my way back to the hotel.
That’s the face of a guy who had a pretty bad day.