this creation... well... this entry was developed in two sittings
once back from Gettysburg I dropped off Dave... then my gear... then headed over to Sibley
having experienced ER waits of greater length and pain than purgatory I logged onto my laptop immediately after checking in
things at Sibley went faster than expected
so I "hunt and pecked" my way through things in between signatures, x-rays, and analysis
now I am back to close it all up

blogging from the ER
blogging one handed from the ER

race report:michaux

today I ignored all weather reports
today I ignored any and all hesitations and fears about racing with as little riding/training as I have been doing

loaded up the interior of the Honda Element with bikes… various levels of cold weather cycling gear and fellow City Bikes/DCMTB racer Dave V.

dave is good company
our lives have multiple similarities…
both married
both fathers of two boys… one baby and one several years
both live in Mt Pleasant
both are friends with my brother

the list goes on

but this is not a list
this is supposed to be a race report

we arrived at the race location to be greeted by a flurry of activity
everyone was beyond excited for the day’s event
as we unloaded the bikes from the interior of my car we started to access the temperature of the day
along with the flurry of activity that surrounded us there was also intermittent falling snow… but nothing more than a little flurry

with the bikes out of the car dave and I made small talk with various riders… some known.. some unknown
all very friendly
former DCMTBer Jason Troxler was there
DCMTB newbie Matt was also there
City Bikers were coming out of the woodwork... Becky another newbie rolled up

everyone exchanged hellos as well as exchanging tips of the gear to wear and what to expect from the terrain….

the discussions continued
tire pressure? rock hard or squishy?
tights or knickers?
more or less top layers?
fenders.. si o no?

this being the first race of the season for most people caused the prerace jitters to be a little higher… maybe turned up to ELEVEN!

registered… dressed… bike seemingly well tunned I left out on warm up spin

so many faces…. so many friends
it is good to see everyone again
talked with some fellow Clydesdales… sized up the competition
fellow Clydesdale and last season’s Michaux Clydesdale champion shared some advice and information that aided in my understanding of what to expect

rolled down the road here I ran into SM100 race promoter Chris Scott
we chatted... I was interested to see that he was on a 26er rather than his 29er
he said preference…. I thought maybe sponsor
as we departed he made mention of my rear tire pressure

it did seem a little soft so I took his advice and went back to my car to pump in a little more air
while adding air to my rear tire I noticed the prerace meeting had begun
it was nearly out of earshot
but I did hear a call for beginners and Clydesdales to meet at the start line
at this I glance up to see people rolling down the road
again there is mention of the beginners and Clydesdales lining up first
in rush I turn back to pumping air into my rear tire/tube
as the call the following groups my Red Bull enhanced excitement grows to near panic
I pull the adaptor from the valve
airs exits as I fumble with the removal

now I have less air in the rear than I had before… it is good… but no rock solid
I make my way down the paved road where people are gathering for the start
upon arrival I realize the clydesdales lined up first as they would be released last
at the start line I made small talk with Deleware Clydesdale Mark Fitzwater
as we spoke I scoped out the competition
more looking for skinny fellas posing as Clydesdales and familiar faces
as time passed the topic of our course distance came to surface
I was agitate to learn that we would be racing the beginner distance

frustrated at the start I brought up the misunderstanding to one of the promoters

we did not see eye to eye
I told him that we could discuss this later
he did not care for my word choice

but having this 5'5" promoter weighing in at 155 would be like me setting the rules for a lesbian Sadie Hawkins dance...

our turn to take the line arrived
with a ten count we were off… the Clydesdales bunched in with the Vet Beginners
in the middle ring I sprinted away from the field curious what the course before me would offer
in the distance down the hill I heard Fitzwater bid me farewell…. “joel… have a good race”
from the paved climb onto a fire road and onto some rocky doubletrack

already I was forced to pass racers from classes released before me
it was tough going….
their pace was not my pace
I wanted to roll, but kept having to slow and stop
it was tough to develop a rhythm

on the bike
off the bike

noodling between some rocks at a slow pace my front wheel halted
my bike and boy pivoted on the axle/axis of the front wheel

I was airborne
all 235 pounds of me landed on my index finger
I somehow managed to witness my index finger stab into the ground
then double back on itself
it was an ugly site
a painfully ugly site
I tried to unjam the knuckle
the banana like curve of my finger was awkward to the eye
so I looked away

close to the start I weighed my options

being bullheaded as I am

I had one option…. RACE!
not much time had passed and I was back in traffic
pedaling along
making passes when I could
trying to find a rhythm
trying to find a way to keep my left hand from causing me more pain
trying to find a balance where I could ride fast and smooth

braking was not easy
shifting the front derailleur was not easy
finding a painfree position was impossible
there were varying levels of pain
but no painfree positions
occasionally I screamed out... it was good release
chatter on the downhills deserved a scream each time

unfamiliar with the course I tried to enjoy the early spring surroundings
most certainly there were trees in bloom… but I did not see them
most certainly there were dynamic vistas of distant rolling hills… but I did not see them
all I saw was the terrain infront of me and the occasional flurry of snow
of course there were other racers and that nasty looking finger that hurt to look at
so I did not look at the finger, the trees, or the views

pain aside….

it was a great course
at some point in the race I found myself behind the leading beginner
who may have been the biggest sandbagger whose dust I ate
the race went its way
there were moments where I questioned my choice to continue
there were moments where I screamed out in pain
there was never a moment where I regretted my choice to race that day
there was never a moment where I regretted my choice to continue to race with a broken finger

on the flats I rode upright and tired to unjam my finger

wishfully thinking that it was dislocated rather than broken
but their was no magical pop that put everything right
as I trailed behind the sandbagging leader I felt purpose
my purpose being my finishing time would act as justification for altering the class to a Sport distance

then I flatted out

just as I had lost the humility of a broken finger I was humbled by mechanical error
it boggled my mind how difficult it was to repair a flat with one and a half hands
it was a slow awkward process
one by on all the races I had passed now passed me
then a few Clydesdales rolled past

I cheered for each rider who passed me

each rider half heartedly offered assistance
eventually the tube was on the rim
the tire was filled with air
then the wheel was back on the bike
with squishy tire pressure front and rear I aimed to finish

my effort to make a statement had evolved into an effort to make it to the finish

the was some nice riding that invigorated me
after some time I managed to catch a few racers
then a few more
in the distance I saw a few riders looking back in a panic
I accelerated to get a closer view
I accelerated to give them closer view

sure enough they were Clydesdales

unlike the other racers who asked my class
these racers knew my class
I rolled past the second Clydesdale who had seconds earlier had been a spec in front of me
was now behind me out of my field of view
I listened for his wheels
I listened for his breath

I focused on the turn marker ahead which caused me to look through the woods
in between the trees I could see the gravel parking lots where the racers had parked
this last turn marked the last 20 yards
which I had recalled from the prerace meeting
the race was over… no battling it out in the final seconds
as those final seconds had passed
I rolled through
they tore the base of my race number for the results board
I scanned the area for paramedic or a medical tent

distracted by the moment
ran into some friends… shared my tale
went to the car… told my tale again and again
showed off my swollen banana like finger
heard some tales of glory and woe from some other racers
was pleased to see people were psyched about the race and their personal performances
then finally took a walk to the Paramedics and their Emergency vehicle
without X-ray they could not confirm it was broken
but… they assured me that it was an injury that need immediate…. not medivac… but immediate medical attention
they taped two fingers and passed me an ice pack
I expressed thanks and gratitude
we agreed that a minor injury like mine is a far more pleasant site than what they have seen and will see
we parted our ways

after more banter with various racers I am told that I won the Clydesdale Class
these words from the racer I passed in the final seconds
we talked and shared agreement in the short Clydesdale course
the misunderstanding of the class

after looking at the board I saw that I took second… and he took third
showed him the board
he felt there was room for dispute
he felt confident that he had a good grasp of the position of the class
who knows how that unfolded?

I did not stay for awards
it is always hard to justify staying late for awards when I have a wife chasing two energetic children…. my energetic children… our energetic children
even without a broken finger I would have had to of left straight out

before I left I spoke to lisa and dean
dean was concerned about my hand
he wanted to see my finger
he wanted to know "why?"
as I went into my story I heard him hang up the phone

sure enough
the x-ray and the words of the doctor confirmed that my index finger was/is broken

later that night Dean kissed my cast covered wrist…. and it did feel better afterwards


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