When we signed up for Single Speed USA (SSUSA) early in 2013, I turned to Jay and told him I was gonna win it. Not only that... I was gonna win it and get a sweet tattoo to commemorate it. Jay, winner of Single Speed Worlds in 2000, has the victor's tattoo. But in SSUSA, the traveling belt is the trophy.. but who says I couldn't get a tattoo anyway?
Fast forward to summer 2013... I won the belt! (race recap) I got to emboss my name into it below the previous champions and take it home for a year on top. Now, what's the tattoo gonna be? Eleven months later, I gave my favorite tattoo artist Charlie Forbes at Leviticus Tattoo all my inspirations and 1/2 a dozen photos of the belt... what came to be was PERFECT!
What's funny about having a long-time friend as your tattoo artist is the mid-tattoo mini-pranks...
"What if we just stopped now and you can be the 'PEE' USA Champ?"
Nah, keep going!
Now that it's all healed up, it looks so much better than I ever imagined! My own little homage to an amazing adventure, keeping that belt with me always <3 p="">3>
Since it's healed, why not jump into the South Side Criterium? Sunday was a hot and humid day, perfect for sweating the day away on the bike. This year, they decided to give call-ups to riders in the elite races, and I was honored to get an awesome call-up to the line. Fifteen strong women towed the line and we redlined immediately off the start when Kelly went for it at the gun.
The first three laps or so we were strung out single-file trying to chase the new U23 National Champ down, careening through the streets of Minneapolis at blazing speeds. The race came back together, but the pace remained high as other riders attempted to break away and the field rallied to close the gap.
Some lap past the halfway point, the game changed for me.
Luckily, my husband has been an amazing coach over the years and I am strong and confident in the corners. I had been watching the pack during the race to know who's wheel to stay off of or who slowed in the turns to avoid getting gapped off during the group's surges. We came out of Turn 2 (base of the hill) and prepped for Turn 3. The rider in front of me began to slow as we entered Turn 3 so I took the wider right line to avoid braking. As we exited the turn, the rider I was trying to avoid moved quickly into my lane. I tried to swerve right to avoid her rear wheel, but she veered to fast and the spokes of my front wheel began to ting off her rear derailleur.
I thought I could pull out of it as it unfolded in slow motion...
But I was unable to move to the right fast enough. My spokes wrapped around the rear derailleur and my front wheel stopped on a dime. With hands firmly gripping the drops, I flipped over the bars.
From the bruises and road rash on my body to what I can remember, I first hit the pavement with my left lever, knee and hip with enough force to pop out of my pedals. I flipped onto my right and continued to slide down the road away from my bike. On my right, butt cheek and shoulder, I slid in slow motion.. I remember staring down at my shoulder and the road thinking "Stop sliding. Stop sliding".
I came to a stop and plopped my head on the ground. Laying there in the fetal position in the middle of the road, part of me really didn't understand what just happened. Linsay stopped her race and came to make sure I was okay. A kind corner marshall helped me hobble to the side of the road as pain in my left knee was the first that came to my attention. The sat me down as I began to assess the situation.
First thing I checked was my tattoo. There was no damage to my skinsuit.. touching it didn't hurt. WHEW! Now the collar bones.. check!
The knees were scuffed and beginning to bleed. Both forearms were missing a layer or so of skin. I could feel the drips running down my arms but I was confused each time I looked not to see any major blood. It wasn't til later that I realized that I was dripping with sweat!
I stood when I saw Jay come running and inquired about my bike. Not broken, but the bars had turned 90 degrees, my saddle was sideways, the front wheel didn't turn. As I inspected the amount of ass-cheek I was missing on the right, Jay did his magic and made my bike work again. He urged me to ride out the rest of the lap to tell my Dad and Step-Mom that I was okay, then head to the medical tent.
I got back on the bike and waved my thanks to all the fans and volunteers to clapped in encouragement as I gingerly made my way around the course. As I waved to my family, Jay returned and shouted out "Use your free lap!". Without a second thought, I pedaled right passed the med tent over to the official and asked it I could finish the race. They gave me my first ever free lap and inserted me back into the race between the breakaway group and the rest of the field. I had three or more turns to get back up to speed and shake off the jitters before the group rode up to me and I jumped back into the pack.
The primes were over and there were no major efforts to bring back the breakaway, so I happily stayed in the pack and got back into my comfort zone. My bike didn't like shifting, so I fought off the anxiety of listening to my gears skipping as we finished the last few laps. As we geared up for the sprint finish, my bike refused to get into a harder gear so I did everything I could to finish strong. I ended up 11th overall, 3rd in the Cat 3's. Wha?!
The adrenaline from the crash kept me riding the waves for a good hour. The worst of the injuries is probably my missing bum, followed by both forearms, both knees, a swollen and scraped ankle, and bruised hips. The bike didn't break, but I damaged both shift levers, my right hood & bar tape, and my rear derailleur. The skinsuit by Podiumwear didn't tear a bit.. maybe thanks to the fact that I was sweatin' buckets.. I just slid across the pavement like a high-speed slug. Most importantly, during that slow-mo skid, I kept the tattoo off the pavement!
I always knew there was a chance of crashing in a crit, but I'd avoided it for all 6 years of my cycling career. The biggest thing for me, though, was finishing. Not only was it important for me to get back in the race and get over any fears that could have built up, but to show myself that I could physically do it! And maybe a little of the "Half the Road" documentary stuck with me... it felt good to be a positive role-model for every spectator out there that could see that women can do it, we can fall down, and we can persevere.
Now, I guess I'll just take a couple days off to heal before getting on the training wagon for SSUSA 2014! It's been awesome being Queen Bee for a year, but it doesn't mean I have to give it up without a fight. Come on butt, heal up!!!
Lots of love from Neosporin-Tegaderm-land,