Such a simple question.
The simple response is that …
Two words. So many meanings. Often what is being described is a bit of a wobble and some road rash. Maybe approaching a corner with a slightly too much speed or not quite enough skill. A moment’s inattention. A little bit embarrassing. A couple of days discomfort.
This was the other sort of crash.
One that proper hurts!
It had started as so many other race night’s do. Make sure everything at work is done. Eat as well as possible. Bike and kit already packed in the car. Topping up on food ad water as I went.
I arrived at the velodrome early. It was a familiar routine. Set up the rollers, check the bike, sign on and get changed. The usual friendly faces began to appear. Nods of recognition as I warmed up on the rollers. Everything felt good. I’d set new power bests at the weekend’s race and was keen to see how I felt on the track.
I clipped in, holding the glass wall and pushed off. I was quickly up on the track, slotting easily into the pace line on the blue. We moved smoothly on the track, circling quickly as we built up speed. It was warm and I could feel the sweat starting to build up. Not wanting to over do it on the warm up, I drifted off the back of the line and returned to my chair. A quick drink and I was ready to race.
I was feeling good. Moving on the track was easy. I could see there were a few strong riders in our group, but many were struggling to hold the pace. I dropped into the line, forming a powerful group with the strongest riders. We were lapping quickly. My computer would later tell me we were lapping at up to 34mph with a cadence of around 115rpm. It felt smooth. Four of us were moving really well. Riders were being dropped and eventually it looked like we were going to lap the field.
As we came up to the slower riders, we moved slightly up the track, in order to pass them safely. I was second wheel, tucked comfortably in. It was then, with horror, that we saw one of the riders move without looking. He swung sharply up the track right into our path. We were moving so much faster. There was no way we could avoid him.
Tim who was in front of me hit him pretty much square on. At that speed he almost flattened him, before jumping up to make his feelings known.
I had enough time to begin to turn up the track slightly with the vain hope of avoiding the worst of it. All that meant was that my front wheel was clipped by the two fallen riders. I was catapulted over the top of them and landed on my back. Howling in an effort to get air into my winded lungs.
The two riders behind me went even higher up the track, before slithering down. Burning themselves badly on the way down.
My whole world became a battle to get air in…
Control the noise…
Control the pain…
Shuffle to safety…
Support my back and rest.
My race was over.
My season was over.
My long road to recovery was only just beginning.