One minute I was gliding along near the front of the pack on the last lap of the race, trying to get into a good position for the sprint through the final few corners, when all of a sudden I was bouncing off the pavement while other riders were piling on top of me and my bike. I’m going to blame it on all the guys who came up to the Velo Trocadero Menominee Park Criterium from Illinois even though it was actually a guy from Milwaukee who was responsible for me going down.
The Masters 4/5 race at Menominee Park was my second race of the day, and after surviving a hairy Cat 5 race earlier that morning, it seemed sedate in comparison to the sketchy riding in the Cat 5 (go figure). It was like half the people had never been on a group ride before, with all the errant line changes, surging and brake checking. The twisty 1.6-mile layout of the course combined with a fairly stiff wind didn’t help things either, and I was just as happy to stay upright in the race as I was with an eighth place finish out of 33 starters. Stayed in the pack and out of the wind. Check. Top ten finish. Check. Kept it rubber side down. Check. Mission accomplished. Maybe I could have gone home happy, but I lined up for the Masters 4/5 about an hour later because it was only 10 bucks extra.
The 44 riders in the Masters pack stayed together for the first five laps before Team Extreme’s Jim Mauck took off on a solo breakaway with three laps to go. A couple of teams on the front let him go, and we never saw him again. When the bell rang for the last lap I was pretty sure he was still up front because he never came back to the field and I’ve ridden with Jim enough to know how strong he is. Kudos to him for a bold move that paid off with the victory. The rest of my story is not as sweet.
About halfway through the last lap on a short straightaway headed into the wind, riders started coming through from the back on the left and right sides of the roads. I was in the middle near the left side about 10-15 riders back when two guys came through on the edge of the road to my left. As the first one started to clear me, he moved over to the right too soon and I could see his rear wheel drifting into my front. It appeared to be happening in slow motion but when the contact came, the reaction was anything but slow. I went down like Dave Stoller in Breaking Away when the Cinzano guy jams a pump in his spokes. I felt the bang when my head and hip hit the deck, but all I remember after that was sliding a bit and then seeing two other guys sprawled out on the pavement in front of me. We all got back up quickly and they were able to continue riding, but my front wheel was jacked up, so I hitched a ride back with the sag truck.
The damage assessment revealed a torn jersey and vest, road rash on my elbow and knee, a bent front skewer, out of true front wheel, dings in my Cannondale CAAD10s top tube and driveside chainstay, and a trashed Bell helmet. In hindsight, I guess it was a good thing it’s still winter here in Wisconsin, because I was wearing three layers on top and the pavement burned through the top two, so the rash could have been a lot worse. Hopefully the bike is OK, because I’ll be back in action next weekend for the races in Whitnall Park and the Cheesehead Roubaix on Sunday.