I’ve been pretty banged up this season. It started in January at Cyclocross Nationals and kind of just keeps on coming. I had a naïve read on the recovery time of the shoulder surgery, so I’m to blame for that. But, all these stupid little falls I’ve had training, on and off-road, were just plain bad luck.
I’ve raced a lot hurt over the years. It all started back when I was an intermediate, (junior 13-14). I broke my collarbone in Superweek and raced the Nationals Road Championships a little over a week later. That probably wasn’t the smartest thing in the world to do, but doctoring and medicine was much different back then.
That being said, during that era, racing bicycles hurt was sort of what was to be expected. In Europe, racing was a blue collar sport. Here in the US, once criterium racing became at least 50% of the scheduled racing, if you did the whole year, you fell, fell multiple times a year.
Back when the Nabisco series was happening, mainly my Schwinn years, we it was two criteriums at weekend, at least, for months. If there wasn’t a guy on our team with a broken collarbone, it was unusual.
I don’t quite understand now when these Pro guys fall, they lay on the ground for so long and don’t instantly get up and get moving. It seems like it is made for TV or something. They obviously do know that there are a million cars backed up and that they can virtually motor pace back on. That usually works, but every once in a while, like when Vino fell at the Tour a few years back, it doesn’t work out great. These guys should just get moving and then figure out how badly they’re beat up.
I was off the front in the Tour of Texas once, descending a blind corner and ran into the Campagnolo motorcycle that was parked in the middle of the road doing a wheel chance for Doug Smith, a future team mate. I hit the ground hard, slid into the guard rail and smashed my front wheel. The field was coming and the guy driving the motorcycle realized that he was “parked in a bad” space and took off. So, I was left standing there with a non-working bike. The field went by and I got a front wheel from a follow car and instantly started chasing. I knew I was pretty hurt, but also knew that if I didn’t get going quickly, I was going to be riding all day by myself. It didn’t matter, when I got to the next climb. I couldn’t use my left arm. I’d broken my wrist pretty badly and it was valueless. I then stopped.
Thurlow Rogers raced nearly the whole Coor’s Classic one year with broken ribs. That is pretty amazing. Mine have been broken for nearly 3 weeks now and every Monday after racing only one criterium each weekend, I can hardly move.
Anyway, what got me thinking about this was reading about Taylor Phinney and Philippe Gilbert crashing in the Eneco Tour and both stopping. They both hit there left knees and Taylor’s was bad enough that he couldn’t remount his bike. I honestly have no idea how badly either of them were hurt. Knee injuries are worrisome. And I do realize that they both have bigger fish to fry that the Eneco Tour. But if this would have been the Tour de France, I assume that both of them would have continued.
It seems like the only time the Pros keep riding while injured is in the Tour. The rest of the season doesn’t seem to matter. There is always another race and there are always other riders that can replace them.
I hated/hate quiting races. Getting hurt during stage racing is not usual. Riding through the injuries sometimes is actually the best thing you could do. It keeps you from stiffening up and after a few days it sort of becomes a non issue. I wish Pro riders would put more emphasis on the race they are currently doing and treat the races with more respect. Obviously no race is getting the respect the Tour receives, but when they are competing, they owe it to the fans and their team mates to compete fully. Part of that is falling down and getting back up.