How to Crash and Finish Strong: Matt Irwin and The Road Warrior 50

While the The Bike Rack women represented in the Cat 4 race at the Road Warrior 50, the TBR men pulled through in a big way in their categories as well.  Andy Shepard  (6th), Walter Sanchez, Brandon Cogswell, held it down for cat 5 and Chris Anderson and Ahmed Hefuna did awesome in the cat 4 race. Even Matt Irwin was able to place well after a gnarly crash. He writes about it below.

I’ll focus my report on the pre-crash half of the race.  The men’s fives seemed reeeaaaaally twitchy.  Lots of unattached riders in our field, implying less experience with group riding.  As a result, there was quite a bit of contact, lots of aggressive passing on the right, plenty of half-wheeling, some cadence-breaking standing on the climbs that accordioned the pack, and many half-assed attempts at breakaways.  Consequently, I tried to get up toward the front early and stayed consistently in the fifth or sixth slot, right where I like to be: out of the wind but well positioned to avoid slop and chase any breaks that look like they’ll stick.  The pack got stretched but never split that I saw.  And as the women have written, there were no obvious spots try to get away, but I probably would have spun fast up a hill or two on the second lap (huzzah for Garrett County gearing!) to try to shake a few folks off the back.

Turns out I never made it to that second lap.  On one of the gently sweeping downhill turns toward the end of the course, some guy who looked more like a basketball center than a cyclist brushed up against me while trying to pass between me and another rider.  When I pulled a Wayne and politely but firmly told him to back off, the guy briefly swung away from me but, either intentionally or because he misjudged the turn, wrecking-balled right back into my handlebars.  I lost my balance, started to go down, and quickly steered out of the middle of the pack to avoid taking down other riders.  I executed a nice two-point impact (hand and ass) and slid a few meters across the asphalt and into the grass.  Stefan, Wayne’s mustachioed motor ref counterpart, stopped to make sure I was okay and wanted to continue, which tempered my shock and anger and got me focused on getting my bike rideable (the bars and shifters were wrenched around, and both brake calipers were screwed up) and getting back on the course.

I TTed the rest of the first lap and half of the second before catching a friendly Artemis rider.  Never saw the back of the pack again, but I managed to pass a couple more people and ended up 38 out of 42 finishers.  I decided to sprint to the line, too, to impress my TBR teammates who’d already finished and whose cheering helped drag my (literally) bloody ass up the final hill.

Anyway, good to have gotten my first crash out of the way.  Let’s not do that again anytime soon.