It is nice to get out to Interbike and be able to stop by and say thank you to all the industry folks who help out the team. Sean at Easton / Bell, Larry at Mavic, Sheila Moon, Brooke at Gu, Chad at Shimano, Chris with Chris King. All great people working for great companies. With a 9 PM start time (11 PM central) we didn't stick around the show very long before we headed back to the hotel for a little rest.
The start coral was huge, the highest number I saw was 112. Unsurprisingly though, I seemed to be surrounded by pretty familiar company. There isn't much to think about on the line, just make sure you are in the right gear, and then go as fast as you can. With the pop of the gun, we were flying down the straight away. It was just as aggressive as I remembered from last year and I put every ounce of myself into the pedals for the first couple laps.
Three or four laps flew by. I was in a strong group of ten or so guys. Guys who were beating me last year, so I felt pretty good about how things were going. The pace was fast yet manageable, I was riding right were I wanted to be. I grabbed a couple high dollar hand ups in there, I was having a blast, and positioned well, 35ish.
Then disaster, I say it over and over, "I go through the barriers as fast as I can, if I go down, I am going to go down hard" and it came true. Something happened where my front end dropped just slightly and it hit the second to last step and immediately shot my bars up into my face. It caught me right above my right eye. I heard the "crack", saw the flash and went down like a ton of bricks. It hurt, the kind of hit I didn't spring back up from. I got back on the bike, but was in a fog, pedaling just enough to keep the bike moving. Lost close to 15 spots before I realized I needed to be back at race pace by the time a fast approaching group caught me if I was to have any chance at staying in the race.
I rode a lap or two solo before I got sucked in by the chasing group. It was a nice reprise from the solo effort but the group didn't stay together long. With three to go the leaders were closing fast. With two to go, it was going to take a first lap effort to stay in front of the leader, so I went for it. All this way, 56 minutes in, a head butt from the bike and I'd be damned if I was going to give up now. It was close, close enough that the podium girls already had lipstick applied and ready to kiss. I did it though and finished on the lap with the leaders. Raced as hard as I could. And as I'd find out a day later finished 53rd. Then onto the plane and back to the midwest to meet up with Sarah and Matt for the first round of the USGP in Madison.