Tag Archives: crash

Athens Twilight 2013

Quick summary
Awesome weekend hanging out with friends in Athens. Perhaps the highlight of my weekend was being there to see Mark Fisher win the amateur finals race in a crazy solo move. I was also very happy with how I was able to stay near the front in the pro race and even attack to take a $100 prime late in the race. With two laps to go, a couple guys crashed in front of me of me going into turn 1. As soon as I hit the brakes to try to stop, the guy behind me plowed into me at pretty much full speed — popping me up into the air and then landing ironically on him, his bike and unfortunately for my right knee, his pedal (or my own headset). Initially, I thought I had shattered my knee b/c the pain/shock was so great that I was almost paralyzed to even try to move to unstraddle my bike. Somehow after untangling everything I still had one foot on the left side of my bike and the other foot on the right side of my bike. So I’m standing there trying to figure out whether I can still get back on my bike when the field starts to come down the stretch again. I knew at this point there was no way to even ride in easy so I scrambled off the course just before the remnants of the field came barrelling into turn 1 again with one lap to go. Disappointing finish to an otherwise great weekend! On Sunday, I partially redeemed the weekend by discovering a new Cat 2 climb for Alabama (Campington Ridge) on what was supposed to be a 120 mile ride home via Mount Cheaha. Instead, I got to climb Cheaha in a thunderstorm full of lightning and then descend it in a thunderstorm downpour. By the time I made it to Talledega, finishing the ride wasn’t even on the menu any more — but a hot coffee and supersonic breakfast burrito while waiting for Kristine to come pick me up definitely was!

The videos
Well, as it turns out my camera bounced off my handlebars in Turn 2 fairly early in the race … I think it may have been the second or third lap. Some kind soul found it for me and turned it into Ashley Travieso. So assuming that the camera card wasn’t broken by the impact, then I should have videos to post of the scrum, call-ups, and first one or two laps. I’m picking up the camera from Ashley at the Sandy Springs race on Sunday so I’ll probably have those videos posted by Sunday night or Monday morning!

The data

Athens Twilight Pro/1 2013
59th place, crash 2 to go
Lap	Time	Mi.	AvgPow	MaxPow	HR	RPM	MPH
1	1:27	0.6	299	888	154	83	25.7
2	1:19	0.6	293	791	167	82	26.2
3	1:17	0.6	256	815	169	79	27.5
4	1:19	0.6	264	824	168	80	27
5	1:15	0.6	246	877	167	81	27.6
6	1:14	0.6	259	851	170	84	27.7
7	1:12	0.6	239	736	173	84	28.6
8	1:13	0.6	258	862	174	80	28
9	1:20	0.6	245	807	174	83	25.3
10	1:17	0.6	272	849	173	81	26.8
11	1:17	0.6	246	880	176	79	27.3
12	1:20	0.6	254	862	174	77	26
13	1:14	0.6	246	847	176	81	27.8
14	1:16	0.6	274	868	177	81	27.6
15	1:12	0.6	269	896	178	83	29.2
16	1:19	0.6	207	856	175	79	26.8
17	1:21	0.6	250	855	170	84	26.1
18	1:14	0.6	262	833	172	84	27.6
19	1:21	0.6	224	827	175	78	26.3
20	1:19	0.6	248	820	172	83	26.9
21	1:16	0.6	243	838	173	79	27.6
22	1:16	0.6	269	851	175	82	27.7
23	1:12	0.6	232	929	178	78	29.1
24	1:20	0.6	257	826	172	80	26.5
25	1:18	0.6	251	859	178	76	26.6
26	1:16	0.6	244	771	176	80	27.9
27	1:15	0.6	244	824	173	79	28.3
28	1:14	0.6	270	788	173	82	28.5
29	1:11	0.6	249	781	177	80	29.8
30	1:13	0.6	239	892	175	78	29
31	1:17	0.6	241	832	176	74	27.4
32	1:20	0.6	231	723	172	81	26.4
33	1:15	0.6	241	868	173	83	27.9
34	1:12	0.6	241	835	176	79	28.5
35	1:12	0.6	239	789	174	81	28.9
36	1:18	0.6	242	865	170	74	27
37	1:17	0.6	243	829	174	79	27.2
38	1:14	0.6	240	829	174	81	28.2
39	1:15	0.6	232	781	172	83	27.7
40	1:21	0.6	286	796	178	81	25.9
41	1:13	0.6	266	854	180	80	28.7
42	1:14	0.6	244	868	175	78	28.2
43	1:16	0.6	243	879	172	80	27.8
44	1:16	0.6	242	821	170	80	27.5
45	1:17	0.6	236	801	170	82	27.3
46	1:15	0.6	250	797	170	80	27.7
47	1:15	0.6	221	769	171	79	28.4
48	1:15	0.6	257	770	170	81	28
49	1:16	0.6	244	795	172	84	28.1
50	1:14	0.6	246	767	171	86	29
51	1:13	0.6	249	807	170	81	29.3
52	1:16	0.6	224	731	169	82	28.3
53	1:15	0.6	261	793	167	80	28.4
54	1:15	0.6	252	788	174	78	28.4
55	1:16	0.6	248	745	172	81	27.5
56	1:25	0.6	216	783	166	78	24.9
57	1:18	0.6	234	763	164	79	27.1
58	1:15	0.6	226	783	163	80	27.8
59	1:18	0.6	243	837	159	79	27.1
60	1:17	0.6	253	776	167	77	27.3
61	1:12	0.6	255	808	170	83	29.4
62	1:21	0.6	255	745	172	79	26.1
63	1:19	0.6	234	711	169	79	26.5
64	1:16	0.6	286	716	168	80	28
65	1:18	0.6	221	727	170	80	26.9
66	1:25	0.6	216	617	161	81	24.8
67	1:11	0.6	418	741	172	82	29
68	1:24	0.6	262	548	183	84	25
69	1:16	0.6	242	750	175	83	27.7
70	1:19	0.6	261	732	168	82	27.1
71	1:18	0.6	269	772	173	79	27.1
72,73	2:34	1.2	241	734	171	80	27.4
74-76	4:00	1.8	265	819	175	80	26.7
77	1:20	0.6	277	794	179	81	26.7

Towards the end of the lap data with rain moving in, apparently my GPS couldn’t keep up with the turns anymore and my auto-lap feature wasn’t kicking in correctly. Looking at the data, it may be that my crash was actually with 3 laps to go (2.75 laps).

Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 - Heartrate zone summaryAthens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 – Heartrate zone summary
Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 - Annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 – Annotated heartrate plot (click to enlarge)
Athens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 critical power curveAthens Twilight 2013 Pro/1 critical power curve

The detailed report
Athens Twilight is a race like no other in the country. From the atmosphere of thousands and thousands of people lining the entire course several rows deep, to the pre-race scrum fighting for position before the race even starts, to the super fast course, to the uncertainty of how the race itself could play out in any number of dramatically different scenarios. After racing it for seven years in a row now, I think I’ve figured out what makes the course so amazingly fast — the fact that turn 1 is so slow. What this does is it causes everyone from the back of the pack to have to accelerate really hard up the hill to keep from having gaps open up. Yet the course is so wide coming across the top of the hill that there are plenty of people with lots of momentum to slingshot past the guys at the front causing the guys at the front to respond and pick up their speed behind the new guys who are trying to attack or go off the front. And that new faster speed is easily carried through the wide turn #3. Heading into turn #4 you are coasting, so you have a chance to recover and then hit it really hard again through the start/finish. This process repeats itself enough times and pretty soon you are averaging over 30mph per lap.

I had a really great start in this year’s race on the second row, and I held good position towards the front third of the group until a crash coming out of Turn #1 at the very front of the field caused a pile-up. I could see guys pulling up behind it and getting ready to head back to the pit, but I also could see a way around the mess so I opted to just keep riding since there were no gaps I could see. Going up the hill out of turn #2, I was in a bit of a panic b/c I could see a front group of about 25 riders had separated itself from maybe the next 50 or so of us — and I was near the very back of this group. Fortunately, some heavy hitters were not in that front 25 so our group was able to catch back up before the end of that lap.

In the chaos of the crash and remerging of the groups, a few riders slipped away and formed a dangerous looking break. Predator missed the move, though, and after 15-20 laps of steady chasing they brought it back. A few laps later, a three man move including eventual winner Kevin Mullervy (Champion/NoTubes), Carlos Alzate (UHC), and Frank Travieso (Mountain Khakis) escaped and quickly got a good gap on the field. Predator went to the front again to chase, but they couldn’t get any help from anyone else. During these laps, I was slowly working my way back up towards the front. Then with maybe 16 or 17 laps to go, I was in good position and the pace of the field let up at the front so I thought about attacking up the hill with no real race objective other than to be off the front for Kristine. I realized it would be better to wait for a prime, though, and on the very next lap they rang the bell for a $100 field prime. The pace slowed again just a bit across the top and I took that opportunity to launch an attack to go for the prime.

I imagined the whole time I was attacking that I was just pulling the field with me or at least one or two other riders who would come around to take the prime, so I sprinted hard all the way to the line not realizing that I had escaped cleanly and had maybe a 5 second gap by the line. I was cooked from the effort, though, so I sat up, recovered, and waited for the field. I slotted back in at the front of the field and spent the next 12 laps attacking up the outside on the hill to keep from getting passed by the field and then slotting back in behind UHC through the start/finish. This was taking its toll on me but I was maintaining good position until 3 laps to go heading into Turn 3 when the pace eased up a bit on the downhill and I wasn’t close enough to the barriers so a whole slew of people came around me on the outside. I tapped the brakes feeling squeezed by the people on the inside and lost even more positions. I think I probably went from top 15 back down to top 30 by the start/finish line. Shortly after the start/finish line heading into turn #1, there was a big pile-up on the ground in front of me, and as I hit my brakes to try to stop before running into it, the guy behind me plowed into me from behind propelling me up into the air a bit and then ironically landing on top of him as he came sliding by me on the ground.

Side note – I’ve now crashed five times at Athens Twilight after racing it for 7 years. Out of those five times, my body has only hit the ground twice – once in 2007 when I landed on my butt in the straight section between Turn #3 and Turn #4 when somebody went too far outside hit the curb and bounced back into the group taking down a number of riders (including me) and then once in 2011 when I landed hard on my wrist in a very similar wreck to this year’s except going through Turn #1 instead of heading into it. The other three wrecks (two more in 2007, I had three wrecks that year, and one in either 2008 or 2009) have all involved me landing on top of other people already on the ground!

My first thought was get back up and try to tack back onto the riders who were still streaming by those of us caught up in the wreck. But my bike was so tangled up in two other rider’s bikes that it took a few seconds to even get the bikes untangled. By this point, the field was gone. Also, it was about that time I realized must have cracked my knee really hard on something (pedal, headset) as it was bleeding and hurting quite a bit. In fact, the location of the pain paralyzed me for a few seconds as I was afraid to move or bend my leg thinking that I had done some serious damage to my knee and would end up crumpling back to the ground if I tried to move. As I looked back to the start/finish I could see the lead moto and knew that the field was coming soon so this forced me to try to move and I found that I could move my knee without any additional pain. I climbed through the fence as spectators grabbed my bike and pulled it into the beer tent. Turning down numerous offers for beers, ambulances, and other forms of assistance, I was able to take my bike and ride it through the crowd to the start/finish line where Chad was interviewing the winner, Kevin.

Even having to pull out with three to go, I still ended up 59th as many of the nearly 100 starters had already abandoned the race earlier. So I’m happy to not have to put a DNF in my results! Kristine related to me later that the race for first was an intriguing one with Kevin attacking the break with six to go and Frank and Carlos hesistating to chase. This gave Kevin enough room to solo it in from six to go. Carlos ended up outsprinting Frank for 2nd with Frank rounding out the podium in 3rd. All-in-all I think it was a good race for me being in good position so late in the race and then just a bit of bad luck with two to go. C’est la vie – can’t wait until next year!!!!!

Alabama’s newest Cat 2 climb – Bain’s Gap to Campington Ridge
On the way home I had Kristine drop me off on the old Fort Mclellan property so I could ride a new Cat 2 climb and then bike almost 120 miles home via Mount Cheaha. Along the way I saw a really cool wild turkey run across the road, and a long black snake, and then I got absolutely soaked in a thunderstorm on the top of Mt Cheaha – quite scary with all the lightning – and a huge downpour on the descent down into Talladega. By the time I made it to Talladega, I was ready to be done riding so I called Kristine to come pick me up. I got some cool pics that I’ve posted in the gallery below.

Anatomy of a rainy crash

Branch segment that took me down on my commute into work.

Well, I almost made it through the rest of the year without crashing after my spill at the end of the Sandy Springs crit in May. Today, though, I hit the branch that is shown in the picture above. I never saw it because it was mixed in with a bunch of leaves on the ground. When I hit the branch, my wheels slid out immediately left and me and the bike went sliding on our right sides. It was not “slide friendly” pavement. Look at the damage to the handlebar tape and handlebar. Now imagine that same damage on my arm, hip, and hands. Or at least that’s what I thought I was going to find … instead I have some bad road rash in just a few isolated spots on my arm, hip, and hands. But enough to make it a challenge to type and to be dripping blood from those spots. I may have done something to my hip, though. Right now I am just hoping that I only damaged the muscles and tendons on the outside and inside of my hip.

As soon as I hit the branch and went flying along the ground with my bike, I had enough time to think as I was sliding along the ground for 8 SECONDS. My thoughts went something like this:

  • What did I hit?
  • I’m ok, that didn’t hurt too bad, I can still make it into school
  • Oh no, this is a really long slide
  • Oh crap, this is not good pavement to be sliding on
  • When am I going to stop?
  • Class is cancelled
  • I can’t ride home

It’s amazing what all had to come together for me to crash. There was a bad storm system moving in, so I left for work early and was planning on going through Bluff Park. But as I got near Lorna Rd, the clouds were getting darker and the rain was starting to get heavier, so I decided to turn around and take the more direct Vestavia route into school. Still, as annotated in the map, I was planning on taking the Vestavia Forest route since I had plenty of time this morning to add on the extra mile. Unfortunately, I missed the Hwy 31 light and I wasn’t going to wait for it so I turned around and was planning on taking my normal route up Badham – Willoughby – Garland – Wickford. But when I got to the Willoughby intersection, I decided that I didn’t want to do the extra steep climb in the middle and opted to stay straight on Badham since it is a more gradual climb. So this put me onto a section of Badham that I normally do on my way home from work. But on that route home, I normally turn at the intersection where today I went straight. It was just past this intersection on a stretch of road that I hardly ever ride where I hit the branch hidden amongst the leaves on the road.

Anatomy of a wet bike crash

Here’s the link to the data on Strava … you click and zoom in on the section of the crash to see the 8 second slide. http://app.strava.com/rides/2349857

I stood up and was feeling some pain in my hip and a lot of pain from the road rash on my hands so I just started yelling “help” because I was hoping somebody would come out from their house and offer me a ride home or at least so I could borrow a phone to call home for Kristine to come pick me up. I stood there yelling for a minute or two and nobody came out. I walked back up the street and found the branch which was the only thing in the road that I could see that would have caused such a sudden jolt and crash. I stuck it in my backpack and tried to figure out what to do. By this point after falling, I had calmed down enough and had assessed the various pains enough to realized that I could probably ride home because I could still move everything and nothing appeared to be broken on my bike. I got on and started riding just as the storm really hit. It was a thunderstorm downpour all the way back to my house.

I was just inspired to see what I had written up about previous crashes … check them out here:


And a couple of accidents back to back in the summer of 2006:

http://www.toonesalive.com/blog/family/?p=232 (hit and run)