Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Broken Collarbone and National Title

I finally got my motivation to ride back after the MTB national disaster sometime around the beginning of September. I thought that with nationals being up at Tahoe, if I trained I might have a shot at winning the race and finally end the foreign stranglehold on the race. I was feeling pretty good going into nationals despite getting DQ'd at one of the collegiate races for a wrong turn, and finishing 6th at the RMCCC conference mud fest. I had a slight head cold, but other than having water poring out of my nose I was good. After leading the XC for most of the first lap, Rotem attacked me and I had nothing. I closed a little on the DH (which was probably the best DH I have done in a really long time) but he took off on the climbs and was gone. I finished 2nd. The Short Track went similarly except that I couldn't go down hill to save my life. I actually had about a 5 second gap going into the first DH, but I managed to blow out of both pedals and ended up standing over my top tube with the whole collegiate field bearing down on me. Rotem left towards the end of the race and I was able to pass a Lees McRay guy on the last lap to take 2nd again. Turns out that I needed to train for more than a month to beat the foreign muscle brought in by Fort Lewis. Next year. However, Nationals didn't end for me there. Because I won the Intermountain conference in four cross and because I was the sole member of the University of Utah's team (Rob and Dave were too busy being lazy) I was able to race the 4x and DH races thus qualifying me for the omnium.
I was able to finish in 44th place (points went 50 deep) in the 4x and then all that was left was the DH. I had had a good qualifying run that put me ahead of all the big contenders for the omnium and all I needed was a clean run down. The race started off great. I hit all of the lines that I wanted to and had a really fast run going. Then I came around a tree and there was a big boulder in my line. I swerved to avoid the rock and hit the next rock drop in a place I hadn't before. The ledge off the rock bucked my rear wheel up into the air and I landed very nose heavy. I almost saved it, hit some more rocks, almost saved that, hit more rocks, and then I was looking up at my tires. I landed on my head and shoulder pretty hard, spun around, grabbed my bike, and took off again. I started to notice that my left shoulder hurt everytime that I hit a bump, but I had to get down inside the top 50 to score a point. I went as fast as I could and my shoulder hurt more and more. Now there were shock waves being send down my arm every time I hit a rock. After crossing the line and getting a medical guy to look at it, I took the chairlift down. While I was at the bottom trying to decide if I should go to the hospital like the guy suggested or not, Abby called with the results. 50th. I had scored at least one point in every event and I was the All Around National Champion. Of course this meant that there was no way that I was going to go to the hospital. I had to put on the stars and stripes jersey for the first time. I had come so close so many times before and so many times I had been thwarted by illness or injury, but this time neither illness or injury was able to stop me. I had to put it on. It was the most painful yet satisfying thing I have ever done.
After I returned home my shoulder started to feel better and I thought that I had just torn some muscles, but when it didn't get better by the next week, I decided it was time for an X-Ray. Turns out that I broke my collarbone. It was very very close to needing surgery but fortunately the bottom part of the bone hung on by a sliver. Even so, off the bike for 4 weeks. Pretty much sums up my season this year. Able to train for a month, got sick, injured myself, had to take a month off. All and all, a pretty frustrating year. I'm hoping to be back for cross nationals and I am really pumped to get out and race again.