All I remember is seeing him switch the girl in front of me and then I was riding straight into her ribs. The next thing I remember is asking the paramedics if I needed stitches…three times because I hate needles.
I really thought the stars were aligned in my favour at the HoRa Run Bike Run in Boekend last Sunday. It was the perfect temperature, I got a good spot in transition, and even the knee pain I was having that week seemed to have loosened after warming up. The cherry on top was that it was birthday so I was feeling extra ambitions and happy.
With lessons learned from my last duathlon, I was focused on getting a good position on the first run. Right off the line one girl (pictured above) charged after the front men and immediately opened a gap of 10 seconds. When I noticed she was starting to fade at about 3kms, I held the pace steady and then accelerated when I past her so she wasn’t hot on my heels. I struggled in the last 800m but I stayed in front with a 10 second gap and clocked a 5km PB.
Transition went smoothly and, since drafting was allowed, I quickly hopped on someone’s wheel. I wanted to stay out of the crosswind but I had dug deep in the run and my legs were feeling it. Our twosome grew into about 6 and, although I was struggling on the technical parts of the course, as a group we had settled into a nice tempo. With about 7km’s to go, I was sitting 3rd wheel, waiting for my turn to roll through when it happened.
All of a sudden the guy leading switched the girl in front of me. Both of them went down and before I knew it I was riding straight for the girl’s ribs. That’s when I blacked out.
My memory only starts again in the ambulance when I was adamantly asking the paramedic if I need stitches, as if my fear of needles was enough to reboot my brain. I asked him three times. Then I persistently asked if it was my fault. The paramedic reassured me it wasn’t and explained what caused the crash. It was news to me. At that time, I had no idea at the time what had happened at all. As he explained, bits and pieces came back to me but I still don’t remember anything from after hitting the girl to sitting in the ambulance. After being treated by the paramedics a police van drove me back to race headquarters. I was definitely high on adrenaline because I was joking to the police officer that sitting in the back made me feel like I had been arrested.
Survival mode kicked in when I entered the registration area and I made a bee-line for my phone, got warm clothes, and something to eat before sitting down with another medic. As she continued to clean my smaller wounds with what felt like razor-blade disinfectant, I opened something to eat. As I put food in my mouth, I winced from the pain. My teeth had gone through my bottom lip, my lips were grazed and swollen, and I had roasties above my lips, on my cheeks and my nose. Even then I still thought I was ok, reassuring people that “it’s just part of racing.”
I was finally picked up and we were on our way home but my friend said he had to make a quick stop to say hello to someone. Finally left alone, I pulled down the sun visor in the car to examine my wounds. “Oh my God.” Let me tell you, ignorance is bliss. I looked like the bride of Frankenstein with a lip job gone wrong. It only got worse when I got home and had to scrub everything clean, and worse still when the adrenaline wore off and I began to feel a creeping stiffness all over, paired with a wicked headache thanks to a concussion.
After all the drama was over, the boys where I lived surprised me with cakes (yes, two!) to celebrate my birthday. Pain killers came in two forms that night: homemade carrot cake with creme fraiche frosting and homemade apple cake with hand-whipped cream.