I’m excited to be going home, and disappointed for the reason. It has been a great season so far, and I was looking forward to this time on the road racing Glencoe, Tulsa Tough, and Nature Valley. Well, the racing was realistically over before it really had a chance to begin.
A torrential downpour engulfed the Glencoe criterium. With 5 laps to go I hit the deck pretty hard due to a rider changing her line to avoid a manhole cover in the apex of a turn. I suffered minimal road rash, had a few contusions on my hip and back side, and hit my head pretty hard. I was lucky to not break anything when I slid into the curb, but received a concussion that left me dizzy and a bit out of sorts. I was seen on site by two MD’s and was told there was nothing to be done other then monitor my head for any worsening conditions.I was scheduled to fly out in two days to Tulsa, OK for Tulsa Tough. A decision needed to be made: go home now or fly to Tulsa spend the week there and see how the head was feeling. I chose the latter. The first few days in Tulsa I rested, slept and took note of how the head felt. Over the next few days I got out on the bike for some easy short rides again paying attention to what the body was saying. I had a bit of anxiety, but the foggy feeling was lifting. I was still extremely fatigued by end of day and was avoiding to much mental stimulation, making sure to get plenty of sleep.
Teammates arrived on Thursday and I put in some harder efforts on the bike, to test the legs and the head. Legs were not happy and nothing significant to report with the concussion. I knew I was still concussed but symptoms were not worsening and i felt it was manageable, so I decided to race.
As I write this, and I’m sure as you read this you will be thinking the same thing. “What was I thinking, this is my brain, my life force, what makes me who I am. No race is worth the damage that could happen.” I know this and yet the drive and determination to race my bike was stronger. I kept telling myself I was ok, I would monitor how I felt and if the time came during the race to pull out I would.
I raced all three days, Friday night I had a really hard time getting my head in the race, I was not the confident, aggressive racer I had been a few weeks ago, I was getting a bit overwhelmed in the pack so was motivated to be off the front and launch some attacks, the pack was nervous and there were several crashes, one that almost took me down but I managed to keep it upright. This race was a struggle for me, I just did not have the clarity and the fight it took to be in the final push for the sprint.
Day two was a bit better, a faster course so a safer race. I again tried to be aggressive and managed to be so in the first part of the race but realized at some point mid race I should not be racing. I was not dangerous to myself or to others, it was something I felt, I could feel myself slipping into a hole that would not be easy to come out of. I tailgunned most of the race and with 3 to go my instincts kicked in and I made the push to the front, sitting top three in chase of one rider off the front. 2 to go i lost a few spots, and with one to go I was a bit further back then I would have liked but had confidence I could make up ground to make the podium, coming in to the final turn a rider sat up right in front of me and there I was with nowhere to go safely until we made the turn. I could not make up the ground lost at this time and came in disappointed but with my mind made up that I needed to go home.
My team mate Liza was sitting in 5th in the omnium and wanting to support her and help keep here there. I decided to race the last day, Crybaby Hill, and do every thing I could for the team. I have raced Tulsa Tough several times and had great aspirations for these races. Having a respectable season I had a goal to have a good result in Tulsa, but after the concussion and making up my mind the night before, I knew this would not be my year. I attacked early on hoping it would count for something, burn some matches and protect Liza for as long as possible. Crybaby Hill is unlike any other race I have ever seen, with thousands of spectators dancing in the streets on the hill in costume, celebratory beverage in hand. Sound Pony marshals blow their whistles to part the sea of people just in time for the racers to come through. This is something special to be a part of. My final time up the climb the crowd cheering I new my fight was over so I indulged myself and the crowd with high fives and they went insane. With continued team work Liza and Elle stayed in the main group with one up the road for the win and Liza sprinting to maintain her 5th over all.
With Tulsa over it is time to go home. This was a hard decision to make to back out of Nature Valley and not be there to support my teammates. I will hit the reset button and be back to continue the season, soon enough, but not before I am ready.