After another week travelling and last week's result I wasn't expecting much from this race, but I wasn't really prepared for the outcome either.
Everything went pretty much as last week at the beginning. No idea when the race really started but really noticed the first big push, and that was when we were about to cross the line for second time, 12 to go (the race was thirteen and a half laps).
The problem I have with a "500m to go signal" before a line that is at the top of "a climb" is that even if we still have 11 to go everyone sprints like crazy to the line... and they drop me.
Luckily this time I was well positioned; when the push came I was fifth or sixth position. Pretty much everyone passed me and before we crossed the line (with 11 to go!!!) I had a gap of around 20 meters with the rider that was in front of me. I tried to push it to get on his wheel but it was too much for me. I gave up, at least mentally. But another rider passed me, he wasn't riding that fast so I decided to jump on his wheel. The group eased a bit later and that rider took me to the back of the peloton. Literally, saved by the bell.
Pretty much same history in every single lap; surviving, but constantly at the limit of being dropped.
When I saw the 6 to go I almost raised my hands in celebration. I was really really happy. I had survived more than half of the race.
Happiness didn't last very long though, I was dropped in the following lap. Nothing brutal, just a bunch that pedals away while you say goodbye and mumble your frustration. A bit more than 4 laps to go so I decided to keep riding and finish the race.
Very soon a WyndyMilla rider rider caught me. Not sure by which mechanism but I felt relived finding out I was not the the first nor the only one dropped. Jumped on his wheel and soon I took a turn as a sign that we could work together. I guess he agreed because we started to take turns keeping a fair pace.
A lap later we saw a lonely rider in front of us and in one of the turns we got him. It was a Pedal Heaven rider, and again I found comfort in the fact that elite riders also get dropped. Silly, I know, but that's how I felt.
We worked well together until one turn that the Pedal Heaven rider instead of waiting for me to pass him he moved to the right. I thought it was weird but accelerated a bit to pass him just to realize he was moving to the right to turn left. Not having time to turn left I went straight, stopped and turned back.
When I was back on route they had quite a gap. I tried to keep a sustainable pace and I think they were waiting for me but still took me five or six minutes to catch them. At the left turn just after crossing the line with 3 to go.
That was a descend so I was sitting at the back recovering. Suddenly they broke and I broke but probably too late and too hard. I fell off the bicycle hitting the tarmac quite hard. A few cars stopped to help me and it took me about a minute to recover from the shock before I could stand up.
The pain in my shoulder and a bulge that was not there in the morning reminded me this tweet from David Lloyd and I figured I had broken my right collarbone.
It was also the time to realize how nice everyone was. The driver and his wife that stopped, called the ambulance and stayed with me until I was taken to the hospital. The personal from the two ambulances that showed up. Paul Altorf, from the Twickenham CC, that offered himself to take care of my bike (It is a huge relief to know your bike is going to be safe when your are taken to the hospital). The Commissaire, Tom McCaw, that got my car key, assured me he would move my car with the bike in it to a public parking and that allowed me to call my wife before he tried (in these cases it makes a world of a different to talk to the husband directly). And last, but not least, the lady from the organization, unfortunately I don't remember her name (update 13/Nov/2014 - It turns out her name is Susan), that came to visit me at the hospital, offered herself to coordinate with Tom to collect my car key and bring it back to me at the hospital and charge my mobile in the meantime (the crash, somehow, drained the battery). Not to mention the sympathy from NHS personal at the St Peter's hospital.
It is in moments like this when you are reminded how fortunate we are enjoying organizations like Twickenham CC, British Cycling and the NHS. I feel extremely grateful for all the help and support received and really sorry for all the hassle I have caused to everyone.
At the beginning the doctor thought it was going to be just a dislocated shoulder but the X rays confirmed it was a broken collarbone.
From that moment a rollercoaster of feelings. Wondering how soon I will be able to jump on the turbo, asking myself how I'm going to make it to not gain weight, despairing at the thought of many weeks (always too many) out of the bike, questioning where bad luck ends and clumsiness begins, struggling to convince myself this is not the right moment to decide to quit racing or even cycling altogether. Finding comfort in the idea that, at the end of the day, this is the best moment to get injured... I'm sure tomorrow I'll have a better day.
The ride in Strava
Take care (something I obviously failed to do today)
Javier Arias González