I have had my fair share of crashes on the bike, both while training and in races. At the end of a race, it can get pretty chaotic at the pointy end of the field so over the years, I have developed a bit of respect for the crazy sprinters that are brave enough to try their luck each time. The same way that you have respect for the clown at the rodeo whose job it is to distract/confuse/enrage the bull.
Today I received a sobering reminder that cycling can be a dangerous sport and when you crash at 50+kph, it can hurt. A friend of my managed to hit the deck hard in the final sprint of a club race and landed on his face, knocking himself out and breaking his nose. He slid along the bitumen for a while before coming to a stop in the middle of the track and leaving a pool of blood.
(Please note: I did not take this photo while he was laying there in pain. Someone else did!)
Many other cyclists stood around and were reminded that sometimes taking the risk is just not worth it. In the past, if a final sprint is a bit hectic, I would simply sit up and let others contest in the craziness. I would remind myself that it wasn’t worth the risk and that I had other responsibilities to worry about such as work and family. If I broke something, I could be up for thousands of dollars to replace it. After all, it’s not like I was doing it for a living.
Today, as we stood around and waited for the ambulance, something occurred to me. Now, I DO do it for a living. Does that mean I can no longer take the safe option and think of my other responsibilities? What excuse do I have now? Can I still choose life at the end of a race when people are touching handlebars at 50+kph?
Regardless of this, one thing still remains the same. There is nothing worse than the searing pain that you feel when you have to take a shower with road rash all over your body. Nobody needs to experience that pain and I don’t think there is ever really a time when it is worth the risk.