It was past midnight on Sunday in New England and the House Industries–Richard Sachs cyclocross team was in the ER. We’d driven up on Friday to race the Gran Prix of Gloucester. Now, halfway through the weekend, we found ourselves in the hospital.
We were on our way back from dinner Saturday night, sometime after 9, meters from the safety of our host house, when a curb attacked Dan Timmerman’s face. I had already rushed inside in hopes of beating him to the shower; Dan was outside with BrittLee, our third team member, chatting with a former Sierra Nevada teammate of Dan’s who’d joined us for dinner. That’s when Dan blacked out.
By BrittLee's account, Dan was out for just a few seconds, yet he’d hit the ground pretty hard—with his face. We quickly decided that we should go to the nearby hospital, in Beverly, Mass., at the very least to get his cut stitched up, but, more important, to make sure he was OK and didn't have a concussion.
The nurses worked fast. They cleaned out Dan’s cut, did an EKG, and told us that the doctor would be in to see him shortly, to stitch him up and try to figure out what was wrong. And then we waited. It was definitely not the best way to get ready for day two of racing on Sunday, but we made the most of it. We tried to keep Dan entertained while he stared at the ceiling. The nurses came in a few times, asking about our matching sweatshirts. BrittLee enthusiastically explained cyclocross racing and talked about our team. I think she turned them into fans.
About 1 o’clock in the morning Dan and I finally persuaded BrittLee that I should drive her back to the house so that she could get some sleep. She was flying on day one—finishing 16th in a world-class field—but she didn't want to leave us. And honestly it would have been nice to keep the team party going in the ER. Yet one of us had to be able to pedal bikes fast the next day.
My race on Saturday was marred by a high-speed crash, but I fought on and finished 34th. Timmerman pulled out with about three laps to go (he’d been fighting a bug all week). Even with the lack of sleep, I still had my fingers crossed for a better day Sunday.
After all, it’s Gloucester! The New England World Championships. The only race that might have a more stacked field is nationals. On Saturday I was pre-riding the course with Adam Myerson, talking about how amped everyone was and how crazy the first lap would be. He said, “I’m going to ride this like a World Cup.” At Gloucester, all of us second-row guys become fourth-row guys. There are so many good guys that even a front-row start doesn’t guarantee safety. Big races like this are chaotic.
At 2:30 a.m. we finally got discharged. The hospital had run blood work, chest X-rays, and a CAT scan. They didn't find anything or tell us anything really, except that Dan has a really big heart. But we already knew that.
The next day, as expected, BrittLee flew the Richard Sachs team colors high. I didn't exactly feel fresh, yet I was hoping the legs would come around. After a so-so start, I had enough gas to jump forward from group to group, but then I crashed, again. It was one of those slow, really dumb-looking wipeouts where the cause was clearly user error.
My head has been letting my legs down lately, and it’s starting to bum me out. I need to ride out of this rut. My good rides in Vermont seem like a long time ago now. But on the bright side, I know my teammates are never going to leave me in the ER by myself.