Here we are again for another installment of my crazy Para-cycling life!
The scene is Winston-Salem North Carolina in May…and it was HOT!! As in break out the panty hose and fill them with ice kind of hot. (Yes that’s an actual thing in hot weather cycling.) Between Masters and Para racers there were a reported 900 cyclists descending upon Winston Salem bringing with us a couple million in economic revenue. Win and win! I have to say most everyone handled the huge surge in people quite well as there are always those people who are unhappy with just about everything. For the people I was in contact with they absolutely loved having us there and we thank you for that!!
The road race course was green and beautiful with rolling terrain a plenty. The start time was a smoking hot 4pm…not good for many of us but it is what it is. This year there was a new T1 racer to the line and not knowing anything about him I was a bit nervous and curious to see what he was all about. Off we went and all was good until the North Carolina heat started messing with me. Yes I’m from Vegas and heat sometimes isn’t an issue but humidity is…40 minutes in I blacked out for just a bit then came back and on the next climb I hit the proverbial wall. I couldn’t get my body to turn the pedals anymore and no amount of self-talk was doing the trick. Sensing my impending doom in the heat I made a smart decision to abandon the race and not risk hospitalization. Couple of dudes on motorbikes came by and shortly after that I was off my bike and laying in the grass on the side of the road in the shade. I guess I was worse off than I thought because when I finally was able to get both feet on the ground I collapsed. Crap and crap!
Score at this point Heat 1 – Jay 0!
It really is interesting that you meet some really awesome people when you’re at your worst and this time in the ambulance was no different. Once EMS got over the fact that an incomplete quadriplegic was riding an upright trike the “How did you do that?” questions started coming. Can’t say thank you enough to the EMS, fire department and police personnel that saved my bacon and for keeping everyone as safe as possible on such a unique course. Truly people don’t thank these people enough and you should because no matter what you think of the uniform they’ll always be there when no one else will.
Some 45-60 minutes later I was back in the pit area returning to whatever state of normal I can claim after this injury. The big topic of the evening was “Who can we talk to to remedy the problems of having paracyclists race in the heat of the day?” And yes the politically correct answer is it is ultimately up to the racer to decide if conditions are too difficult or risky for them to compete, however, many of us can’t sweat or even regulate the heat like “non-injured” people can, so why create an environment to potentially send people to the hospital?
What I can say is this, USA Cycling learned in a big way what happens and come race time 2 days later at roughly the same time they showcased what they had learned by having people with ample supplies of water placed along the course drenching whoever needed it. Score one for things getting sorted out on their own. Many thanks to volunteers, moto crew, Mavic neutral support, PossAbilities, and anyone else that pitched in to keep us cooler…we all thank you!!
Time Trial in…3…2…1…GO! GO! GO!
The time trial took place on, and I’m not kidding, Red, White, and Blue Road close to Union Grove, NC. The course was an out and back style with a few climbs and was almost arrow straight, other than the 180 turnaround at the end. Something a couple of my fellow racers screwed up on and got disqualified…ooops! Pays to know what 18k is in miles and vice versa. Plus I think there were more interested in pushing each other and winning than anything else.
Back to my race… Airflow over the body was a plenty, not to mention the water soakings every 1/2 mile, and the fact I did finish this race and came home with another National Title, which now makes 4, if you were curious. The week was a success even with a dash of failure thrown in. Failure seems so negative let’s call them…powerful lessons.
Huge thank you to Challenged Athletes Foundation, Go Fast Sports, my coach Rick, Wittson Ti-Cycles and Belgium Cycles for my sweet trike frame, my friends and family for their help and understanding that even though I hurt like an SOB you didn’t stand in the way of letting me compete again so soon after passing out.
Up next is I’m off to Reno, NV. for the Biggest Little Paracycling TT and within 2 days of being home back on the road to Colorado to spend some time with my friends at Craig Hospital and support their annual Pedal 4 Possible ride. Gonna seem weird being back in the ole stomping grounds but it’ll feel good.
I’m not going to mention the Rio Paralympics in this post, other than this sentence, because I still don’t know at this point. Given the complexity and “politics” of such an event as to how many spots a country gets and ring fencing and this and that and some of those…whoa I was about to step on the soapbox!! Cycling I think gets 150 spots across all the countries because there are only so many medals, beds, and room to house the hundreds of athletes coming to Rio. The system is fare given the complexity of it.
See ya soon!!