Negative to Positive
Ok, so. Not the blog I was planning to be writing at this time of the year. My “clear goals” and “box ticking” from my previous blog definitely did not happen! As seems to be the trend this year, I’m on this learning curve and it’s getting steeper by the day. I went into the Team Pursuit really confident and I actually thought we could do a solid ride. Turns out it took me right back to 2009 – actually, not even, we missed out on our previous Irish record by a tenth or two (David McCann, Paul Healion RIP, David O’Loughlin and me). The thing that erks me the most is that the bunch of guys I’m riding with are so young and so fast that we could easily chop 10 seconds off that time with a few more races under our belts to calm the nerves. I can honestly say I sat on the rollers for around 20 minutes pondering what the hell happened. I really didn’t think it was possible to go that slow but the wheels well and truly fell off the wagon. Here’s a comparison for you, Bobby Lea (USA) did an individual pursuit of 4m16s in the middle of an Omnium and we had 4 whole big dudes and did a 4m11s. The only good thing I can see coming from this is that is gives everyone on the team a kick in the ass and when we get it right it will have been worth waiting for!
So, day 2, the Omnium. This is where I planned to turn my weekend around. I slept really well overnight, rested well the previous day and I was mentally tuned in to do the best scratch race I could. I had a really good feeling – I almost skipped to the track. However, as I have come to know, life has a way of kicking you in the balls and bringing you right back down to earth. As per usual, the Omnium now starts with the scratch race and I’d be lying if I said I was comfortable throughout the race. I geared up expecting it to be fast and I wasn’t wrong. There were times when I really had my teeth out. With roughly 7 or 8 laps to go, the bunch regrouped and stalled in anticipation for the sprint. As soon as I thought about the finish; splat, I found myself in the middle of a pile of bikes. The first thing I did was reach for my shoulder where I could feel a bone sticking out of it – what made it that bit more real was that I could see it sticking out of my skin suit.
Excuse the shady pic but ya get the idea! Nowhere to go.
From this point on every third word was a swear word and turns out a helmet doesn’t bounce – sorry Giro! I was so pissed as I knew I was genuinely on for a solid race result. First man on the scene was Brian who I reckon tried his best to not show his frustration but like I said, that’s life. If there’s one man I know who is quick to see the bright side, it’s Brian which is exactly what I needed. Once I was in the pit area, there was gaggle of friendly faces around me – Brian, Andy Sparks (USA) and also Richard Freeman (British Cycling Doctor) whom I got to know well in Guadeloupe……see my previous Blogs for another stupid crash. I don’t make a habit of this I swear.
From this point on, there’s not a lot to say that is glamourous. I was stuffed in the back of a tiny Ambulance with three Mexicans and two Russians and not a word of English between them – throw in me with my nearly English….loads of chat! After what seemed like an eternity bouncing around in the back of the Ambulance, we got to the Hospital. Once at the hospital things happened pretty quick – I was looked at, poked, prodded, x-rayed and told the worst within the hour. This was where the ball was in my court. Operate here and stay here for an extra day or go home and get the work done with local surgeons and familiar hospitals. Once I made the decision to go home, the local doctor seemed happy enough. He fitted me with a brace, gave me some painkillers and sent me on my way. Weirdest thing happened though; in the middle of putting the brace on, I started to feel sick, went all hot and sweaty, went a bit deaf and heaped over for the second time that day. Turns out thats what happens when you’ve a bone sticking out and people playing around with it - It hurt, a lot. This is where I need to give a big thanks to Neill Delahaye for the help. He organized everything from the lifting and laying and even gave me his clothes to wear home. Between him and Alex Castanon, who was there to help with the language barrier, my life was made so much easier.
Next thing to do was get home as soon as possible. With the help of strong painkillers and a little alcohol my ten hour flight was gone in a blink. I‘ve travelled business class three times in my life – twice I was broken. I hope someday to actually be conscious and enjoy the bloody thing! This is where my morale took a severe dent. I was ushered on and off planes in a wheelchair racing Grannies to be the first in the queue. If I was left on my own though I would have been fairly useless so I was grateful for the help.
I remember when I was younger, I loved X-rays. I really really wanted to see what I looked like. Now, I’m sick of seeing what I look like and I really really never want to see one again!
When I got back to Ireland, I went to Belfast to see a super duper guru surgeon and I got a bit of a kick in the kidneys. I was hoping for a swift “I can fix you, lie down” but instead I got a “oh that’s a nasty looking cut, here’s some antibiotics, see you in a week”. It did knock the wind out of me but after speaking with some people, I’m happy that this is the best course of action. A week here could have been a few months the other side if it wasn’t done properly and I'm just happy to have the surgeon do exactly what he thinks is best.
As I’m finishing up tying this, I’m not long in from the Cycling Ireland Awards Dinner. It was really nice to get an invite because honestly, I feel like a “has been” at this point in time. It was a good show and I got plenty of encouragement from the people who’ve been there and done it. On another positive note, as this week went on the news filtered out that I’ve signed with Madison Genesis for next year. Yet again, there were more words of encouragement from the cycling bubble. The team DS is Roger Hammond, I have a long lasting memory of Roger, mainly that in my first year of cycling, he finished on the podium of Paris Roubaix, not too shabby.
Words of wisdom from Sean Kelly.
Right, I'm off. I'm sitting here with everything crossed and hoping I get my surgery on Tuesday. If all goes well the next time you here from me I'll have a new wing.
Thanks for reading.