Monday, June 2, 2014

Leonardtown Tacks and Crash Sally Crash: MABRA Endures Rough Weekend

I ghosted a couple of categories at this Saturday's Ride Sally Ride.  By that, I mean I floated around the backside like a fly around a donkey's rear end: cautiously and totally without any concern for appearances.  For the first time in years, I didn't even bother to shave my legs.  Shaved legs are for closers only.

Because I stuck to the rear, I didn't see much of what happened.  I did get to see Clarke Lind about 45 times as he lay in the grass, ringed by pseudo-concerned folks standing in a circle and probably tossing a frisbee to each other.

I also didn't see my former teammate, Zack Felpel, nearly steal victory, literally from the gutter, from DJ.  Thankfully John C. of Wheelistic photography was on hand to capture it:

My response to this is the same response my oldest brother once had when he happened upon a viewing of Fast and Furious: that's dangerous.  Felpel takes a daring outside line that, to me in my fragile and risk-averse state, seems destined for death and destruction.  I want to shout to the bystanders, especially the little girl standing in the first few frames: "RUN FOR YOUR LIVESSSSS!"

As hard as it was seeing Clarke roughed up, apparently Leonardtown was far worse.  If MABRA were Game of Thrones, this past weekend would've been our Bloody Wedding (for extra weepy effect, watch with pregnant wife!).  Come to think of it, it's been a bloody May all around the cycling world, with Taylor Phinney slammed into the barriers by a motoref, and a Giro d'Italia that featured several stages run on ice skating rinks... well as a rampaging Tyler Farrar.

Farrar is not the first sprinter to terrorize the peleton.  Thirty years ago a man known as the Tashkent Terror was much feared in his day by both cyclists and nearby inflatable Coke bottles:

We have enough hazards in bike racing to slaughter ourselves and prevent procreation, thank you very much, without help.  A local at Leonardtown begs to differ on that matter.  He'd like bike racing to be more dangerous, and yesterday achieved just that, by seeding the Leonardtown Criterium course with tacks that sent a number of riders down and to the hospital.

Four years ago the same person, presumably, did the same thing, with the same deadly results:

Leonardtown Criterium Crash - Pro/1/2 Race from Bryan Vaughan on Vimeo.

That 2010 incident brought down Keck Baker and others (see discussion here).  It also occurred at Walkersville that year.

Here's one account of this year's Leonardtown incident from a teammate:
"As for the race (35+ 4/5), yep, it sounded like those tacks again. We were 21 laps down, eight to go, not terribly fast pace, I was sitting comfortably and beginning to think about moving to top 10 and staying there when the guy next to me went down on that tight 120 turn and slid across my nose. I just had time to realise I was flying away from my bike when my left shoulder hit the ground hard, followed by my helmet. Very luckily, nothing broken, but shoulder looks a bit ugly. Bit of road rash right elbow but legs and the rest of me untouched.

I was slightly concussed but was quickly clearing the fog when the very apologetic Long Foster dude who knocked me down came over with his tyre and a tack. He figured he must have picked it up the previous lap and blown when he leaned into the corner. He walked away; I got the ambulance and the cute nurse. I do believe there was another tack-related incident."
Tacks were found in other races in other categories throughout the day.  They took down a teammate in the cat 3 race.  His account:
"I just took a hard pull and roll to the back headed into the corner, saying hi to Billy from Veloworks on the way back. Five seconds later, Billy crashes in the acute angle corner directly in my line, and of course I go over him. After the race, Billy (nice kid) shows me the tack in his rear tire."
 My FB feed was flooded with images like this:
And this:
And this:
I'm not sure if these were related to or caused by the tacks, but in any case, the wounds are there.

There's been some talk of not going back to Leonardtown.  That's a shame.  After the tack incident of 2010, in 2011 I made a point of going there.  I felt like avoiding the race would've been akin to giving in to terrorists.  I wrote about it here.

There was something about the place that I really liked--its commitment to the memory of fallen soldiers included a monument to those who fell in "the global war on terror."
DC doesn't even have a monument for this.

I can't say I'm looking forward to racing Leonardtown in 2015.  I'll probably be even more out of shape and possibly even more risk averse.

But if Patuxent Velo holds the race, I'll be there.  I may be too weak and timid to join the global war on terror and I may also be too weak and timid to take on the Tashkent Terror, but I can get off my ass, get some thorn-proof tubes, and face the Tacktown Terror.

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