No matter how hard you train, how much you prepare, or what you do, in cycling, you are never in full control! Crashing is part of cycling and you can’t control that. Over the years, however, I’ve actually developed a knack for falling, a good reliable tuck and roll position that keeps me as safe as possible. I started Route de France feeling strong, feeling I had everything in control, but it was during Stage Three I had to tuck and roll when trouble snuck up behind me.
I started stage three feeling confident after finishing 2nd on Stage Two. I was on good form, feeling powerful, maintaing a good position in the bunch, and felt like everything was in control. I’ve come to accept that crashing is part of cycling, so when I heard the familiar commotion behind me I didn’t panic. I was relieved it was behind me and figured I was safe. Then I felt a massive tug on the back of my bike!
Suddenly I was yanked backwards into the tidal wave of crashing riders. Someone’s handlebars had caught in the spokes of my back wheel and before I knew it I was tucking and rolling. There were girls screaming and crying but, after a quick assessment, I figured my tuck and roll had served me well. We were near the edge of the road so, luckily, I landed on the grassy shoulder instead of the cement and avoided any road rash. I had hit my hand on the sharp teeth of someone’s crank but, since I could wiggle my swollen fingers, I wiped away the blood, and decided I would finish the race.
After getting a new back wheel from our speedy mechanic, Yves, I chased back into the race. As I got back into the action of the bunch and we were approaching the finishing circuit, I realised all was not as it had seemed during my initial assessment after the crash. The “grassy” shoulder where I landed was actually stinging nettles and I was prickling and stinging all over. I thought I had just cut and bruised my hand but when each bump in the road sent shudders of pain up my hand, I knew it was something more serious!
I managed to finished the race and afterwards, the race paramedics confirmed my hand was in bad shape. I was sent straight to the hospital where I was diagnosed with a stable brake of my 5th metacarpal bone in my hand. The tooth on the crank I hit had pierced my skin and stabbed the bone beneath, braking it in the process. My tour was over!
You can do everything right in cycling but you are never in control. You can even do everything right when things are going wrong, but you’re still never in control! I’ve learned that each obstacle has a purpose, and learning that has taught me the one thing I can control is my attitude. Sticks and stones can brake your bones (or in my case cranks) but they can’t brake your spirit!
Just like my tuck and roll maneuver, when an unexpected obstacle comes at me, holding tight to my positive spirit allows me to keep moving forward, no matter what, in the best way possible.