Smitty's Impact Assessment

“Are you okay Dave?”

“I don’t know, just take photos.”

As I was lying on the bike path, trying to work out what was broken, my friend Peter didn’t even have time to tell me that my bike was okay.

The internal dialogue was along the lines of, ‘you have broken ribs, and that will make Sunday’s race painful, that bar tape was pretty new, hope there isn’t a hole in my shorts, it’s another 20km to the café, …’

The driver of the van that spun a U-turn in front of me was in tears. The driver of the van that was driving on a bike path that is. He hugs me, far too tightly, and Peter and I ride off. So what do I do next? Home is 10 minutes away, and the café is 45 minutes away on gravel roads. So off we go to the café to decide if it’s too painful to ride.

...that bar tape was pretty new, hope there isn’t a hole in my shorts

Skip ahead 18 hours, and I’m having an x-ray to confirm what I know from the sleepless night and stabbing pain when I cough. Or laugh. Or breathe. The doctor asks if I’m still going to do the 150km Jeroboam gravel race the following day. Actually, he didn’t ask that, but if he knew I was planning to ride, he might have asked that.

Skip ahead another 18 hours, and I’m at the magnificent Can Campolier, home of Rocacorba cycling and start of the race. The acclaim of my peers for riding with broken ribs is outnumbered by the peers who have some degree of common sense who think it’s a ludicrous idea to start. I can start and see how it goes. It will be painful, but it won’t get any more painful, unless I crash, which I’m not planning to do. Skip ahead 4 hours, and I was right, it didn’t get more painful, it just stayed painful. Very painful.

There was a relaxed feel to my upper body that let my lungs do their thing

But here’s the thing, (SOUND THE OVERTLY BIASED SALES KLAXON), if I kept my hands on the tops of my Wave bars, the pain was reduced. Greatly. There was a relaxed feel to my upper body that let my lungs do their thing. I knew the next section was as rocky as rocks can be, so I stopped for coffee and cake, chopped off part of the course, and rode towards the finish - 110km completed, no harm done, lol.

Skip ahead 4 weeks, and I’m writing this, not smug from bravado, but embarrassed by stupidity. Despite the suffer culture in cycling, the reality is that no one cares or is impressed by anyone continuing to ride when injured, especially when it’s not your job.

I’m sure my peers probably just thought I was dumb. They were right. But damn it, those comfy Wave bars made it smart to be dumb…

~ Dave Smith, for Coefficient Cycling

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