credit: ed hood pezcyclingnews.com
thursday night was the first race around the queens park savannah. i think its about a 4k loop. 6 wide fast turns. racing was pretty fast, but most if not all of the euros were working together, so keeping a chase going was quite a task. i came out of the field to try for a preme once, i was on the wheel of a local rider who was behind daniele defranchesci. daniele started to drop the local guy then jumped hard and i was too far off the wheel to close. after that i sat in and waited to the final sprint. i messed the last turn, hit a bunch on reflectors in the road and just managed to finish in the main group. a break finished about 10 seconds up the road.
one day off with a nice group ride in the back roads before the first night of track racing at skinner park. i started to feel a bit sick, but i took something to settle my tummy, we loaded the bikes in a truck, got in the bus, and drove two hours to san fernando, skinner park.
the velodrome is really flat. really really flat, and kinda shaped like a backwards 'D'. the early races were fast and a little dicey. i was testing the legs, chasing breaks, trying to set up^some of our sprinters. and generally having fun. during intermission we signed autographs for fans. the crowds were amazing. then the feature race of the night was called the 45 lap survivor. basically a 45 lap scratch but theres a sprint on the 1st lap for $2000 tt but you have to finish within 15 seconds of the first finisher to keep it. the argentines boxed us out at the gun and set up a sprinter but i somehow snaked around and won the sprint with a bike throw. then the other u.s. guys chased down all the breaks and i finished top ten with no one off the front. dan harm is going pretty well and did a lot of the work.
so the next day was the race at the arima velodrome. its more of a real track. with 2 straights, banking in the turns and shaped like an oval. its 500m long tho. with some killer wind on the back straight. so after some bmx races and sprint qualifying(where chiappa set a new track record) we lined up for our first race. 12 lap scratch. with the nasty wind i was too concerned with something getting away, but there were some strong euros at the front drilling it and stinging things out. i had bad positioning in the neutral lap, so i fought my way towards the front in a few laps. about half way thru the field bunched up in turn one. down the back straight a jamaican rider came down track across leif lampater's front wheel as he was looking below him and he fell down right in front of me. i looked up track, down track, up again, but there was no where to go. i hit him with my front wheel and was sent flying over the bars 270 in the air and landed pretty well tucked but flat on my back. a split second later i was hit from behind by another rider then the commotion of carbon, metal, concrete, and flesh subsided.
i sat up and looked behind to make sure no one else was coming to run into me. i checked my shoulders to see if i had broken either of my collar bones. sweet, they were both in tact. i then tried to get up, but the wind was a little knocked out of me and it was a little hard. my back felt like it was cramping. when i tried a little harder. it felt more like a stabbing pain. at that point medics came over to try to get me off the track and i started to yell as i realized something might be wrong, my back, my back. backs and necks usually tend to freak medics out. so they left me there for a second and flagged the ambulance my way.
i was eventually, not so gracefully put on to a backboard, they very not gracefully driven out of the velodrome and to the arima hospital. i was there for a few hours before i really received any attention other than for my information. i eventually received 3 stitches in my elbow, 2 of which promptly fell out. and they told me they were going to send me home because there x-ray machine was down, and that i would have to go to another hospital tomorrow. i told them that that was not really going to work for me since i COULD NOT MOVE. really. i could no move my lower back at all. after a couple more hours they decided they would drive me by ambulance to the hospital with an xray. the hold up was that they only had one ambulance, so i was in the queue but had gotten bumped my someone who just had a heart attack in the waiting room.
so at the other hospital, there was a lot more crowding and everybody seemed to be in a bad mood. the staff were even bickering. there was water dripping from the ceiling into 3 buckets on the floor in the trauma ward. i had gotten moved around in to hallways and corners ad back a few times, the staff seeming to disagree about almost everything going on. there were patients yelling at the staff for seemingly no reason. and then out of no where some hope. a man named mark thomas. his son was racing at the track in the bmx races. and he was just starting a double shift at the hospital. he told me he would take care of me. both erin hartwell (who had been with me the majority of this time already) an d i were were very relieved. things still moved very slowly.
i eventually received my xray. it initially looked fine, but then a specialist noticed a small chip in a vertebrae. i was then to have a ct scan. that revealed that there were small fractures in the vertebrae, but i would have to wait to talk to a specialist in the morning. at some point, someone asked how long i had been on the hard back board. i think it was approaching 7 hours now. so they finally moved me on to the almost just as hard hospital bed. in the middle of the night a girl came in to the trauma room next to me. she had been in a car crash, being the passenger in a car that hit a telephone pole. the broke her right leg. left ankle and fractured her neck. she was not a happy camper. later when i was finally nodding in and out of sleep. someone came and was moving me out of the trauma area. i wasnt sure where or why. they eventually stuck me in an exam room crowded with 5 other patients who were very ill looking and the room smelled very very foul. like decaying nastiness. there was a large man very nearly vomiting on top of me. i wasnt honestly sure if everyone in there was still even alive. i was in there a couple of hours before mark showed up and asked me what the hell i was doing in there and he promptly got me moved back to my old home in the corner of trauma. that was not very crowded at all. he yelled at some folks and then i got some more 'sleep' not afraid of catching a deadly decease.
in the morning i was told that i would probably heal just fine with 4-8 weeks of bed rest. i bought a back brace and got the fuck out of there asap. i actually felt better once i very carefully got up. with the brace i am surprisingly mobile, and have got very good at moving around isolating my hips from my lower back. iv even been to the beach a few times and hopefully when its time to fly home ill be feeling pretty ok.