|Artwork Courtesy of James Billiter|
Nate was stale fish on the ground. They already had a collar around his neck. I looked back, with his arms at his side, his legs shook. Shock I presumed. Fuck man, just fuck. I wasn’t angry. I feared the worst. I didn’t want to make that phone call. Someone handed me his glasses. I snagged his Garmin off his bike and tucked both in my jersey pocket. Gerri helped getting a plan together. I hopped on my bike with inoperable brakes and coasted back to the start to collect my grid bag and thoughts.
As of this Monday morning, Nate spent the night at U of L Hospital. An MRI showed a fractured vertebra in his upper spine. Thankfully, he can move all his parts. He was alert, coherent and concerned about his bike. Despite complaining of intense shoulder pain, the news sounded somewhat positive. Granted the possibility of surgery and rehab still looms, at the moment it appears our buddy Nate escaped the most serious of injuries. Looking at his bike and helmet, it looks as if he sprinted into a wall at 30mph. When I put the bike on my roof rack, the drivetrain was in the 53x17 gear.
|Derby City Cup Masters Wreck 1 by Kent Baumgardt|
I saw the wreck unfold firsthand. Despite the ruckus over the large mixed fields at the MudFund Derby City Cup, I don’t think those things had anything to do with it. It was the simplest thing really. A rider hooked a wheel at the front which cascaded into a chain reaction full-gas pile up.
I personally knew 90% of the riders in the first four rows, and at least two more rows behind me. Look at the call up list for Wave 6. Granted not everyone on the list started, but all of those guys at the front, masters and juniors, are good riders. Most of them I’d equate with sticklers for etiquette. They know to hold a line and not to make unpredictable moves. With the callups based on points, at least the first 8 rows were sorted by speed. Additionally, throughout the last two weekends with Cincy3, every junior I raced with passed cleanly. Between a bunch of USGP’s and Worlds, most of these guys have done this same long paved Louisville start at least 10 times.
|Derby City Cup Masters Wreck 2 by Kent Baumgardt|
|Derby City Cup Masters Wreck 3 by Kent Baumgardt|
|Front end of Nate's bike caved in|
At the whistle, a rider in front of me was a little slower off the grid, nothing unusual. That held me up for a fraction of a second. I got around on the right. Clicking through gears, I remember seeing the two sides of the front open up. The middle held more traffic. Feeling the flow of the race drift to the left, I was now out of the saddle sprinting maybe just left of center.
I saw the hook slightly ahead of me and just to my left. A rider in front moved slight right to left and snagged the wheel in front of him. I honestly can’t recall even a jersey color and would rather not speculate. As he fell to the left, he went into someone else coming up from behind. Those two went down and collected a 3rd rider. Three riders and bikes slid across the pavement in front of me.
|Chris King Headset Cracked|
Then the impacts came, seemingly endless, one by one. Oof. Ugh. I caught a glimpse of Nate’s kit on my right. Mmmph. Ugh. The weight of people on top of me compounded. I heard a young man scream out. Frames dug into my hip and body. They just kept coming, hitting, landing, rolling over. I worried about being crushed. Boom. Bam. I could hear the crowd gasp. My teammates Steven and Mike, starting more to the left, avoided the serious wreck, but got caught up in the course fencing. Both got free and continued racing.
|Crack halfway through downtube at BB|
It seemed like minutes passed, but I’m sure it was only seconds. I was able to wriggle out from underneath. Nate still lay on his back, I think propped half on top of a bike. I found my bike along the fence. The rear wheel had come out of the drops. I fixed that, but couldn’t reattach the brake cables. My front brake pads were stuck under the lip of the rim. I was done. That’s when I turned to see Nate. The sight made me sick with worry. I couldn’t leave him.
While Nate does have insurance, copays and deductibles for a serious visit to the ER probably wasn’t in the fall budget. Not to mention, his custom Indy Fab Planet X is ruined. A fund has been set up to help him out. I’m sure he’d appreciate your generosity. Click here for more information.