Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Racing to win

In 2007, I rode Lotoja for the first time. The guys who raced it were on another level, or so I thought. After conquering the distance, I wanted to go faster. To go faster, I needed faster people to ride with. So my brother and I signed up as Cat. 5 annual license holders. We went faster. We wanted to go faster still, so we signed up as Cat. 4 annual license holders. Problem was, we weren't Cat. 4s yet, so we needed to race enough to get the upgrade. Steve finished on the podium but before that happened, we discovered there were a lot more worthwhile races out there than just Lotoja. Last year he convinced me we should race to win not just our category but the whole thing. I finished on the podium. Had a few things played out just a little differently, either one of us could have won. And having tasted that, if I race again, I want to race to win.

Problem is, Steve won't be racing this year. This was going to be our fifth year. We'd get out Lotoja 1000 and I'd be done with the race (not sure about Steve). Without Steve, I'm having a hard time mustering the motivation to race. My fitness is good. I think I could be competitive, if I could just get my head in a place where I want to compete. It's not, nor am I sure it will be.

Friday, August 12, 2011

An update

Busy week between work, chasing down insurance companies*, working on some professional development, family, and trying to follow a bit of the Tour of Utah, but given that many of the people asking about Steve are people that read this blog, taking a few minutes for a post now may save a few minutes more down the road.

*Remember in The Incredibles how Mr. Incredible, before he returned to super hero life, got fired from his day job for actually paying out insurance claims? Well I have been dealing with a real-life person who would probably be the ideal employee at Mr. Incredible's fictional company. I don't think she realizes that the more resistance she puts up to making a claim, the more committed I become to ensuring that they pay the claims. Even if it turns out that her company is only on the hook for $1.00, I'll see that it's paid.

Steve went home from the hospital on Monday. He's still in pain and needs a lot of rest, but he's improving day by day. Not sure when he'll get back to work, and even though he's shaved his legs, I suspect he'll be a while getting back on the bike. Which is good, because I still need to get his bike put back together so he has something to ride.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


The blog has been a little quiet, or rather a little more quiet than normal, lately. My apologies. Last week I was on vacation, which was awesome, and which is what I really want to be writing about today.

My second day back from vacation, Tuesday, I met up with Alex for an after-work dirt session in Millcreek Canyon. I had thought about racing RMR to help get my legs ready for the Bikes4Kids stage race this weekend. But Millcreek with Alex sounded a lot more fun than riding circles at RMR, so that's where I went. Unbeknownst to me, my brother, who doesn't really like the RMR course and usually skips it in favor of DMV, was out there racing.

The ride was pleasant enough. Humid from the recent rain, but lots of flowers blooming and nice tacky trails. At the top of the saddle above Park City, the one place in the entire canyon where you get a phone signal, my phone started ringing.

It was my teammate Adam. Steve had been in a bad crash at RMR, and they were trying to reach his wife. Details were scarce, but I called her, gave her the number of the other teammate who was with Steve and would know what hospital he had been taken to, and then I made a B-line down the canyon* to the hospital.

*Sidebar rant: Millcreek Canyon has the highest asshole quotient of any trail network anywhere I have ever been. Not once but twice on my descent, after I had either slowed and pulled to the side or come to a complete stop and moved to the side to yield to uphill traffic, I had riders change course to move in my direction, the one when I had stopped actually making contact, both of them clearly overdoing it on making their point that downhill riders are supposed to yield to uphill traffic. It was enough to make me wonder how they intended to get down if not by the trails. Even though I was in a hurry to get to the hospital, I delayed my descent to give them the right of way. And yet, somehow I didn't delay quite enough for their satisfaction. I wonder if they realize that such behavior makes me less inclined, not more, to be as courteous as possible to other trail users. The experience still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I got to the hospital to learn that Steve had collided head on with the Tuff Shed that is on the course at RMR at about 50kmh. His ribs and sternum were fractured, but the internal injuries to his organs and brain were the real concern. After quite some time in the waiting room, we were allowed into the ICU to see him.

During these few hours, I watched a community spring into action. Aaron and Chantel went back to RMR, sans car keys, but assuming they'd figure something out, and got Steve's car and brought it to the hospital. Cam and Jake sat patiently waiting well into the night, not to see Steve, but just to be ready in case anyone needed anything. Alex sent me tidbits providing additional context for Steve's injuries. Daren and Dave H. called to see how Steve was doing and what we needed, and I remained busy in the waiting area fielding phone calls, text messages, and emails.

Steve made progress through the night, and at about 2:00 a.m., the nurse told us to go home and get some sleep. I brought Marco back in the morning, and although Steve was still asleep, they had removed the breathing tube. His neurologist updated us on his condition: the brain injury was not as bad as originally feared, and he was optimistic Steve would make a full recovery. Big sigh of relief. He's got a long and painful recovery ahead of him, but he's steadily improving and will get there with time.

I cannot count the various offers of help and expressions of concern we have received from other cyclists. It seems the guys we work the hardest against in the races have also been the most anxious to help. I'm happy to report that Steve's immediate needs are being met--he is receiving excellent care at the hospital, and his wife and kids are taken care of and in good spirits.

Rachel and I often joke that going to a bike race is like going to a family reunion because we see so many people that we love and care about. The outpouring we have received since Steve's crash has prompted us to drop "like" from that comparison. Thank you so much for your care and concern.