Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"I Can't Do A Wheelie": A Giro di San Francisco p/1/2 race report

by Nils Tikkanen

Like a victim in an abusive relationship, I come back to this sadistic race every year. The pavement keeps getting worse, and its end-of-season nature raises the stakes and thus brings out some pretty fierce and somewhat questionable bike handling. This years, the Giro di SF would really get the best of me.

I had nerves while warming up, and I could feel it in my stomach (I'm sure the massive Dim Sum brunch at Yank Sing did nothing to alleviate that feeling). I hoped this feeling would vanish when the whistle blew. I had a great race at CCCX #2 two days earlier and was hoping to end the season well; that said, I was humbled at Vacaville the prior weekend but was hoping that my experience there would help me perform better this weekend.

The first three laps or so, I felt very comfortable, and managed to stay comfortable and keep myself in a good position. I was feeling surprisingly good, and looking forward to a strong, smart race. Then another lap came, and it would be another time over the abysmal pavement on the downhill + tailwind back stretch of the course. But as it turns out, it would be only one more time.

I hit some especially evil pavement, and then I remember the sensation that my front wheel had come off the ground...except that I was going towards the pavement and had lost complete control of my bike. I was more surprised and confused than anything else. I went forward and left, hitting my palm, then flipped over and slid on my right arm. It felt slow motion, but the guy behind me (who fortunately got around without incident) later said it looked almost instantaneous.

When I gratefully realized my collarbone was intact and went to collect my bike and survey the damage, it was immediately apparent what caused the crash:

It's hard to control your bike when the wheel's no longer attached.

Damage report:
* totalled frame
* two cracked Zipp 808 tubulars
* mangled handlebars
* road rash on my left palm and most of my right arm and shoulder

Given the nature of the crash, I'm lucky to not have broken anything. I'll have a new bike soon, but I think my season's now officially over.


Vladan said...

man, it is amazing that you came out almost uninjured from this accident. you are made of steel. I saw you just before leaving, at the lap 3 and not after that, thought you flatted. Stay positive, you've had a great season, we are all happy to see you racing with the pros.


Jim Langley said...

Like Vlada said, Nils - incredible you didn't eat it bad. I'm very happy for you but sad to see your trashed bike. Maybe those race promoters need to do something about the course being so bad it breaks bicycles?!

Great job this season!!

Nils said...

Jim, it's interesting you mention that... they should definitely raise awareness about the condition of the course. One of my friends, a flyweight juniors racer who can't be any more than 100 pounds, cracked a Zipp 404!

Winona said...

Did someone shoot the bike to take it out of it's misery? Tragic photo. Glad you're ok Nils! Winona