Meatface Crit recap and surgical reconstruction

January 30, 2013 § 15 Comments

“There was a bad crash in the Cat 5 race,” is one of those things that’s kind of redundant. Cat 5 crashes always seem to be bad.

Perhaps the riders haven’t learned to fall yet, so they get hurt worse.

Or perhaps the riders not immediately involved haven’t learned to stay upright yet, so they domino into a meatpile whereas better riders in higher categories avoid the wreckage.

It’s also possible that the really terrible riders all die, get maimed, or are banned from further race participation by their wives, leaving the pool in the upper categories better and safer.

Maybe the longer you do it, the more cautious you become. (Naaaahhh.)

But when “There was a bad crash in the Cat 5 race” is followed by “and the dude got a hundred stitches,” you’ve entered a new realm of bad crashes.

The coup de grace? You ask, “Where did he get the stitches?”

The bearer of bad tidings blanches a little and says “In his face.”

This leaves you scratching your head trying to imagine what kind of face even has enough real estate to accommodate that many sutures. Somebody with a face like a horse? The only person like that is Mark Cavendish, and he’s no Cat 5.

Welcome to the 2013 Mothballs Criterium in Goleta

Held the day after the PCKRR road race (alternately pronounced “pucker” or “pecker”), my Cat 5 buddy Dave Holland was going great guns on the last lap of the crit. As he came into the final turn, some dude (it’s always “some dude”) came over on him.

In any other race, this is where you would expect the unexpected, in other words, you’d expect the recap to go something like this: “So the dude comes over on me and takes me into the curb and crashes me out.”

Or: “So the dude comes over on me and clips my front wheel and crashes me out.”

Or: “So the dude comes over on me and slides out and crashes me out.”

Or: “So the dude chops my wheel and I veer to avoid him and that takes me out.”

Right. We’ve all been there. It’s one of those scenarios, or at least it would be in a regular race.

But not a Cat 5 race. In a Cat 5 race, you expect the unexpected, then wake up to a parallel universe connected to ours only through the most tenuous and twisting and labyrinthine of wormholes.

Because here’s what happened: “So the dude comes over on me and his rear wheel comes out of his bike and crashes me out.”

Just the sound of those words reorients your brain as your logic motor begins screaming silently at you. “His rear wheel came out? How is that even possible? Did he break a chain while riding a fixie that wasn’t bolted into the track dropouts? Did his rear triangle shatter? Was he riding one of those bikes that only has half a rear triangle?”

But then you remember. “Oh, yeah, it’s Cat 5 racing. Not only can anything happen, shit can happen that can’t even happen, like having your rear wheel come out in the middle of the turn.”

Not “rear wheel flatted” or “rear tire blew out” or “rear wheel collapsed” or “rear wheel locked up,” because all of that fits somewhere, somehow. No, in a Cat 4 race it makes perfect nonsense that the rear wheel came out. Happens all the time. That’s why I carry my Rear Wheel Putter-Inner Tool in my saddle bag when I race Cat 5.

Then it all makes sense. Dave could have added “And these little green men hopped out of the dude’s back jersey pocket and started hacking my face with harvest scythes while singing Russian folk songs” and it wouldn’t have been out of place at all. You would have just nodded and asked if the pictures were up yet on Facebook.

You can’t keep a good face down

When Dave kissed the pavement face-first at speed, his skin and everything attached to it came ripping apart.

“Yeah, man,” said one eyewitness a couple of days later as we chatted before the start of the NPR. “When they peeled his fucking face off the asphalt it didn’t even look like Dave. It was just this pulpy goo with a tongue, some teeth, and pair of eyes sticking out. It was fucking gnarly.”

And another: “He was majorly fucked up. But Peyton got second in the sprint, which was awesome.”

Then another witness added the comment that made it the trifecta of Cat 4 crash reports: “His bike was okay, thank Dog. That was a new frame.” Because every Cat 5 would rather get a hundred stitches in his face and have his face lifted from the pavement with a spatula than have to pay retail for a new frame.

As you inquire, cringing, about whether he’ll ever be the same, the third eyewitness looks at you like you’re crazy. “Aw, hell yeah. He’ll be fine.”

“How can you say that? One hundred stitches in his face? Is he still in the hospital?”

“Naw, man, that was two days ago. They stitched him up good as new. He just looks like a little bit like a jigsaw puzzle and kind of puffy like a rotten tomato.”

“But how can you say he’ll be okay?”

“Dude, he’s a fucking Cat 5. I talked to him yesterday. He’s already back on the trainer. Case closed.”

Yeah. It sure is.


§ 15 Responses to Meatface Crit recap and surgical reconstruction

  • bill stevenson says:

    I’m gonna get one of those putter inner tools. Are they like metric or american?

  • Albacore says:

    Pictures/video or it didn’t happen.

  • David Holland says:

    Well Seth, you got it mostly right – Except it was a cat 5 race!

    Thanks so much to Hugo Solano and Jonathan Paris of the Bike Palace team for
    taking care of me, collecting my stuff, taking my bike, and meeting my wife at
    the ER with the accident report and directions. What a great sport to have such
    caring people to race with… it is pretty emotional to think about how much
    they went out of their way to help me when they only just met me and could so
    easily left the care to the race officials. DAMN… Good people!

    More complete info on my crash (or at least what I can piece together):

    First off, the race course was too easy. No elevation in the course to
    differentiate the riders fitness level. My heart rate never hit even threshold
    levels – so everyone was bunching up, fighting too hard for position and, I
    suppose, thinking they could win and taking chances to do so.

    Then the drama: last turn of the race – all this is told to my by Hugo as I have
    no memory of it – a kid took the inside turn, clipped his pedal and lost his
    back wheel. Another guy tried to avoid the pedal kid and went left into a right hand turn. He went sideways into Hugo, and as I was on Hugo’s wheel, he crossed right in front of me. I don’t even think I touched my brakes. So
    I ran him over and ejected over the bars, landing on my right shoulder and right
    side of my face. I was out and remember nothing until talking to the nurse in
    the ambulance, and I was trying to figure out why I was in Santa Barbara and how
    was my wife going to come up from Culver City to get me… duh – she was with me
    in Santa Barbara (so I was pretty confused)

    100 stitches later and a few days of rest, and I think I got off lucky. It could have easily been broken bones or a spinal injury. As it is I have no soreness, and just road rash of face. My eyeglasses caused the gash just above my right eye. So, there it is…. Wank on…

    • Admin says:

      Glad to see that I got the most important part wrong!

      Glad that you’re okay…sort of okay…not dead or maimed, at least!

      I recommend prescription racing glasses with plastic frames made by SPY Optic. No nasty gashes.

      I also recommend parcheesi, or golf.

      See you on the NPR!

  • vavoom says:

    ouch! hope he gets well soon.

    • Admin says:

      He will get well physically, but as his recent comment shows, the mental aspect is probably beyond repair.

  • David Holland says:

    Video: see the last 30 sec or so

  • Erik says:

    As a fellow Cat5 we get chastized all the time on club night when someone blames the sprunt crash (if there’s a sprunt, there’s a crash) on the course being too easy. The more experienced guys (who wouldn’t risk their lives racing with us) always tell us: Attack, attack, attack. Cash all your checks, or go bankrupt trying.

  • Robert Efthimos says:

    Some things you should know about Dave:

    1. He’s one of the nicest guys you can meet out on the road and one of the most cerebral. Seriously, half the time his Strava ride titles reference some philosopher, sociologist or some other smart dead guy I’ve never heard of.

    2. He’s a high school teacher and track coach, so unlike the rest of us selfish SOB’s, he actively gives back to his community.

    3. He’s got a bit of a screw loose and racks up more miles that you can imagine. Even with the last week off the bike and his teaching/coaching commitments, he’s logged almost 1,800 miles this month alone – which puts him at #32 worldwide in the current Strava Base Miles Challenge. Oh yeah, that’s out of over 46,000 participants.

    4. He emailed me just yesterday to see if I wanted to head down to SD this weekend to run the Fiesta Island time trial. Yeah, who would let 100 stitches in the face keep them off their bike for a few days? Did I mention he has a bit of a screw loose?

  • David Holland says:

    My students love my stitches – street cred!

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