Providence Cyclocross Festival: Down But Not Out

Most of you know the end of this story by now. I have a broken hand. Two spiral fractures in my third and fourth metacarpals on my right hand to be exact. With two laps left to race, I seemed well-poised to ride myself onto the podium. Instead, I clipped a pedal on a root, hit the deck and earned myself a ride in an ambulance to the emergency room where x-rays confirmed the fractures.

I might be down but I’m not out. The injury is disappointing, of course – made even more disappointing by how strong I felt  – but I’m determined to come back ready to pick up where I left off on Saturday.

Last weekend in Gloucester, I knew I wanted to take the hole shot. This weekend, I decided I would back off a little bit. I planned a more conservative start. There were no super technical elements immediately after that start, so there was no sense of expending energy to lead the race early.

Although I didn’t want the hole shot, I did want to be near the front. Specifically, I wanted to follow Helen Wyman (Kona). I haven’t had the opportunity to follow sit on her wheel on a first lap yet, and I hoped to be close enough to give myself a chance to prevent her from opening a huge gap at the start. My plan didn’t unfold quite as I hoped. In backing off, I wasn’t aggressive enough off the line, and I slid into seventh or eighth wheel.

As gaps started opening, I passed a few people and eventually became part of a large chase group behind Helen. It was a strong group. In one of the early laps, we forced Julie Krasniak (Rapha-Focus) to sit on the front. Little Kaitie Antonneau came around to take a turn on the front, too.

In the longer sections, I would lay down a little more power, and I noticed that I would cause gaps whenever I did that. I spent more time on the front of the group when I realized the impact I was making. I wasn’t confident that I could beat the entire group in a sprint, so it was important to me to come to the line with as few riders as possible. At one point, I had whittled down our group to me, Julie, Kaitie and Lea Davison (Specialized).

(photo credit: Dave McElwaine)

As we headed into the final lap, I had a clear grasp on my plan. I intended to open it up on every single section I could. Piling on the power had already proved advantageous, and I knew if I could do it over and over and over again, I would do some real damage.

Then, I crashed – and I never got that chance.

I never saw the root that stuck up. I only learned about it post-race when someone else told me they had seen it in the slightly off-camber section where I crashed. The scene of my crash wasn’t especially technical or super steep, so I hadn’t given it much thought. It all happened so fast. I clipped my pedal, slid out and somehow my hand got tangled up in my bike. I knew immediately that I had broken my hand.

I didn’t even bother getting up and grabbing my bike because there was no point. I started crying right away, unable to choke back the tears – not because of the pain but because I so angry. I knew I was dealing with broken bones and a huge interruption to my season.

The paramedics made their way over to me quickly. They put me in a splint and a sling. Later, I learned that there were reports circulating that I had broken my collarbone. I didn’t. There was never any question that it was collarbone – but I guess the sling made people think otherwise. They loaded me up into a golf cart to take me to the ambulance.

Laura Low, one of the race organizers, intercepted my golf cart ride to ask me who would accompany to the hospital. When she learned I was solo, she insisted on keeping me company. I protested. It wasn’t her responsibility. In the end, I was so grateful to have her there. I would have totally broken down at the hospital if I had been alone.

The hospital was fantastic. Everyone I encountered was super friendly. One of the nurses recognized me as I was getting wheeled in the doors, and I think that expedited things slightly. I had x-xrays, learned the specifics about my break and met with a hand specialist.

My breaks are clean, so there’s a good chance that I won’t need surgery. I picked up my x-rays from the hospital today, and I’ll take them back to Boulder tomorrow where I have an appointment at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine. The hand specialist I saw yesterday said if I don’t need surgery, I can expect to be in a cast for four weeks. I’ll know more after my appointment tomorrow.

Because the break is clean, I’m not dealing with too much pain. There’s discomfort, but there’s not pain – unless I move my fingers.. This means I was able to sleep last night without too much trouble, and I don’t need any meds.

It’s a tough knock, but I know I can’t sit around and mope about it. That would only make everything worse. I’m already mentally preparing myself for a lot of trainer time. I’m sure the upbeat attitude I’m hoping to hold onto will ebb and flow throughout my recovery. There will definitely be days where I’ll break down and want to say ‘screw this!’ but I won’t let my injury get the best of me. There’s still enough season left that I can come back from a broken bone and finish strong.

While I might not be racing in Fort Collins next weekend for the second round of the USGP, I will definitely be ons site. I might be broken but Pretty in Pink is still going strong. Look for me in/around the Specialized tent where I’ll be selling Pretty is the New Fast apparel and raffle tickets.

Learn more about Pretty in Pink here.

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  1. Kelly
    Posted October 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Wish you a quick recovery!

  2. Chris Mapel
    Posted October 8, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Hello Meredith, sooooo sorry to hear about the crash in Prov. You had signed a Gloucester poster for my son Aiden just before your race and we were cheering you on during the race. You are a great ambassador for the sport of cross and we wish you the best and fast recovery. Get well and back on the bike soon.
    Chris and Aiden Mapel
    Southwick, MA

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