Noooooooooooo — Yes!
Today was a new stage for the Redlands Classic and was rumored to cause a stir in the difficulty factor in the race. Typically in the past Redlands was basically over when we got to the top of Oak Glen (Friday). That was the main difficulty of the stages and thus was basically over at this point. This race caused a stir for a different reason. Wreaking havoc in other ways was the order of the day but not because the course was hard. It was hard but it was for what was on the course that caused the issues.
Only 10 k into the stage we turned into a severe cross wind with the group breaking up into smaller groups. Almost immediately a rider got a piece of recap tire, that came off a truck, lodged in his fork and instantly snapped his fork off at his front brake. He had NO chance to react and was on the deck in a split second. I think two or three guys went down in this trap. Worse yet was the fact that two of them did not flinch at all when we passed knowing our riders were not involved. I was stunned and felt sorrow for them.
Later in the day it was another one that involved at least 30 to 40 guys. Unfortunately three of our guys went down. Damon was up instantly but had a destroyed tired from a 100 meter skid. Robbie was also down but he saw the worst. Dave Z hit the deck hard and I later heard another rider now known to be Marino Fredick, hit Dave’s head and Marino flipped and broke his collar bone.
Robbie was screaming for Lorenzo as Dave looked really bad. Dave was bleeding badly and not moving. On the plus side, he was more or less coherent and talking. He was surely in tons of pain and shortly was air lifted out (with one other rider in this melee).
We knew Dave was in good hands (with air service shortly to arrive). So we got in the car and tried to catch back up to the rest of the guys to help them and tell them Dave was (sort of) all right and had been well attended to. We caught up to Robbie first as he was last of our guys to get back on his bike. He is a real friend and teammate to Dave. He waited for Dave and thoughts or the race and racing at this point in time no longer mattered. When we told Robbie how Dave was doing (better than he initially looked) Robbie broke out in a huge sigh of relief. Screaming YES! Thank GOD! Team cohesion is important but you could see by his reaction that Dave was more than just a team mate. We all felt the same.
We later learned that Dave had tons of road rash covering much of his body, two small bruises on his head, a deep gouge on the side of his face. But lucky that nothing was broken. Not to make light of the fact that Dave is hurt really bad. Because he is. But glad he is better than we imagined as he appeared to be immediately after the crash. I too did not care much about the race as I sat there looking at Dave suffering in pain. I don’t go to church nor do I really practice religion. But today I thank the Lord for his watchful eye over Dave because it could have been worse (and it did look worse than it was).
All I could think of was ……..NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Followed by (echoing Robbie) a resounding YES, Thank God he is not critically hurt!!!!!!!!!
Dave Z…..Wishing you a speedy recovery.
Big props go out to all of the team riders attending to their fallen team mates including but not limited to Russell Hamby who waited for his guy who went down until his team mate got proper attention. It is just a bike race. There are more to come. One race is not so important to not wait for your injured friends.