Pro Crit Nationals and a big thank you

I was very excited to line up for my first professional national criterium championships on the evening of July 2nd. Louisville was a fantastic host city and my head was in the right place to go challenge myself and enjoy riding with the best in the business.

With 5 laps to go, I rounded a turn that ended up being disastrous for many riders that night. The rider I was behind managed to navigate around the wreck but when she pulled to the outside all I had time to see were bodies. Bodies standing up, bodies sitting down, and bodies lying sprawled on the ground. I had no time to react and rode directly into one of the rider’s wheels (she had crashed and her bike was sitting horizontal across the course) and I was catapulted from my bike. I’m in no way blaming the rider in front of me-she handled it fantastically-I just really had no way of seeing what I was about to run into with the position that I had.

The video above is the race livestream. If you go to 4:17:00 you can see the crash happen. Skip to 4:20:55 and you can see one of the people I’d like to thank in this post taking care of me-Stephie Nave.

One of the things that I learned by having my first major crash is that it takes a village to help you get back up. I was lying there crying out for help while riders were untangling themselves. I tried to roll off of the course because I knew that riders might come around again but I couldn’t. I was stranded there on the cement feeling helpless. So to the Texas Roadhouse rider who went and stood in front of me to prevent me from being impaled, thank you so much.

When a couple of volunteers pulled me out of the road, I was again lying there unsure of what was wrong. People I didn’t know were surrounding me and asking me all sorts of questions. At that point, a beautiful face that I recognized but couldn’t place leaned over me and said “It’s okay, I got you sweetie.” I saw her Ortho Carolina kit and new it was Stephie Nave. She stabilized my head until someone with medical training could get there. I never thought seeing someone’s face who routinely destroys me in crit races would be so comforting, but it was. Thank you Stephie.

Papa John’s, Rally, and me on the ground with my bike stealing the show. Photo by Tish Kelly.

My teammate’s father, Mark Harden can be seen on the livestream running to help me when he realized I was not with the peloton. The whole Harden family saved me this weekend. Not only did they let me crash (hmm-word choice?) at their Air BnB when my housing plans changed, but they also came to the hospital and stayed with me the entire time. They drove me to SC from KY because I couldn’t drive myself home. They carried all of my gear in, Izzie (my 14 year old teammate) helped get me into the arm sling, Kat (Izzie’s younger sister) gave up her bed to let me sleep in it overnight, Beth (Momma Harden) helped me with dressing and undressing and cooked for me, and Mark collected all of my gear that had been strewn across the race course and also drove my car back from KY. Thank you so much to a fantastic family.

My teammate, Danielle, went with me to the hospital in the ambulance and made sure I had a familiar face with me at all times. She kept my family updated and helped answer all of the insurance questions that I couldn’t speak loudly enough to answer. She helped with anything I needed while I was waiting to get x-rays done and was a huge support to me. Thank you, DC.

From left to right: Izzie, me, Danielle, and Austin at the Johnson City Omnium.

The final special thank you goes to my fiance, Dan. He cleared his patient schedule to fly to Greenville, SC and drive me home. We stopped at a QT on the drive home so that he could evaluate my shoulder (he’s a very talented Physical Therapist). We needed privacy so we went into the women’s bathroom handicap stall. After he tested a movement to see if it produced pain, I started getting very anxious, lightheaded, and dizzy. I was close to blacking out and told him I was passing out so he immediately grabbed me like he was doing the Heimlich and inched me backwards towards the toilet until I was safely sitting down. Thankfully, no one else was in there to witness that awkward event. That wasn’t the only episode I had today-I blacked out in the shower and he managed to stabilize me and get me to the ground before I fell. He is always there to support me, both literally and figuratively. After we got settled in, he bought groceries, bulk cooked for me, took my garbage out, did my dishes, and then sat down to study for his exam that he has tomorrow night (and that he didn’t get to study much for because he was flying to take care of me). I’m appreciative of you beyond words, Dan.

Dan’s proposal-he literally climbed a mountain to ask me to marry him.

There are so many other people to thank who reached out to check on me or to offer to help me. I am so appreciative of every message, comment, and call. I learned how vast my support network is through this ordeal and I am trying to focus on getting better and remembering the positives of this experience. The crash could have been much worse and I am lucky to have just a separated shoulder and no broken bones. Most of all, I’m fortunate to have you all. Thank you so much.

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