Doug Slater

2018 Tour de Rocky Top - Doug Slater

I have an allegory for race day from the director's perspective. It's like playing Lemmings. 

  Figure 1: Lemmings leaping to their doom

Figure 1: Lemmings leaping to their doom

What is Lemmings? It's an old DOS video game in which bipedals walk inexhorably in the direction they're told, usually toward a hazardous cliff edge. The player must build structures, dig holes, and remove obstacles before the lemmings arrive, often by mere seconds. If the player fails, the poor things tumble to their death.

I did not ride this event. Instead, I volunteered. I played Lemmings. I only had one job: to stand ahead of a dangerous curve at mile 6 on Neubert Springs, wave an orange flag, and bellow, "Be careful! Go slow! Don't crash!” RaceDayEvents also placed warning signs at this spot. Last year there had been two crashes. Thanks to these preemptive measures, this year there were none. We gave each other a high-five.

After Neubert Springs, I spent the rest of the morning riding around and chatting with the race director. I gained insight into the business and logistics of running a race.


  Figure 2: Hanging out with RaceDayEvents

Figure 2: Hanging out with RaceDayEvents

Why didn't I ride the 85-mile route as planned? On Sunday, July 1, I crashed my bike, and badly. After an ambulance ride and three CT scans, I was informed that I had achieved a "minorly displaced clavicular fracture". Believe me: the pain, discomfort, and disappointment have not been "minor". 

From my previous experiences as a runner, such as failing to qualify for Boston twice, I am well prepared to handle disappointment. I will be out of training for an undefined number of weeks. As soon as it is safe, I will do my best to maintain fitness. I've developed some ideas with my coach and already executed on some. I'm also taking a boatload of supplements.

There are a few implications from my wreck other than not riding TdRT. I will probably forfeit Storm the Fort. Most significantly, I will not participate in my season target race, IRONMAN Chattanooga. However, thanks to the transfer program, instead of forfeiting my $800 registration, I was able to transfer to November 3's IRONMAN Florida. This buys me four and a half weeks.

Please allow me to recommend to you the following improvements over my disastrous ride:

    1. Maintain excellent grip on the handlebars. My crash was caused by my hands slipping forward on the handlebars while braking. I reflexively gripped tighter, unintentionally slamming on the brakes. The rear wheel lifted, and I was dumped over the handlebars. I did not wear gloves on this ride, and if I had I might not have crashed. 

    2. Remember that triathlon bikes are extremely twitchy. If that had been on my mind, I would have not braked as aggressively. My weight was already forward, and I was easy to dump.