This whole last year I kept telling myself that with all my bad luck, I couldn’t wait for the year to be over. I pretty much quit blogging after June and my battle with Alexander the Grapefruit (not quite RIP but pretty much on his last leg … no pun intended). Looking back at the year though, I actually had what is definitely my best season on paper despite so many huge setbacks.
So here is the year in review starting with …
THE BAD (CRASHES)
Crash 1: The birth of Alexander
Alexander was/is a Morel Lavallée lesion which was fantastic because there’s literally nothing known about how to actually treat this type of injury. I basically spent several months with an ace bandage around my leg trying to smoosh Alexander into submission.
By the time I left for Cascade Classic (one of my favorite races of the year before which I was hit by a car in 2012) Alexander was about 50% smaller than when he was born. Little did I know that the best thing I could do to help get rid of him would happen during Stage 3 of Cascade Classic …
Crash 2: Punching Alexander in the Face
Despite having taken a lot of time off the bike going into Cascade, I was riding surprisingly well. I’d made the lead bunch over MacKenzie Pass and had finished a solid 7th in the TT which had me sitting 9th going into stage 3, the Cascade Lakes Road Race. I was sitting middle to front of the pack on a descent following Liza and Sophie when someone hooked Soph’s bars and took her, Liza, me, and about 20 other girls down in a massive pileup. I landed hard right on Alexander’s face and my left wrist and elbow. With the help of Jono, Niels, and Liza I managed to get on a new bike and chase back into the peloton and with the help of Emily, I finished with the pack … barely.
I went straight to the med tent and my leg was already starting to swell, badly. I wrapped the heck out of Alexander and figured my race was over. Amazingly, the next morning Alexander was smaller and the swelling in my leg was completely gone. Apparently I made the unintentional medical discovery that crashing again on a Morel Lavallée lesion can cause it to rupture and mostly go away.
You’re welcome, science.
Crash 3: I can’t believe I just f**king crashed again
This one was so f**king ironic and stupid.
I was racing our local Friday night track omnium and I had just finished bitching to one of the officials that I wasn’t going to race with the Cat 3 men because they had allowed a particularly sketchy and dangerous rider to return to racing after years of issues and causing a huge crash a few weeks prior. I decided to race with the women instead because in 4 seasons of racing on our track, I’d never seen a crash in the 1/2/3 women’s race. Not less than 3 minutes into the first race of the night, a 15 lap scratch, some non-local girl took out her own front wheel and crashed out 6 people, myself included.
Thanks to Dennis Crane for catching this amazing photo series of the crash which includes a bonus photo of me angrily gesturing towards the girl who caused the crash.
Even though this crash wasn’t bad, I did hit my head which sidelined me for a couple days.
Crash 4: Okay, this was totally my fault
I’m embarrassed to say that not more than a week after Coach Kendra scolded me for never training with gloves, I managed to crash on a recovery ride and land smack on my palms. My timing was impeccable since this was only 4 days before Starcrossed and Cross Vegas, two notoriously dry and bumpy races.
The best part about this crash was that I did it in the most dipshit way possible. I was riding no hands and trying to get a bottle back into my pocket when a light breeze or a pebble or something knocked me off my path.
Crash 5: Pretty sure I just broke every bone in my arm
November 30th was my favorite race of the year, Baystate CX in Sterling, MA. I love this course and had been looking forward to this race all year. I had what felt like a great start … for about 10 seconds. I was moving up the left side of the pack when I felt someone start pushing me hard on my right. I leaned back into her and kept my eyes forward. I thought I was in the clear when she came back into me so hard that I was pushed into someone else’s wheel and did a swan dive off my bike putting my arm through the orange fencing as I was flying through the air.
I have never been in such immediate and excruciating pain after a crash. I couldn’t move my left arm and had to support it with my right hand. I was taken away in an ambulance and given anti-nausea medication because the pain was making me physically ill. I was 100% certain that my shoulder was separated, my arm was broken in at least one place and that my CX season was over.
Amazingly, I managed to not break a single bone or separate my shoulder just further proving that vegans are actually invincible.
THE GOOD (RESULTS)
Looking back on all of these crashes could be extremely discouraging and upsetting if I hadn’t in fact had such an awesome year.
Good Result 1: Pro Nationals
Yes 5th or 3rd would have been better but after 18th last year and a lot of illness going into Nationals I was pleased as punch to finish in the top 10 and surrounded by very good company.
Good Result 2: Cascade Classic
Despite being low on fitness and training volume and despite Crash 2, I rode well at Cascade. I had a good ride for 7th in the TT and even got a nice nod from Cycling News. Even after the crash I still finished 10th which was a better result than I had hoped for given my injuries, fitness, and the crash.
Good Result 3: National Champion Baby!
With literally (not figuratively, literally) no team pursuit experience, my dear friend Ruth Winder had enough faith in me to ask me to be on her team pursuit team for nationals. This was a calculated risk because despite the fact that I can pedal a bike very fast, I have no indoor track experience, and can’t get off the line in a standing start to save my life.
After just a few days of training, me and Ruth along with teammates Colleen Hayduk and Jade Wilcoxson (aka the Bad News Bears) took our motley crew to the boards in LA and pulled of a win in the 4k Team Pursuit!
Niels was so proud of me that he took me out for vegan soul food …
Starcrossed is our only local UCI CX race. I just wanted to finish in the top ten but managed to have a good start, make the lead group, and finish 5th! I even got some tweeps to notice me!
Good Result 5: NCGP
After Crash 5 and a disappointing week of racing on the east coast where I’d hoped to walk away with 30-40 UCI points but managed to eke out only 7, I made the last minute decision to head to North Carolina for the NCGP of Cyclocross.
Long story short, I had a very good start and was off the front in the first 1/2 lap with my friend Beth. We worked together until I was able to ride one section that she opted to run. From there, I was on my own for the entire cold, muddy, rainy, sloppy race.
The whole race I was just saying to myself, “holy shit Cutler, don’t mess this up.”
I rolled across the line about a minute up on second place and was amazed to walk away with my first UCI cyclocross win.
When I started racing at the professional level a year and a half ago my only goal was to eventually win a pro race. There were times this year that I really didn’t think it would ever happen and I was shocked that when it did happen, it was in a CX race which is … not my strongest discipline to say the least.
Good Result 6: I got way more Twitter followers.
There is nothing that is more important in cycling than your level of minor celebrity. This year I proved that I’m doing something right by going from 50 twitter followers to over 600. I would say this was my biggest win of 2013.
I head to CX nationals to contest the single speed and elite races next week. Even though I’m nervous and excited I am also really ready to take a break and start regrouping for next year.
Hopefully less crashing and more winning.