Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sorry Davis

By the late 80's the Coors classic was no more, but some of the races survived. The one crit stage in Sacramento CA with the quarter mile of cobbles which still existed was sponsored by the California Lottery and brought huge loud crowds. It was equivalent to an NRC race today and brought teams like Coors Light, Schwinn-Wheaties, Celestial Seasonings and 7-11. It was huge and was also one of the first races I did as a cat-2 (junior).

I remember being on the start line (actually really far back from it) and looking around and being terribly intimidated because the guys around me were the same people I would read about in cycling magazines. It seemed larger than life.

When the race first started, I used everything I had to get in the front half. After about three laps I was pretty blown and the cobbles were kicking my ass. I vaguely remember seeing something like 60 or 70 laps remaining as I was slipping backwards fast and the single file line of riders was passing my on both sides. Before I knew it I was hanging on the very back by a string that was about to snap.

To my luck, at some point the race slowed down and when it picked up again I found myself in the top 10. Suddenly being up front gave me new life and I was pumped hearing the crowds. I did not want to slip back again and I was giving it everything to hold my spot, to the point where I was getting tunnel vision and going cross-eyed.

Then it happened. In the turn, going off the cobbles my front wheel skidded out on someones water bottle that had been dislodged from the vibrations. I slid left in the right hand turn and my handlebars hooked into the orange snow fencing standing my bike sideways for the rest off the single file field to plow into. It was chaos.

Some how I was fine, so I began to look for my bike in the carnage. It was next to Davis Phinney who was holding his extremely bloody hand and yelling all kinds of obscenities. All I could think of saying was "Sorry" as I hopped back on my bike and rolled to the pit where there was a huge gaggle of other riders waiting to get back in. I finished the race, but barely.

At a crit in Oakland the next day, Davis's hand was all hospitaled up. Apparently he split it between his fingers on my chain ring. Ouch. As I heard him yelling to officials, or somebody something about juniors should not allowed in the elite races I slinked back to try to stay out of his sight.

That wasn't the end of it. For several years, no matter how well I did at races I would be known as "that guy who crashed Davis Phinney". To make matters worse, I have seen that crash on TV (more than once) on shows like Bloopers, Bleepers and Practical Jokes.

So, although I was a junior and it was over 20 years ago, sorry Davis.


  1. Is there a way I can find this on you tube? Just wondering.

  2. lickitty split n move on....guess he shoulda ridden further up. do you remember the messenger co. by that name ... all female, in San Fran ? bottles happen... was it the loose bottle on the 7 oclock that triggered that memory or thinking of his sons place in the future hope of american cycling ?

  3. DJ - I was looking all over youtube and couldn't even find anything on that race let alone the crash. All I could find was a few coors classic videos. I would love to see it, but at the same time it would make my toes curl. Luckily I have had more imfamous moments so I was able to live that one down.

    Chris -I have never heard of lickitty split. I was couriring (is that a word) lat 80's till around 2004 some SF but mostly Sacramento. Didn't see the 7 oclock.

  4. I had the same experince in my first pro crit - Shlitz Park of super week. Same deal, one hundred lap race, ten laps into it, and I was cross eyed. I looked at the lap counter, saw 90 to go, and proceeded to question, life, liberty, and the pursuit of insanity - I had no gauge for this kind of speed. Halfway through like yourself I somehow got to the front and they rang the bell for a two place prime. Me and one of the Pinada's had managed a gap into the last corner, so I punched it to try and take him from the front. Unfortunatly I had a 20 mm tire that was given to me for the time trial at Fitchburg, and specific directions not to race on it as it was completly worn. Well I crashed pretty hard and of course didn't get the prime, but I did get a ton of road rash, and the confidence that I belong in races at that level. Since then I've gotten 9th at that specific race, and a rack of podiums in the series in later years. As for the winner of that race, it was Leiphimer. After the race, on the podium, he was talking about Lance and how he wishes he was over in Europe helping him out and so on. I was like WTF it he talking about. Next year he was on Postal and managed third in the Vuelta. Good story The Chuckster. Just like it is for a young girl, the first one always hurts.

  5. I believe it was you, Zach, and myself out there that year,(were you up the road with a young Bahatti also ) and while you and Doo Doo were holed up for the next day (it was sorta wet)I was out in the crit and I managed to get in a second break with Chad Gerlach and some Defeet Italian. Last lap a couple from the field bridged including Jamie Carney and I got like 17 th but not bad with a dozen up the road already.

  6. Chuck,

    Funny story! I did that crazy race in Sacramento and then Oakland the next day...want to say in '91 or '92? Those cobbles were horrible and I remember the race ending in the dark. Thanks for the foggy memories...