Last week was Hillsboro and Tillis Park. People won and people lost, and those stats are as ancient as the names of yesterday's pop stars. What always stays with you, however, are the little stories and images. Here's one of mine:
There's a young man from Columbia named Zach Hockett who crashed out in the threes race at Hillsboro. Apparently it was a pretty spectacular crash--as most road race crashes are (why do people think they are safer than crits?). His was an over-the-bars, equipment-thrashing, ride-in-the-meatwagon affair. Might as well do it up right, right? Anyways, needless to say, his parents were horrified. And well justified. Not many positive post-race scenerios include trips to the ER. The real bottom line here is that Zach walked out of the entire deal with no more than some cuts and bruises and a couple of trashed wheels, but as always there's more to the story.
What a lot of people outside of Zach's immediate race circle don't know is that the kid was just picked to race in Europe with the U.S. National Junior team. He's scheduled to leave in a few weeks. So naturally everyone's first thoughts, understandably including Zach, were, damn, ain't that just the luck, to crash out just before you get a big break. And so it was that the next day Zach awoke telling his mom and dad that he just felt too beat up to do the crit that day. He had planned to do the juniors, then double up in the pro 1-3. Now if you're a bettin' man, how do you think his mom is gonna handle the news that he doesn't feel like doing the crit after crashing out hard the day before? Well, you'd probably lose that bet.
Zach's mom, Sherry, recounted the story to me after Zach had won the junior event, including a preme of a new wheelset. "You know, the mom in me wanted to tell him, that's okay," she said, "but I remember my dad always made me get back up on that horse when I'd been bucked off, and it always made things better in the long run. So I told him, No, Zach, you're a little shook up, but you're okay and I just think you need to go ahead and do what you had planned to do."
She told me she thought that as much as feeling beaten up, that Zach was really bumming about ruining his new race wheels. "I know," she said, "that all that worry about wasting money can make you feel conservative and you just want to pull back and not take any more chances, but if Zach really wants to be a bike racer, he's gonna have to race."
Zach finished the pro 1-3 race, and finished the haunting thoughts of his crash right along with it. All I could think was, damn, girl, I can think of a lot of cat ones who could use some of that kind of mothering. Later.