Racer and fabled BMW wrench Tom Cutter with Jack Riepe at Summit Point.
Next to getting laid, this is alleged to be a high point in Riepe's life.
Riepe is riding Blue Balls, before it was destroyed in the crash.
(Click to enlarge, but stand back.)
But two-wheel races don’t have to be confined to triple digit speeds to be exciting. And they can be as quiet as the sound of dripping sweat or the clicking of a Shimano derailleur flipping a chain over the rear cassette. Bicycle racing calls for the instincts and reflexes of a leopard, with the stamina of a steam engine, and the muscles of an Olympic contender. And occasionally, they call for the assistance of a motomarshal.
These are the incredibly cool individuals on motorcycles herding the bicyclists around. In professional and sponsored races, they sometimes carry photographers and television cameramen, while escorting the riders through traffic. In charity events, they assist the bicyclists through traffic, and provide other assistance and services for riders confronted with mechanical challenges. It is sophisticated work requiring no small amount of skill.
Motomarshals must often ride and maneuver at slow speeds. The races and rides take place on public roads, so there is traffic and pedestrians. They may find themselves mounting and dismounting in confined spaces -- often. Their bikes may be balanced precariously on the edges of narrow roads. And their topcases and panniers will be stuffed with first aid kits, water, bicycle tubes, patch kits and pumps. (Actually, aside from the bicycle inner tubes, most Beemer riders carry this stuff anyway.)
Many Mac-Pac members have volunteered for this kind of duty. At least nine of the club’s members joined Kimi Bush at the Multiple Sclerosis 150 PA Dutch Ride this past July. They were Corey Lyba, Charlie Gilman, Jay Scales, Tom Byrum, Mike Evans, Georgina Texeira, Doug Bennett, Jim Corry, his son Jameson, and Carl Millhouse.
Mike Evans demonstrates the perfect riding posture expected of a motomarshal.
Training is provided by the Federal Motomarshal Program
(Click to enlarge)
But this story goes beyond recognizing those dedicated souls who ride simply for a good cause. It is the tale of Mike Evans, and proof that no good deed goes unpunished.
On Saturday, September 6th, 2008, Mike Evans was motomarshalling in the fast-paced Univest Grand Prix, in Souderton, Pa, on his blue 1999 Suzuki Bandit. This race was one of only 13 Union Cyclist International (UCI)-ranked professional road cycling competitions for men in the United States, drawing 150 riders from 16 countries. It was also the day when a few thunder boomers would sweep the area.
Motomarshal Mike Evans on his rare 1999 Suzuki Bandit
At the MS 150 Pa Dutch Ride
(Click To Enlarge)
Thirty miles into the race, Evans got caught holding traffic while the entire race procession went past him. He had been assigned to ride in the lead, but realized there was no way he could get ahead of the pack from behind now.
“I considered my options and realized the best one was to veer from course, take some side roads, and come out in front of them,” said Evans.
This was the moment it started to rain. “The drops were petite at first,” said Evans, “About the size of Green Giant LeSeur peas. You know, the ones that come in the silver can. They had that clean, fresh rain smell to them. But they got bigger and there were a lot of them.”
The raindrops started out about the size of LeSueur Peas
Evans turned onto a quaint road that quickly became a steep down-hill, complete with running water. It was then he discovered he had absolutely no traction with either wheel.
“The front wheel slipped momentarily and I let up slightly on he front brake. Then the back wheel started to lock up and I let up on that as well,” said Evans. He continued putting light pressure on the front brake and toggling the back, desperately seeking traction on a road surface that rivaled wet glass. Fighting panic, this veteran rider fishtailed his way down this hill in typical mountain bike descent fashion. (Fishtailing is where the rear-end sways uncontrollably.)
“Nearing the bottom of the hill, I realized I was not scrubbing off enough speed to make a 90-degree right turn coming at me,” said Evans. “Straight ahead was a field of waist-high weeds and grasses. I left the road surface behind for the salad bar.” But if he thought the road was slippery, the wet vegetation was worse with his street tires. Evans made it a good way into the field, bouncing over and through ruts until finally the front wheel just lost bite altogether and zipped out from under him.
“I went down on my right shoulder and side. The wind was knocked out of me instantly.”
Evans lay there for a moment, listening to the raindrops landing on his helmet, punctuated by the occasional report being blurted out over the race radio he had with him. He took a mental inventory of what hurt or felt strange and worked to get air back into his lungs with some regularity.
“I began to feel around and move my limbs a bit and gradually sat up. From where I lay all the weeds were taller than me so I could not see the road, nor could anyone from the road see me, not that it mattered as no one came down this road for the balance of the time I spent there,” said Evans. He reached over and turned off the bike.
He got up, walked around a bit and began carrying various items up the
the roadside. Then he went back for the bike.
“My right shoulder was screaming but I was able to lift the bike in the correct manner without putting too much pressure on the shoulder. Then I pushed the bike up through grass back to the road,” said the shaken rider.
On-Site mechanical damage summary:
• various plastic scrapes and cracked fairing
• right side mirror knocked loose.
“A nice scrape and gash in the side of my helmet was right behind my ear. A cool guy cruiser salad bowl helmet likely would not have helped in this case,” Evans reflected. “Otherwise all seemed well. I pulled out the tools, tightened down the mirror and climbed back on. A quick blip of the starter brought the Suzuli’s engine back to life and off I went back to catch the race.”
The damage to Mike Evans 1999 Suzuki Bandit
Waist-high grass hid a minefield of debris.
(Click to enlarge)
Evans noticed that his sore shoulder seemed to have a good range of motion with some tightness and dull pain, until he put any pressure on the bars. Then it felt as though a knife were sticking in his neck. He guessed he had a broken collar bone. He guessed right.
The typical broken collar bone
(Click to enlarge)
Nevertheless, Evans got back onto the course ahead of the race an led the racers for another 50-plus miles at that point. Once in Souderton, he elected to park it in the pits and be done. Faced with the option of getting treatment or lunch, he headed for the food tent. While sitting there enjoying his chicken, ribs and deserts, he started to really stiffen up.
“Once the race was over, I climbed back on the bike and rode my way home to Kimberton, where I removed the many layers of riding gear and got dressed to drive over to Phoenixville hospital,” said Evans.
Evans attributes his Arai full-face helmet, FirstGear Mesh Jacket and
FirstGear textile pants -- plus nylon rain suit -- with preventing more serious injuries. The emergency room confirmed the broken right clavicle.
“I am getting tired of telling the accident story though, especially to those who are anti-motorcycling and who respond with, "Those things are soooo dangerous... Serves you right," said Evans. “They usually follow those comments with "I bet you're not going to get on that thing again."
At this point I spout back,"That's the same thing the doctor said to your father, referring to your mother upon seeing you pop out of her womb."
Evans does see a silver lining in this cloud.
“Surprisingly the arm sling does garner some attention from sensitive women. I was at a party over the weekend and several women at the bar went out of their way to ask about the injury,” said Evans. “For those that didn’t, I bumped into them and began screaming as if in great pain. Their nurturing instincts took over and they would want to caress the pain away. I can work with this. They sell the arm slings in Aisle 7 of Rite Aid if you want to try it out.”
©Copyright Jack Riepe 2008
AKA The Lindbergh Baby (Mac-Pac)
AKA Vindak8r (Motorcycle Views)
AKA The Chamberlain -- PS (With A Shrug)