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Life as a bike jockey: Are you in or are you out?

  • By Judy Freeman
  • Published Apr. 27, 2012
  • Updated Oct. 11, 2012 at 4:42 PM EST

Whenever I get down on something, I think of my friend Linda, who would approach any situation with the question. “Are you in or are you out?” Granted, she’d pepper the moment with an F-bomb or two but the lesson was always the same.

If you’re in, be in with 100% of whatever you’ve got, even if you’ve got practically nothing. There’s no judgment if you decide to be out, but whatever you decide, do it 100%. Don’t be in and wishing you were somewhere else.

Anyhow, I thought about this as I stared at the hospital ceiling in Belgium, the day before the Houffalize World Cup.

Houffa, Houffa

When we arrived in Houffalize on Thursday, I was stoked on the course after my pre-ride. The super steep climbs suited my goat nature and even from the first lap, the descents we’re all rideable.

In contrast to the first World Cup race in South Africa, I was feeling pretty confident. I wouldn’t say I was BeeGees struttin’ confident, but I was feeling good about the race on Sunday.

And then I went out to ride the course one last time on Saturday.

Houston, we have a problem

While I couldn’t tell you exactly what I did, I do remember second-guessing my line down a couple of log stairs. After that, it was ass over teakettle and a CRACK! as my face hit the ground. I got up and started spitting blood.

Luckily I was riding with my friend, Caroline Manni (smart little French cyclocross racer and who’s looking for a summer internship in the States… anyone?… anyone?). Caroline helped me off the course and phoned my boyfriend, Tom who had made the trek out to Belgium with me.

Tom and I made a plan to meet at the medic station at the base of the course. I’ll give the fella points. He kept it cool when I told him what happened. He has since informed me, however, he’d prefer to never again hear that I was “looking for my tooth in the dirt.”

Coming down the mountain

I caught a ride to the base on a four-wheeler with one of the Red Bull TV camera guys. It wasn’t his job, but with my scraped up face and a toothless smile, he was powerless to my charm.

When we got to the medics, I was thinking it’d be alright since I was walking and was able to pronounce all the swear words I wanted. But the doctors were a little more concerned with my “asymmetry.” They sent me to the hospital suspicious of a cracked jaw.

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