Holy shit, what was that I just ran over???
After running for Purdue and San Diego St. 80-81 I was pretty much a wreck. So in '84 (it was an 8yr college tour :) I started to get serious about cycling and started training with San Diego St.'s Cycling Team. My knees seemed to be willing to live with the idea. Was better then getting dorm-butt, I figured.
One morning training ride a guy with an Ace-bandage on his knee was riding with us. Everyone seemed to know and respect the guy. I didn't know him, but I was a newby. But I certainly respected him, as is appropriate for all scum among the competent. It did strike me as absurd, though, to be out for a serious training ride with knee problems so bad that one would wear an elastic bandage tightly wrapped around the knee. Seems to me that if your all screwed up, you ought to take a break and let your body heal. But I was newby scum and so appropriately kept my yap shut.
There were a couple dozen of us. All brightly clad in lycra with the morning sun reflecting off of freshly shaved legs. We were pretty much just getting started in the standard brutally punishing 80mi jaunt through the sun-seared hills of E. San Diego. We were in a "double-paceline" so there were two rows of riders casually shooting the bull. Soon the pace would increase to some hellish thing which we'd maintain for the rest of the ride. Or, in my case, maintain for as long as I could "hang". Being able to hang on, in a training ride with these Class 1, 2 and 3 riders was iffy, at best.
After 15min of cruising the pace started getting pushed. I was near the rear of the pace-line as befit my station. It also gave me more folks to draft behind and God knows it was drafting that was going to see me thru this trial. Newby doesn't have to equal stupid. We backed off as we headed towards a stop-light, but then it went green and everyone jumped up out of their saddles and accelerated hard.
Then the impossible happened.
About 5 guys in front of me, I saw what, well, I think that I saw, I mean what I my eyes saw was so impossible that my brain struggled accept what I saw.... I saw a man's leg fall right off. I mean "my god, this can't be right, but I'd swear I'd just seen a guy's leg fall off". He had been out of the saddle, accelerating hard and then I saw his leg just fall clean off and drop on the ground. My jaw was agape, my eyes were wide as saucers and my sorry-ass attempt to leap the leg, bouncing past under me, didn't quite make it.
It was a miracle that I didn't take half of the other riders down.
Pulling out of the pace-line, and looking back to confirm the LOCATION OF HIS LEG, I saw the Ace-bandage guy looping back. His form was all screwed up, bouncing up and down like a yo-yo, as he rode with only one leg to pick up what he had dropped. His other leg. Looking at him circle back, it was still totally not clear what the hell was going on.
Turns out that the guy rode with a prosthetic leg. He was a damn strong cyclist too. Certainly out of my class.
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