COLUMBIA — Raymond Sapp lay on the ground, a numbing pain radiating through his left leg. Unable to move the leg, Sapp knew something was seriously wrong.
He was right.
The 61 year old’s femur had splintered at the hip, an injury that would eventually require surgery to install three screws at the top of the bone to repair the damage.
“We were just riding down Rangeline on a training ride and some guys in front of me crossed wheels, which is a big no-no, but it happens,” Sapp said. “My back wheel popped up, and I twisted to the side and came down really hard on my hip. I tried to get up, but when I did that, I just knew I was hurt pretty bad.”
Even at 61, however, Sapp is hardly one of the older racers when he takes his bike out on the road.
“Some of these guys out here are 85 and 90 years old going out and doing the same thing I’m doing,”Sapp said.
Sapp, president of the Columbia Bicycle Club Race Team, has recovered and is one of several volunteers helping to put on the 19th Annual Froze Toes road race on Sunday. Hundreds of cyclists from around the nation will converge on Columbia to open the 2008 cycling season.
Mike Best, a cyclist from Ashland who rides with Gateway Cycling out of St. Louis who will race Sunday, said the event is a great gauge for how well he and others prepared over the winter months.
“It’s the first race on the calendar, and a great chance for everyone to get out and get a feel for where they’re at after winter preparation,” Best said.
Most riders will complete the 31-mile loop that begins at Two Mile Prairie School off Highway Z in Columbia. Pro racers will tackle the loop twice for a 62-mile race.
The race will feature the ChipX Timing System for the first time, a technology has help eliminate frustrating aspects of racing for cyclists.
Sapp thnks that quicker results are most beneficial for the racers who traveled from out of state.
“After they get done with the race, they need to start heading out, and sometimes it’s an hour or so before we can file results,” Sapp said.
Although the event goes by the name Froze Toes, Steve Miller says the cold isn’t as big of an issue as it seems.
“I’ll go out and ride even if the temperature gets below the 20s,” Miller said. “With technology today, keeping warm in general isn’t a big issue.” Jessica Kovarik, a 24-year-old dietitian who plans to race on Sunday, said sweat isn’t the only problem when the temperatures drop.
“Once you get out on the course, you warm up pretty quick, but for me, I sometimes have trouble breathing once it gets to a certain temperature.”