Strix the harbinger
guards the exit gate, quizzing all
Who will pass this night?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ted Ernst Rides the Tour of Somerville

Ted Ernst is a tough old man. I don't know him personally, but I'm a big fan. This was posted yesterday on the CR List:

"As a followup to my post about Jeannie Robinson/Omelenchuck,s track bike up for auction, I only rode the Tour of Somerville once back in 1953. It was a wild and wooly race. I wasn't always the fastest guy in sprints, but pretty strong, so I tried to break away in many races, tried to jump away 4 or 5 times but they knew better than to let me go and chased me down very hard.This was the 10th anniversary and first place was a Chevy car!!! The guys knew me a little and didn't want me soloing off. My last jump came with about two to go, they chased me down and got me with about 3/4 lap to go if I remember. I got to sit in close to the front and recover a little before sprint. Hughie Starr took advantage of the lull after they caught me and shot out with about 1/2 lap to go and got just enuf of a gap that the mad charge down the long straghtaway couldn't quite haul him in.I was winding it up with the guys after the turn with the front of the field when some crazy guy came swooping across my/our beam, whacked my RH pedal and tore off my toe strap buckle, how he got by me, veering off and not any of us falling still makes my imagination stagger. I got out of seat for the jump the last 1/4 mile,almost lost my foot with that strap gone. Remember it was all fixed gear track bikes no brakes. My right foot was flopping with the speed and rotation so I held on to my legs and hips for dear life and managed a 4th in the field sprint. Got a Nice TV, first one for our house so Mom was pleased, but the car would have been just a little nicer. Oh well. The next year in '54 I went back to Somerville with revenge in mind. Ray Gasiorowski(Romic Bikes), John Polacek, and I drove to Somerville for the race. The day before we went out for a little stretch the leg ride and I was in back, John in front, Ray was outside on the paved shoulder. A long trailer Milk truck was drumming along from Pennsy to N.Y., the driver must have fallen asleep at the wheel, drifted over, and clipped us. The police report said he was going over 50 MPH and the crash jarred him awake so that his truck was jackknifed in the large geen parkway between the two double lanes of the divided highway.Now it gets interesting. Police estimate I was thrown about 55/60 feet from point of impact! My bike had the rear brake and seat stays munched into the seat tube. John had a fractured skull and was out for three days, Ray was knocked down but able to ride the race. I had a fractured 4th and 5th lumbar verteba, broken nose, twisted but not broken left ankle,and my left eye lid was torn so bad they thought I lost my eye At the accident scene a priest came by and John and I were messed up so bad he thought we were dead or dying and gave us last rites. I started to come around and started thrashing so much trying to get up that they sat on me to keep me down. I woke up in the hospital looking up at a brite light and the first thing I heard was the doc saying I was going to be OK but he was cutting about 1/4 inch of my eyelid and couldn't believe my eye was not injured. As I was recovering in the hospital the nurses kept wondering during nite check if I wasn't peeking at them because my eye wouldn't be covered with the shortened lid, took several years for that to stretch and far enuf to close, my left ankle hurt for over 15 years about Memorial Day time, and if I sat with my foot at the wrong angle it hurt for over twenty years till it finally went away. My back healed but I had to always watch how I would lift because it was just enuf to make me look bent over like a 100 year oldster. Even thogh I started racing again after the Tour Of Somerville in '55, and had a fair career, it always let me know it wasn't quite 100%. That's why I respect and admire all the athletes that overcome adversity to give it their all.That's all you get today."
Ted Ernst, Palos Verdes Estates, CA , USA

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