Can winning a race make one immortal?
Perhaps if one was to beat ‘The King’ in a straight fight at the Peoria TT.
Who would not want to be remembered as the man who beat ‘The King’?
It’s the equivalent of Arthur pulling the sword from the stone.
So far, many have tried but none have done so.
A win there could be every bit as big as clinching a championship.
The Peoria TT is a fearsome place.
The younger generation calls it sketchy.
The type of track that puts a premium on skill and bravery,
separating those who have it from those who don’t.
Airborne is not typical flat track stuff! But TT racing is a very different animal, and a little MX training couldn’t hurt, no?  Henry Wiles airborne and sideways. [American Flat Track]
There is more to flat track than turning left.
TT courses like Peoria have a right-hand turn and a jump.
Unlike the ovals, front brakes are used on TT courses.
This track is built in a valley forming a natural amphitheater.
Perfect for gladiators.
A rider must pull different skills from his bag of tricks to be competitive there.
Cole Zabala’s plan was simple.
Train at motocross to build the skills needed for TT.
Unfortunately, while training he got out of shape on a jump which led to him 
coming down sideways crashing heavily. 
Lying on the race track, dazed from the impact Cole accessed the damage done.
Pain everywhere, the lack of movement in his right wrist followed by coughing up blood
And the realization a hospital visit was required.
Give my cast a zipper, doc! When your livelihood is at stake, and you gotta race, regular hospitals just don’t get it. A little plaster didn’t dampen Cole Zabala’s spirits. [Taylor Bellegue]

Going to a regular hospital after a motorcycle accident is never fun.
It’s bad enough you pitched it away but now you have to explain yourself.
The doctors diagnosed Cole with a broken scaphoid and a bruised lung.
They were not impressed.
They recommend surgery on the wrist with a non-removable cast.
He would need to cease training for ten weeks.
They said a removable cast was out of the question.
Cole spoke of the need to decrease the timelines due to his racing schedule.
The doctors would not flex.
Dreams of Peoria glory faded.
The need for speed!  Cole Zabala blasting along the straightaway with nobody in sight. [American Flat Track]
Racers always look for a better way.
Cole went for a second opinion at a sports medicine clinic.
He liked being treated like any other athlete there.
They offered a plan to minimize his downtime to 3 weeks.
Cole did PR only at the Pennsylvania round.
His first race weekend back was New York.
He was able to get a third in one of the qualifiers.
Bike issues prevented better results in the mains.
I talked with Zabala during that New York round.
Cole’s smiling face told the story.
Saying the pain was manageable.
We laughed about the hospital visits we riders have.
Commiserating about the ‘less than’ treatment for guys who crash bikes.
Cole laughed saying “regular hospitals hate us!”
Hey we should do an article!
That line stuck in my head.
Thinking about it while watching practice.
I started pecking away on my iPhone:

Regular hospitals hate us.
Have they never suffered for their art?
Experience has taught me I’m better off saying I fell out of a tree.
They roll their eyes when we drive ourselves to the ER after declining the ambulance ride.
I need your help, not your judgment.
I know your words come from a good place.
The kindness is much appreciated.
I can get thru the pain and the bullshit
Cause I’m living to line up again.

Peoria was next.
Time to find out if the blood, sweat, and tears were worth it.
But Mother Nature was not cooperating.
It took a whole lot of magic from Caterpillar to get the rain-soaked track together on time.
As the race day wore on the track got rougher.
Their race was the last of the day.
The battle began as the green flag dropped.   
The King was on form.
Two of his challengers crashed out in the pursuit of victory.
Two red flags with the pressure of being perfect for the restarts.
Zabala still on the mend fought gallantly.
At one point running close second to The King.
Game face on. That’s racing – you win and you lose, and sometimes you get hurt. Cole Zabala focussed on the win. [Steve Koletar]
But The King was on a planet of his own.
He left the intensity behind.
Leaving second, third & fourth locked in a frenzied battle.
Pass after breathtaking pass at a ferocious clip.
Cole made a bid for second in the last corner but came up short.
Still a fine third place on his second race since the injury.
Jubilant times on the podium were a fine payback.
I just wonder how he’d do on a twin.
Coie Zebala looking like a centaur on is racing machine. [American Flat Track]


Michael Lawless [@electric_horseman], our ‘Poet of Packed Earth’, is the Flat Track Editor for, and has his own blog: Electric Horseman
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