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Dealing with my first DNF

Written by Fiona November 11 2013

Yesterday, I experienced my first DNF (Did Not Finish) in a race. In the third lap of a cyclocross event at Strathclyde Park, near Motherwell, my back tyre punctured and I had to pull out. I was only 20 minutes into a 45 min race – and I was sorely disappointed.

Pic credit: SpodHopper

PUNCTURE FRUSTRATION.                                  Pic credit: SpodHopper

Some cyclocross riders have spare wheels in case they puncture and one woman in my race went back to her car and replaced her punctured inner tube before rejoining the event. But I didn’t have any spare mechanical equipment with me and I doubt my inner tube changing speed would have allowed me to come back to the race before it finished.

I felt cheated, not only of part of the £18 entry fee, but also of the training benefit. I am not a great cyclocross rider but I enjoy the events and they offer a superb winter fitness session. I had driven, with Speedy Lizzie, to the park with great expectations of taking part in the full and very challenging event, yet only two laps later I had to stop.

Speedy Lizzie, after finishing with another good Scottish cyclocross result, consoled and empathised. She said the same had happened to her a couple of times and once after driving for many hours to reach the event. She understood the frustration.

An hour or so later, I felt more sanguine. I I had only driven for 40 minutes to reach Strathclyde Park. It was a bike failure not my own fitness failure. I had enjoyed meeting with other riders and watching others race. I had good intentions of finishing the race.

So I decided I would drive home, eat a late lunch and head out for a road cycle. The day was slipping away and I knew that sunset was at 4.30pm so I quickly re-focused my day’s training plans.

How to forget a DNF

photo copy 7The ride of about 1hr 15mins was actually superb. The conditions were perfect for a winter’s bike ride with very little wind, a blue sky, sunshine and stunning autumnal views across the countryside. Perhaps because I was trying to make up for a missed 25 minutes on my cyclocross bike, I rode fast and with good levels of power. It felt great to have salvaged some of my expectations of the day.

Returning home I washed down both bikes and set about fixing the puncture. I decided that DNF now stood for Does Not Figure. Sometimes there are uncontrollables with races and the only thing to do is to forget about the missed opportunity and experience and find something else instead to satisfy your exercise needs.

How do you deal with a DNF?

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