2013 London Triathlon: Mechanical DNF

I spent yesterday afternoon alternating between swings of optimism, and pits of disappointment.  Yesterday’s London Triathlon did not go the way that I had intended.  Just at the start of the bike course I down shifted as we approached one of the many road overpasses the course has to offer.  As I downshifted I was losing speed, and my gears felt strange.  I had taken my bike in twice over the past week because things were not feeling right – my bike was skipping gears.  I was assured on Saturday afternoon that things were good to go, that adjustments had been made including to my “chain tension”. I didn’t probe the mechanic too much, I figured the bike was good to go and headed home.  This came back to haunt me on that first ascent, as I shifted and my rear mechanism completely locked. 

I could not downshift to release the tension. I remove the wheel to loosen tension, but I still could not get the chain to move. My frustration peaked. Maybe I could get the bike to work. But would I feel safe riding it for another 35km?  No.  And I did not want a crash. So after 10 minutes of fiddling around on the side of the road, two St John’s ambulance volunteers and one cycle course safety officer looking on, I called it a day.

DNF = Disappointing Not2Mention Frustrating

In deep frustration I flung my helmet to the ground. And um, yeah, well, I forgot that I always poke my Oakleys into the top of my helmet when I stop, you know, to stop them from falling on the ground. And yeah, well, that fling resulted in my Oakley’s snapping at the bridge.

DNF = Do Not Fling

Feeling deeply sorry for myself I crossed the course and walked back to transition. Sockless, in my cycle cleats.  As I walked up the ramp I just shook my head, fighting tears of frustration.  The British Triathlon official looking after transition saw me, and I asked if I could try to turn around my attitude by hitting the run course.  I knew my day was a DNF, but I needed to do something, anything, to help to change my mood. Thankfully he said yes, and gave me a big hug. (I love the BTF officials who work at the Excel!)

And it worked.  At the first lap I saw my coach (who had come down to spectate me and DH racing) and chatted. Was it even worth me completing 10k as, essentially, a stand alone run, as I already had done two of these in recent months?  Why not just run until my heart felt happier, and find another race to do?  So I decided to do two of the run loops (out of three) which brightened my mood immensely.

I think I have found another race to do, to be able to see how an Olympic Distance Triathlon is feeling after all of the work I have put in this season.

I have also found two places to take some bicycle maintenance classes – not just the basics which I can do, but the more advanced things, like changing gear cables, adjusting gears / indexing, being comfortable taking apart my bike… If I had more skills and knowledge, perhaps I could have sorted my issues out on the course and saved my race.  And as the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

DNF = Definitiely Never Fail2Learn

2 responses to “2013 London Triathlon: Mechanical DNF”

  1. You know you could say this sucks and it does but your attitude really is incredible.

    Taking the lesson to learn lessons. Going from disappointment to learning.  That is a great take away.

    Sorry that this didn’t turn out as you had wanted but you found the silver lining (again!)

  2. I love your attitude. That must’ve been so frustrating but I’m glad you managed to turn it around and hopefully you’ll kill your next race!

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