DFL Before DNF (Race Report: Cross Crusade #2, Rainier High School)

Published 2011-10-09

So about two minutes into the first lap my seat stay broke. Of course I didn’t bring a pit bike. (FFR: always bring a pit bike.) So I carried my bike — at a brisk trot, mostly — for 43 minutes, two full laps, for the most heroic DFL of my life.


This was the maiden ’cross voyage of my 2004 Kona Jake the Snake, which had been in my mother-in-law’s garage for most of the last five years. It’s never seen a race and was used mostly for commuting. I don’t know how Ellen rode it, probably not hard enough to shear through both stays (the chainstay broke when I removed the wheel at home). So yeah.

I think what happened was: this bike was never tried in these conditions. We arrived at the venue scant minutes before my start time, so I didn’t get a preview ride. Lap 1 began with fast, wide singletrack over tree roots — bang bang bang against that bad stay. In the “pain cave” — deep mud, off-camber — I applied a little torque — not much, frankly — and SNAP.

I never thought about not finishing. I DNF’d once seven years ago and I’m still ashamed of it. I’m proud that I hoofed my horse in extreme discomfort four miles and it was fun. Important: Orion saw me finish under conditions where most competitors would (honorably) quit. I regret more than a little that I didn’t get to actually ride what looked like a fantastic course well-suited to my strengths (climbing, slippery mud, not too many barriers, rideable run-ups.)

My motto this year — hell, for the rest of my life is DFL before DNF.

Go down swinging.

But always bring a pit bike.


Orion debuted a pedal bike today at the Kiddie Kross! I’m proud of all the Souders men today.