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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.

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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.

Postscript

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