It’s not the most romantic part of cycling. A dns against your name on the results sheet.

For those not so familiar with the lexicon of British time trialling, dns is simply short for ‘did not start’

It could be worse, at least it isn’t bwsahib – ‘big wimp stayed at home in bed’


To be fair, I had a reasonable excuse for dns at the North Road Hardriders CC event on Sunday. The knee’s been playing up for a few weeks, and you get tired of riding with a disconcerting pain in the knee. It’s one thing to plod around for an hour, testing the waters. But, it’s another thing to throw yourself into a 25 mile hilly time trial against some of the top riders in the country. If you’re going to get up at 6am to ride 25 hilly miles, with the temperature barely above freezing, you don’t want the additional mental concern over whether you should actually be riding, and fearing you may have to give up after 5 miles.

The North Road Hard-riders CC is one of those early season ‘Classics’ that is definitely on the list of races to do – preferably when you’re in good shape. For whatever reason, I’ve never made the event in the past eight years. I keep wanting to do it, but something prevents me – either I’m out of the country, bad knees or just lame excuses. I think this is the third time I’ve had to dns from the race.

One year (2009) was a bad knee. The other year (2011) was more akin to ‘bwsahib’. My excuse that time was that the weather forecast was for 6 inches of rain (well possibly 6cm, but whose counting) I assumed that any race in February with 6 cm of rain would probably be cancelled, so I failed to make the early morning journey. The race of course wasn’t cancelled, and was run off in rivers of water; those riders who completed the event could count themselves a seasoned finisher of a real classic. After seeing the pictures of the riders flying through the rivers of water, I made a mental note to make sure I did this race next time, no excuses. Though my near hypothermia experience in 2012 did make me slightly re-evaluate my guilt over not starting races in the freezing wet, I was definitely hopeful of riding this year.

After the national hill climb championships at the end of October 2012, I had more motivation than ever for the next season. It led to an epic Nov and Dec training schedule; helped by a desire to do well in the early season hillies. In particular, these early season events really attract my  motivation – much more interesting than the races later in the season when the courses flatten out and you move onto the dual carriageways. A particular target is the Circuit of the Dales and Buxton Mountain Time trial towards the end of March. These are races far removed from a short 10 mile TT, like Frome last weekend. I’m only inspired to do a 30 mile + hilly TT with sufficient training in the legs. You don’t want to do the Circuit of the Dales on the back of a few 30 minutes on the turbo sessions.

I will have to hope that my diet of Glucosomine, MSM, Chondroitin, Cod Liver Oil, Flax seed oil, and any other vitamin with a vague promise to mend knees – starts to do the business soon. I still want to ride my bicycle, preferably up and down hills.

I keep having the feeling the knee is going to get better, but then my optimism is dashed. This is hard. It’s tantalisingly close, but even one joint out of action is enough to bring the fluidity of cycling to an abrupt halt. It reminds me of John Cleese, in the film Clockwise.

It’s not the despair, Laura. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.

Looking on the bright side, time off the bike is an occupational hazard for any cyclist, and if you have to miss one race in the season, it could really be worse than the race run at 0 degrees Celsius. Hopefully in 2014, the  planets will finally be aligned in the right direction, and it will be a few numbers, rather then 3 letters next to my name on the North Road Hardriders Results sheet.

7 Responses to dns

  1. jonty pritchard March 4, 2013 at 5:41 am #

    at age 43 i decided i was tooo much overweight so i got back on the bike after a ten year lay off i competed in biathlonz circuit racing did lots of training in the hills also took up running PROBABLY WORSE THING I COULD HAVE DONE started having knee problems after many years of running eventually it was toooo painful to even ride the bike SORRY TO SAY TEJVAN
    i even have slight problems with my knees 25 years later still you are not me hopefully you will
    be luckier ( maybe the surgeon was right !!!! jonty

  2. 24hourmaths March 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Circuit of The Dales and NRHR – I’ve come second in both and they will definitely be the results that i bore my grandchildren rigid with. Both cracking classic races (along with the Anfield 100)

    • tejvan March 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      nice to hear from you Michael. I think I remember once coming second to you in the A5 Rangers 31 mile TT, if I had any grandchildren, I’d tell them about that race!

      • 24hourmaths March 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

        You came second, but it looks like i was third…


        Maybe i’ll see you again in real life again soon, hoping to do some TTs and maybe even HCs this season. Until then, Strava it is. Good luck with the knee – annoyingly rest is often the best option.


  3. Tricyklist March 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    Try lowering your saddle by half an inch.

    I was completely free from knee pain for ages until I broke a saddle clamp.

    I did a quick swap of saddle pins, fitting exactly the same saddle and instantly suffered knee pain all through my first ride!

    Give it a try.

  4. Dave February 26, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    Better a dns than a dnf?

  5. Hurumph February 25, 2013 at 11:01 pm #

    Ranulph Ffiennes is in the news today because he had to withdraw from his latest escapade and he ‘only’ fixed a ski binding without gloves….

    As part of the coverage of it the radio people (BBC R4) interviewed the surgeon that looks after Mr Fiennes injuries and he said the one thing that does more than anything to fix problems of the sort you have with your knee is the worst possible thing: time.

    It sounds like you need to give your knee time to repair – as well as “Glucosomine, MSM, Chondroitin, Cod Liver Oil, Flax seed oil, and any other vitamin with a vague promise to mend knees”

    Sorry – I hope I am wrong

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