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.