I’ve always viewed DNS as the somewhat tamer cousin of the dreaded DNF. I’ve seen it as a card to be played only in the most extreme cases, a sign of failure. But as country singer Kenny Rogers reminds us, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run . . .” By all accounts, I should be admiring the view of Lake Ontario right now with 56 of my new best friends on the Lap of the Lake 1000K brevet. Instead, I’m sitting here writing about why I’m not.
Knowing when to call it quits is a hard thing for most randonneurs. These are people who generally operate in that zone somewhere between crazy and stupid, courageous and insane. When is too much TOO MUCH? I reached my limit this week. A crash on the NJ 600K on June 26th left me with reduced mobility and persistent pain in my left shoulder. I was able to finish that event, but the spill has taken a toll on my season. After the road rash has healed, I’m left wondering whether I’ve done something serious this time around. Unable to get an appointment with an orthopedist until next Monday, I wait and spend less time on the bike than I normally would at this time of year. The scariest thing is, had my wife not put her foot down, I’d be out there right now figuring that things would sort themselves out (which they might). I worry that my determination to keep going no matter what may lead me into trouble down the road.
Randonneurs understand the psychological buildup that comes from training and planning for a big event. I first learned about the LOL 1000K back in the fall and it’s not been far from my mind over the past six months. While I completed the LEL 1400K last summer, this was to be my first 1000K event and I was eager to test the distance as well as achieve airtight qualification for PBP pre-registration priority next year. I keep reminding myself that, all in all, I’m pretty lucky that my crash was not more serious. Frank Schleck was in surgery deep into the night on Tuesday to repair his broken collarbone ending his Tour and we all know that much worse can happen on the open roads.
As disappointing as it is, I realize that healing is probably wiser than riding this week. I am feeling a bit better each day and with luck, I’ll get good news from the doctor on Monday. Riding itself does not seem to stress my injury all that much. I was out last weekend on a 50-mile spin through the Catskills that included some major climbs. Only once did I feel a sharp jab as I shifted my weight on the bars coming out of my saddle to add heft to my pedal stroke. With a little luck, I’ll be properly mended for the Endless Mountain 1000K in late August. For now, I’ll have to imagine the view of the lake and the adventures that my friend Andrey and others are having along the way.