Saturday was the Lewis and Clark 12/24. I've done this race (12-hour version) twice before on my single bike, and the goal this year was to do it on the tandem. We didn't aspire to any enormous distance in our allotted 12 hours, just log some fun miles and establish a tandem course record (there isn't one).
The weather forecast was grim all week, and I announced that it if was raining, I wasn't going. Climbing and descending a mountain pass in the rain--after 4 hours on the bike--didn't sound like any kind of fun. Funny enough, it was not raining at the start. The promoter's bribes to the weather gods had paid off. Briefly. Within 15 minutes, the drizzle started and my captain was saying "I thought you said you wouldn't race if it was raining." Yeah, well, I'm here now, let's go. Sadly, the bike had other notions. When we started up after a "nature break," the front shifter snapped off inside the brake hood. The derailleur was about halfway between the small and middle chain rings. Eventually we found a screwdriver and got it to run well enough on the middle ring, but it was pretty clear that we were neither going to climb any steep hills nor have much fun on anything even slightly downhill with that gearing. So we limped our way to Stevenson, found a nice coffee shop, watched the Gorge winds, and caught up on Facebook. And then we turned around and rode the 46 miles back to the start. 50 rpm uphill on a tandem when you can't swing the bike or mash the gears is absolutely brutal.
DNF. Boo. For a bike racer, my competitiveness is down at the low end of the spectrum. But DNFs really leave me disappointed. It was worse than suffering through the rain and cold; it was a flat feeling of being let down. It was a no-fault DNF, and there was no one to blame, not even myself. And it compounded the lingering feelings I had from the Ring of Fire 12/24 last September where hot temps did me in (that one was more my own fault, and I learned from the experience, but the disappointment was palpable).
What to do? Yes, plan and train even more and better and smarter for Ring of Fire. But I had so many eggs in that basket last year that my performance was devastating. Then I noticed Gina's sage advice to Jennifer about setting up a shrine to the crit gods to induce them to treat her better and realized that maybe I need my own shrine of the times, this one for the ultra (so far defined in my book as 12 hours) gods. So now it is set up, and in a spot where I will see it often. In addition to appeasing the ultra gods, it will remind me of Gina's wisdom and Jennifer's competitiveness--and hopefully some of each of those will rub off on me.