Last year I was shanghaied into participating in a Duathlon. Before I knew what was happening, I was registered and expected to participate. And participate I did. And it was one of my favorite running events that I participated in during the 2010 season. Probably because a good 50% of it was not running. So when we signed up for events this year I did so with full consent.
Last year, the weather was beautiful. Sunny and bordering on warm, a lovely late April day. The down side was a ferocious headwind for the second half of the bike. We started looking at weather reports for this year's event, and it didn't look good:
Saturday...Cloudy and breezy with rain tapering off. High 60 F. Winds WSW at 16 mph, gusting to 30mph.
Yes, WSW is the direction that we bike to get back to town. It's a 14 mile out and back. And while having a tailwind can be fun, that headwind sucked. And apparently it made an impression. Our friend Val said she wouldn't do the event again unless they changed the course. Her husband Eric was game, but earlier this week wasn't feeling well and begged off. My wife told me for 3 days straight how awful it would be. And then the morning of the event decided she wasn't going. I also got a text from a coworker who was signed up saying he also was going to call it. I decided to go solo, with Jim's useful catch phrase running through my head. "What's the worst that could happen?"
It rained, hard, the whole time I was driving south to Cannon Falls. But somewhat miraculously, the rain tapered to almost nothing as I pulled into the parking lot. I got my bike to the stuff storage area, took off my raincoat and felt pretty smart for deciding to go. I ran the first two miles without a lot of issues and I was happy with my performance. I transitioned onto the bike and felt pretty good. The wind was more of a cross wind, and I was anticipating a better second half on the bike than last year. Not long after I passed the marker for 6 miles on the bike, I noticed a strange sort of shimmy from the back end. Soon I could see the 7 mile turn around point for the bike portion. About that same time, I realized I was getting a flat rear tire.
After 10+ years of being a cautious, prepared cycle commuter I found myself up the creek without a paddle. Or more accurately, 7 miles out of town without a pump or spare tube. I tried to remember if anybody had mentioned a sag wagon for the event and decided I couldn't. So I started walking.
I walked about 2 miles when I heard a car slow down behind me. It was the Dakota County Sheriff who had been directing traffic at the turnaround. He offered me a ride and I gratefully accepted. What would probably have taken me another 2 hours turned into a 10-15 minute ride in the back of the squad. Once I was back at the transition I didn't even consider doing the remaining run portion. I grabbed my stuff along with a hot dog and hit the road. The spirit was willing, but the equipment was weak. But, DNF is better than DNS.