DNF at Ironman
DNF at Ironman
The weather was punishingly hot, but that's not an excuse. I normally thrive on heat.
So the conditions that knocked many people out of the race had nothing to do with my DNF. My bike failed me. From the first turn of the pedal, I could tell something was dreadfully wrong. There was a clicking and ticking sound coming from the cassette/ rear derailleur and I could not stay in one gear. The chain kept jumping all over the cassette. Plus, my front derailleur was very balky too. It wanted to stay only on the small chain ring and would shift to the big ring or the granny only with great difficulty. Even so, I did the first 40 miles in two hours. But then the bike began to act as though the brake pads were rubbing. I was pushing very hard to keep my speed up. It was very much like riding into a stiff wind. This really became a problem when I did have to climb hills or ride into a stiff wind. And so I began to slow down. I did the first loop in 3:18. I had expected sub-3:00.
On my second lap things really started to go bad and on the last big climb of the day, I finally got off my bike as I could barely make enough headway to keep the bike upright. Plus, the clicking and rubbing sounds were much louder. I discovered that the chain had jumped off one on the cogs on the rear derailleur. I reset it, but the rear wheel still would not turn freely. It would only turn as I applied pressure and the rubbing sound was still very loud. On a hunch, I checked and discovered that somehow the wheel had become misaligned and the clicking and rubbing was my chain wearing a grove into my frame. Once I straightened that out, the wheel turned freely.
But I also discovered that I had a very low rear tire. I tried to pump it back up, but the compact pump I brought simply would not put more than 30 or so pounds into the tire. I got fed up and just rode on the low tire. I got to the 86 mile aid station and set to working on my bike again. I removed the little nut that supports the stem and set it carefully on my gloves so I could find it again. I took out the old tube and discovered that the problem was faulty construction. The stem had separated from the tube and allowed a slow leak. As I was changing the tube, a volunteer came over to lend assistance and inadvertently kicked my gloves, launching the little nut into a wheat field, where it still lies, unfound. I tried and tried, but there was no way I could get even 10 pounds into my new tube without that nut. Finally on a hunch, I checked the box containing my patch kit and found that I had an old nut in there.
I got the bike rolling, with low pressure was on my way. I had probably lost an hour on the side of the road by this time, not including the speed l lost when my bike was giving me so much resistance.
I got about 2 miles down the road, when I found one of the bike tech vehicles and borrowed on of their pumps and got my pressure up to 120, where it belongs.
My bike worked fine now, but I was totally dispirited and could not muster much energy or enthusiasm. I had been aiming for a good time and now I was just looking for a tee-shirt.
My luck failed me again, just six miles from the finish. I went totally flat at the 106 mile mark. Now I was in danger of missing the bike cutoff. Riders arriving after 5:00 PM are disqualified. I removed by tube and left it hanging on the 106 mile sign and again waited for a tech support car to come by. I had no replacement tubes and my pump didn't work. Another rider gave me one of the two spare tubes he had so I was able to repair the tire so far as I could without a pump. Maybe ten minutes later the support guys came by, pumped me up and sent me on my way. When I got back to the transition area, I was just half an hour ahead of the bike cutoff and thoroughly bummed. I couldn't face 26.2 miles with my enthusiasm so low, so I just dropped out. That was definitely a mistake. One should not make decisions in the heat of passion. I should have started the run and just let my emotions cool down.
Oh well. There's always next year. I've already signed up for next year's race so watch for me again.