Dissection of a DNF

Tour De Cure, Chicagoland, 2017

I took this picture in a SAG vehicle yesterday afternoon.  I attempted the 100 mile route of the Chicagoland Tour De Cure on Sunday.  I made it 87 in before I SAGged out.  you don't always get to finish gloriously.  But a lot went wrong, some I could control, some I couldn't.

Start line, Tour De Cure Chicagoland, 2017

Start line, Tour De Cure Chicagoland, 2017

I knew the temps would be tipping 95F (35C).  What I didn't think about was the wind.  Looking at the weather history, it was 18 MPH (28.9  KPH) SSW wind, sustained.  The pavement was baking, the wind wasn't cooling, it was like riding in an oven for 5-6 hours.  They provided ice for water bottles, the ice would melt in 15 minutes and the liquid inside was warm in the mouth.

I think I may have gotten a heat related problem too.  There was a while I couldn't drink fluids at all, which I wrote off at the time.  I also suffer from a bad case of "athletic denial".  I could break my ankle, and keep playing the sport because "It's not too bad."  (which, incidentally, I've done...)  So when I asked the volunteers at a rest stop "Do I look ok?" I really NEEDED to know, because I'll keep going out of stubbornness.  I ended up taking an hour at one stop becasue I KNEW I was hurting from heat illness.  But even then, I pushed through it.

this is what I look like waiting for my body to cool down...

this is what I look like waiting for my body to cool down...

The final straw was the clock.  I knew that the finish line closed down at 4 PM.  I was at mile 85 at 2:55 PM.  Simple math, I needed to average 15 MPH, into a roaring headwind, in heat, not stopping at the last resupply, to finish on time.  It wasn't going to happen.  A SAG vehicle came up behind me (I must have looked bad, they had the passenger window down and did a VERY slow roll behind me), I flagged them down, we racked the bike and I took the ride back to the start.

The factors I could manage, I did.  I had PLENTY of Nuun, and invented a new flavor (21 oz. of water, 1/2 tablet of Fruit Punch, 1 full scoop of Nuun blueberry/strawberry  performance, quite tasty!)  I packed light food, even if I didn't use all of it.  I had sunscreen & sun sleeves to manage UV.  But I can't manage my physical size.  6'4" tall and 280 means I just can't shed heat.  Oh yeah, and diabetics can't physically manage the heat as well as everyone else, so that's a huge factor too.

...because salt stains are sexy...

...because salt stains are sexy...

I'd like to think that if 1 factor was different, I'da made it no problem.  No wind, no excessive heat, speed up my rest stop down time, I didn't have to deal with diabetes, something?  But that's wishful thinking.  The weather was the same for the other finishers of the 100 mile course, I just didn't make it.  It's a matter of learning now.  It's already forcing me to make new plans for the tour in August, but I think that might be for the better.

There is an epilogue to the story, I did get a finishers medal.

finishers medal

The SAG vehicle dropped us off at the parking lot.  I dumped everything in my car, and went back to claim a few things.  I happened by the finish line, and there was one woman still giving out medals to the stragglers crossing the line just before 4.  She asked me if I had gotten one.  I said I hadn't, and she handed me one.  I told her "I didn't finish."

She tapped my "Red Rider" jersey, the jersey that only the diabetic riders wear, and said "You earned it."  I'm in a mixed mind about that.  I don't like "participation awards", but I also get the sentiment.  Had I just opted for a metric century, I'da finished.  So I take some solace in that.

Re Rider Banner

Redemption will come in June, on the 22nd I'll be riding the Milwaukee Tour De Cure event, I'm signed up for 70.  And since it's so close to home, I'm planning on biking out there, riding it, and then home.  The route is one I've done several times, so I know it well.  So I'm hoping to have that glorious finish, using what I learned from this one.

In the meanwhile, the event staff were great!  There were no problems, the SAG vehicles were VERY visible, there were no water shortages, so technically it was flawless on the rider's end.  The weather?  Well, they can't help that.  So thank you to the staff for putting this one on.  See you all in Milwaukee!