What’re all those letters about? Well, the literal translation is “Did Not Start/Dead F*cking Last versus Did Not Finish/Disqualified”, and those acronyms are commonly used in bicycle race results, when no numeric placement can be identified. Having gotten my feet wet over the last few years as a professional cycling coach, I’ve had the opportunity to discuss the philosophy and psychology of racing (and goal development) with various intellectuals. It is not that I think a cyclist’s lifestyle is more quantifiable than the status quo; however, in being forced to consider the impact of one’s decisions in all actions, I believe cycling provides solutions where there would be an increasing void.
My personal interpretation relates these acronyms with an element of intention; that is, EFFORT. Basically, the largest obstacle in a race, is getting TO the event, itself. Finishing an event is the next greatest obstacle, which provides a great deal of satisfaction. The goals can also keep stacking, in smaller increments. Honor and good sportsmanship speak lengths about where your personal goals rest, and how much effort you are really willing to put forth. In essence, finishing dead last feels about the same as winning, when I look back on it. My memories are still in the smaller goals I’ve achieved, and there’s at least one thing I found to work on as a result of the race.
I have never considered numeric race results as an indication of success, as field size and conditions can vary widely. Satisfaction can be achieved with more specific goals: a particularly gnarly rockface descent, pacing a climb, nailing a twisty piece of singletrack without braking, etc. Therefore, it is important to pick events which suit your goals and skills, accordingly. And when the lack of opportunity arrives, just pick any race and focus on part of it. Numeric results may not provide the depth of satisfaction that one can achieve in a race situation, only giving a temporary interpretation. The decision to participate in the Art of Racing is a significant one. Success can be found in setting oneself against mother nature – a synergy of bike, mind and body – another good reason not to let recreational rides be replaced by competition entirely.