Alison Dunlap is a certified Level II USAC Coach and has been working with athletes for five years. She runs a coaching business called Alison Dunlap Coaching, and has mountain bike camps in Moab, UT through the Alison Dunlap Adventure Camps. Alison is also a two-time Olympian, MTB World Champion, and 13-time National Champion. www.alisondunlap.com
Question: If I am having a difficult race when is it OK to DNF. Is it better to pull out and save my energy or is it bad to give up once I have started a race?
The answer to this question is easy. You never want to drop out of a race unless you have one of the following excuses:
1. Your bike is broken and is no longer rideable
2. You are deathly ill, throwing up, or running a fever
3. You’ve crashed and there is blood everywhere or you’ve broken a bone
If you’re just having a bad day, then grit your teeth and tough it out. You will have a lot more respect for yourself if you finish then if you drop out. Once you drop out of a race, it becomes easier to drop out of another. It is easy to race hard when you feel good. What makes a true champion is someone that finishes the race despite having the "worst day of his life”. Bike racing is incredibly difficult. Don’t give up on yourself because you think you’re having a bad day. The legs might come around and you might surprise yourself on the next lap. If you quit you’ll never know what might have happened.