Friday, April 15, 2011

Twin Bing's Laterne Rouge

Finishing last in a road race isn't that bad.

photo courtesy of Lois Brunnert

I mean, it's a little sucky, but really, it's not without its merits.

For one, the last place finisher gets the most out of their entrance fee.

For another, last-placers get lots of extra attention.

For instance, there's at least one compulsory visit from a race marshal who's sweeping the course for stragglers. The stragglers will recognize the official as the one who sidles up alongside at 8 MPH in a pickup truck, and while putting an ice cold Coca-Cola in the cup holder, asks you if everything's alright.

Of course everything's not alright. You stink, you're bonking and you want to burn your bicycle at that point. But you nod your head and say everything's alright so you can resume getting every penny's worth of your entrance fee.

Another benefit is that you're almost famous for 15 seconds.

It's human nature to scan the podium for the victors,
or to ponder how many in your category finished ahead of you,
but you can bet your sweet-bippy that nearly everyone dredges the bottom line to see the guy who finished Dead Freaking Last.
I was that guy, the one who finished DFL at this year's Twin Bing Classic road race.

But hang on, there's one more merit to finishing last.

In the MWCC team sprinter van on our way home, Mark Savery reminded me of the prestige of finishing DFL as he said, "that's sweet dude, you're the Twin Bing Lanterne Rouge."

A few miles down the road, I quietly Googled 'Lanterne Rouge' on my smart phone:

The Lanterne Rouge is the competitor in last place in a cycling race such as the Tour de France. The phrase comes from the French "Red Lantern" and refers to the red lantern hung on the caboose of a railway train, which conductors would look for in order to make sure none of the couplings had become disconnected.

In the Tour de France the rider who finishes last, rather than dropping out along the way, is accorded a distinction. Riders may compete to come last rather than just near the back. Often the rider who comes last is remembered, while those a few places ahead are forgotten. The revenue the last rider will generate from later appearance fees can be greater than had he finished second to last
reference: Wikipedia

Certainly, there won't be any appearance fees for being Twin Bing's Lanterne Rouge, but I'll take the street creds, man. Thanks, Mark.

The truth is that it's no big deal to finish last in a bike race. Especially among amateurs, it's really not much different than winning. Sure, it feels great to stand on the podium, but in a couple days, nobody will care who won or who came DFL.

Still, I don't plan on making this a reoccurring event. Hopefully, what I took away from Twin Bing will improve my racing skills and keep my name from reappearing on the bottom line.

But if not?

Then, DFL Baby, the Lanterne Rouge will be all mine.

Happy Friday everyone.


  1. Congrats! DFL is better than DNF, and way better than DNS.

    In railroading terms, "Laterne Rouge" would be a "FRED".

  2. in 5 years no one will remember (except shim) so you should be good to go :D

  3. I took the DFL honors last year and felt the same way. You forget about the peeps that didn't finish. Those folks count too.

  4. Well, I can assure you that if I register for TdH, there will be stiff competition for the Red Lantern!

  5. It could have been worse you could have been......