A Note from Fatty: Today’s race report comes to you from Jeffrey R. I love his story and course interpretation. You’ve got to stick around for what his course breadcrumb looks like.
I’ve always wanted to ride the 100Miles of Nowhere but didn’t ever want to do it alone and could never find a group to ride with me (looks like they were the smart ones). And I almost didn’t participate this year. When registration opened up and I saw the price, I was forced to think really hard about it. But, then I decided that Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches are highly under-rated. And besides, the money would be going to a worthy cause.
I had to work at my daughter’s preschool the day of the actual race so I opted to ride on Sunday. No problem. I still figured I would finish before everyone else in my division.
5am Sunday morning. Woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed. Or something like it.
Now, this is a one car family so I’d be getting myself to the start line. But, I figured I could count the miles to and from home and that’d be OK with the race officials. Besides, I’d be carrying all my own water and snacks with me so the miles weren’t free. I loaded up my backpack with a couple extra large water bottles, some trailmix and some of the swag from the box and headed out. 7.5 miles later and I was at the start line.
Yup, still dark outside. That’s not even the sunrise, it’s the beautiful glow from the horse track behind the hill.
So, off I go. It was still dark out so I stayed on the perimeter and interior paved paths for the first few laps until it started getting lighter. And then it was time to hit the trails.
Around and around I went. And it was all easy cruising until about 8:30am. That’s apparently when the doors are opened and they release the dogs walking their humans and the coffee zombies. And the dogs walking their coffee zombies. So the speed came down and the calls of, “on your left” and “bicycle” could be heard throughout the park.
The great thing about the Spectacular Berkeley Marina Mixed-Terrain, Gravel Grinder, Cyclocross Extravaganza is that there is no set course. You are free to ride wherever you want and that keeps it interesting. You decide when to go off road or stay on. You decide which trails to take and if you go left or right. You decide which trail has the least amount of traffic to steer clear of the coffee zombies.
Let’s try this trail. Let’s see what’s at the top of this hill. I wonder where this goes. Oops. Not gonna take that one again. And luckily, there were no wrong turns because they all led back to the same place. Right where I’d dropped off my backpack full of snacks and extra water.
But then, right about noon, my preferred pit location was filled with spectators who had come to lend a helping hand. And they came with food. Lots and lots of food. And PIE!!! Look at that beautiful apple pie. Yummy.
They, of course, thought I was crazy when I told them how far I still had to ride.
And all too soon it was time to head back out onto the course. My 4 year old daughter brought her bike and led me for a lap. And then it was time for them to return home and I was once again left alone with my thoughts.
Round and round I went. Back and forth. Up and over. Around and through. The day was getting long and the wind was starting to build. Less off road. More on road. Who’s idea was this anyway? No wonder none of my friends ever wanted to join me. This is just ridiculous. And the miles ticked by. And the wind grew stronger. And the loneliness set in.
And then, suddenly, it was time to head back home. 95 miles done. If I took a couple shortcuts, I’d be home right on target. I grabbed my backpack from where I’d locked it and was glad that it was lighter than when I started out in the morning. Pedal home. Watch out for traffic. Can I catch that light? No, Ok, time for a mini break. Green light, time to go again. Home again. Whew.
And I looked at my GPS and I’d ridden 101.5 miles.
Exactly 1.5 miles too far. Which is exactly 1 lap of the Berkeley Marina. Sigh.
A Note from Fatty: Today’s 100 Miles of Nowhere race report comes to you courtesy of Martin B, who first caught my attention when he posted this shot of himself on Twitter as he was riding Ragbrai, on a fat bike:
Clearly, this is a man to be reckoned with. Plus I like his choice in clothing and his hair style, for some reason.
Anyway, when he started tweeting that he was going to do his 100 Miles of Nowhere as a gravel grinder, I got excited…and a little bit suspicious. Excited if he was going to really make it a “nowhere” ride—a true short course going around, on a gravel course, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the night, sounds about as perfectly “100 Miles of Nowhere” as is possible.
But I was also suspicious: was this going to really be what he was going to do? Or was he going to just do an epic 100 mile point to point at night and call it his “100 Miles of Nowhere?”
Note that there’d be nothing wrong with that; it just wouldn’t be quite as “nowhere,” as it were.
As it turns out, I had no reason to be suspicious.
100MoN: Winner of the Iowa County Gravel Grinder In the Dead of Night Division
2014 has been the year of gravel. I dipped my toe into the gravel scene last year and was hooked. I bought a fat bike and rode the gravel roads all winter, signed up to ride Dirty Kanza (the 100 mile “Half Pint” version), and even rode RAGBRAI on my fat bike.
I was having a ball.
So, when Elden announced the date for the 2014 100MoN, I knew I had to ride it and I knew exactly what that ride would be. It had to be on gravel. And to make it more interesting I decided to do it at night because I needed experience riding in the dark.
In hindsight I should have thought about it a little bit more.
Since I’d done several century rides this year I didn’t give much thought to preparation. I’d ridden Dirty Kanza in May and the memory of my suffering had long since been forgotten.
It didn’t take long for my legs to remind me that I should have prepared more.
With less than a week until the ride, I started thinking about my nutrition plan, what I was going to wear, and what music I wanted on my iPod. My box of swag for entering the 100MoN came in handy. I supplemented it with some peanut butter sandwiches, some small cans of Coke and baggies of almonds and peanut M&Ms and pretzels.
The day before the ride, I was ready, except I hadn’t yet chosen a route. I knew I’d ride somewhere west of town but not much beyond that. So off I went Friday afternoon to do some reconnaissance.
Friday afternoon reconnaissance 15 miles west of Williamsburg, Iowa. Love the jersey!
There were several possibilities, but all had tons of climbing. Finally, I found a loop that measured a mile square and had “just” 304 feet of climb for each 4-mile loop. That works out to around 7600 ft of climb (Eric Gunnerson: I was happy to get it down to this).
My route was in the middle of nowhere. Five farm homes and two abandoned homes.
Up and down. Up and down. 7600 feet of climbing.
I had a four-mile loop with just over a mile of “Level B” road. In Iowa those are the roads that receive no maintenance. They can be full of ruts, random rocks and debris, and usually no gravel whatsoever.
“Minimum maintenance” roads = Primitive.
I mentioned my route to someone who lives near there, and she cautioned me to be on my guard for coyotes. “They love to hunt along those “B” roads. Bring mace,” she advised.
Day of Reckoning
The forecast called for calm and nighttime temps hovering right at 50 degrees. Perfect. I loaded up the car and headed out to my staging location. At the edge of town, I realized I’d left my warm clothes and food back at the house. Damn. I’m glad I went back.
I got to “home base” around six. A family on the route was gracious enough to let me use their property as my headquarters. Sunset was around 6:30. A riding partner of mine, Mike, showed up to ride the first 25 miles with me.
Mike and I hit the road around 6:30. We did one lap before darkness took over. The moon set shortly after the sun, so I had dark skies the whole night. One lap done, no problem. Laps two, three, four, easy. We took a nature break on lap five (20 miles) and pulled in again after lap six. It was 8:30 and Mike was heading home to heat, food and TV.
Mike (on the left) looks happy. He’s heading home after riding 24 miles.
My lights were working well. I had no trouble seeing the road and any hazards that lie ahead. About two months ago I’d bought a Salsa Fargo with the intention of using it for long gravel rides. Tonight would be my longest ride on the Fargo. It was comfortable all night and descended the gravel roads like a champ.
Love this bike!
Around mile 35 a group of deer ran across the road just ahead of me. You’ve all seen Bambi.
Well, up close and personal Bambi is a freight train that could send me flying into the next county. Now I’ve got to worry about deer bursting from the fields and man-eating coyotes.
I learned a few things about riding at night.
- It gets really cold in low-lying areas.
- You can’t tell how steep a hill is if you can’t see it.
- You can’t see what you’re eating.
- You can’t see your Garmin so you never know what speed you’re going. I like knowing my cadence, average speed, climb, yada, yada, yada. But tonight I would be in the dark when it came to my riding performance (pun intended).
What I saw for nine hours
At mile 48, I picked up a baggie of almonds and M&Ms and dropped about five unwrapped snack-size Snicker Bars into my Revelate Designs Gas Tank. Trick or Treat to me!
I ate the rest of a Subway sandwich, and got a fresh bottle filled with CarboRocket. This is my new favorite drink. Raspberry Lemonade is wonderful.
You’ll note I’m not mentioning my hardworking support crew. That’s because there was no support crew. My friends were home in bed.
It was now around 11pm and time to start the second half of my 100MoN. Only 13 laps to go. I noticed it had gotten really cold. This didn’t feel like 50 degrees. I learned later that it was in the high 30s. I hadn’t planned on temps that cold.
I felt warmer after a couple of laps. Sometime around mile 60 I dropped my water bottle. As I turned around to pick it up I noticed something large and black coming straight for me. I started screaming, hoping to scare the beast away. Was it a dog? A panther? A raccoon? Nope. It was my shadow. Headlights on dark nights can play tricks on you. Trick or Treat on me!
I picked up the water bottle. I didn’t bother wiping off the dust because I knew it would have a fresh coating in a few miles anyway. Down to the bottom of turn two. Stay to the right and miss the washboards. Halfway up the hill, get to the middle of the road where there’s less gravel.
Crest the hill and stay in the middle because it’s smoother there. Go another half-mile and turn south at the cemetery. This is a little downhill segment that I could get up to 22 miles an hour. Up over the first two stair step hills at a good clip, then crawl up step three at 5 miles an hour.
Then it’s downhill again at 22 miles an hour. Turn west on the “B” road and hang on.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Here, the video kind of tells the story:
I stopped at mile 72 for something to eat and sat inside the heated workshop that my host family opened up for me to use (flush toilet!).
Done Is Not Done
I was shivering. It was 1:00 am. By my calculations I could be at this until 4 am. I had hoped to finish around two. I went outside.
I looked at my bike and said to myself, ‘I’m done.’
But it didn’t seem right to quit at 72 miles. Who does that? I would feel better if I quit at 75, so I got back on the bike for one more lap.
Somewhere around mile 80 I spied two glowing eyes on the road ahead. Coyote? A Cougar? I could barely make out the shape of its sloped back. My blood went cold(er): Hyena!!!
Then the deer turned its head and walked away. Those weren’t the eyes of any normal deer; he was on this earth to claim the souls of those unlucky to cross its path.
Of that I’m sure.
Aftermath of my encounter with a soul-sucking deer with glowing eyes
Then the countdown was on. Five laps to go. Then four. I was going to miss the four spent shotgun shells lying in the road. I was going to miss the dirt-caked vegetation on the side of the road that look strangely like dirt-covered snow that refuses to melt in late spring.
At 3:30 am, I pulled into the farm drive for the last time. I took a few pictures and let folks know I had finished.
Riding at night is dark. It’s lonely and quiet. The stars were spectacular. I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of doing when I’m cold, tired and hungry.
Thanks, Fatty. You make cycling interesting.
I’m glad it’s over.
I actually rode faster than the 0.2mph this shows!
A Note from Fatty: Today’s 100 Miles of Nowhere race report comes from Jeff DeVries AKA “ClyedeinKS.” It’s super double awesome. Enjoy!
Oh, where to begin for this writeup?
Could it be that for this past year I have had an amazing amount of ride envy in reading ride and race reports, as my riding has taken an incredible hit with other activities seeming to take precedence?
Should I mention that leading up to the weekend Strava laughs at me when I see my yearly totals of 91 miles and 9 rides (clearly short rides—as time allowed with baseball coaching, rides with my son, and a 6 mile Corporate Challenge TT race (podiumed that one in 2nd place!))?
Could it be that this is my 3rd year for the 100 MoN and neither of the other two reached a full 100 miles (last year’s Spin & Bid ride was the closest, with cramping and many pedestrians limiting the total to 66 miles).
Could it be that I have never been able to finish a century ride yet with MS ride coordinators determining that rain and mother nature would prevail, limiting me to a 75-mile personal best a couple of years ago?
I guess that’s a good lead-in to know where my base stood, but this year presented some other challenges as well. Weather was a concern as we’d already experienced rainy days in the 40’s but this past weekend was looking to cooperate: dry, sunny, and in the 80’s.
The local weather never seems to mention the wind speed.
I am currently extremely limited in time (who isn’t?), with any spare time devoted to studying for an advanced certification exam coming up in the next weeks (just a bit of stress knowing it carries a 60% success rate for initial takers). With the studying being a continued need this weekend, I knew I was needing to be forced onto the trainer.
Yes there was going to be some studying during this ride, with the book propped up against my aero bars, but as the ride was starting, it was going to wait.
My sons decided they wanted to be in the basement with me, with my youngest saying “I’m gonna watch you race Daddy.” I figured it would be hard reasoning with him and trying to explain a race on the trainer, so I let it go. They both decided it would be movie time while I rode so we began watching Captain America – The Winter Soldier.
We had fun sharing a mask through the movie.
This day of riding was going to need be split up, due to a “Costume Piano Recital”— interesting concept indeed, but it went well and I had 35.02 miles done in an hour and 25 minutes. I remembered why the trainer is such a dreaded, but also very effective tool. I also realized my lack of riding time was requiring a saddle break-in period.
Not a fun realization.
Back to the Pain Cave
Following the recital and some family time, it was back to pain cave on the trainer. As I got back on, and now repositioning my saddle to somewhere near my diaphragm, I determined I was dedicating this year’s ride: to remember a Grandfather taken by cancer, to honor my Father who has survived and overcome his battle with Leukemia, Camp Kesem because of course the ride supports them but also because of the incredibly awesome work they do, and also for a friend battling cancer (and other challenges) in hopes to help fuel their fight.
Last year’s Spin & Bid 100 MoN truly came together with the additional silent auction, volunteer support, and city approval for the event through the assistance of a past patient and friend. This individual has been battling cancer for I believe the past year (maybe year and half) with many ups and downs, and through this weekend she was going through procedures and battling stays within the ICU, while recovering from the procedures.
I got into a groove on the trainer Saturday early evening and churned out another 40.04 miles in an hour and 41 minutes. I had originally planned for 25 miles but the mindset for ridiing for others shot me past that and ultimately helped me for the next day, with more time constraints leaving a small window of time. But this ride was going to completed outside on an approximately 1.5 mile loop.
Sunday afternoon I needed to stop at a work location and work on some equipment, so my ride was heading there. As I mentioned earlier, we were blessed with sunny temps in the mid 80’s.
I was stopped at a red light nearing my clinic and realized I was destined for more pain. The picture doesn’t give justice to the weather channel app, stating wind at 24mph. So to move forward into that, must I be going at least 25 mph to creep ahead? Yea, I know my physics memory wasn’t accurate and my mind was playing games with me!
As I climbed back onto my bike and now felt very comfortable with my saddle positioned squarely between my shoulder blades, I was ready to finish my multi-event. Of course it started into that headwind. As I pre-planned this route, I believed it to be a rectangle with the short ends only affected by the wind.
When I got on the course, I realized I was very wrong and it was more oval shaped and much more into the wind than I had planned for. Oddly the way the wind was blowing and without any true tree or buildings to block the wind I seemed to have a tail wind for only about a 1/3 of the loop – but the 1/3 was heaven-sent.
Tucking into the aero bars wasn’t seeming to have any benefit, could be due to my bike fit resulting from tinkering and trial-and-error? or again riding with my saddle now creeping higher, encroaching the neck? This pain in a headwind gave me an analogy for my friend’s fight and others battling the same. I hear many times “why me” or “why isn’t this working” or “what am I doing wrong” while a twisted natural occurring mutation is battling their body and their wills. I was facing naturally occurring headwinds and body pains that were battling my body and will.
I knew now there wasn’t anything stopping this ride until I completed 100 miles.
Of course, I again needed to be getting to another obligation and time was running down. I had roughly 5 more miles to go and knew with the headwinds I would be facing I would be quicker getting back to the house riding home and then later going back for the car. I had more tailwind and crosswind for that remaining portion but I was homeward bound. After hearing songs on the Ipod about surviving, winning, being the best, etc., it was absolute karma that for the final 1.5 miles a song came on that I first heard at the LiveStrong Challenge ‘06 in Austin and I always go back to when needing a pick me up tune and realizing what others are going through – Wide Awake’s “Maybe Tonight, Maybe Tomorrow.” It brought me home WINNING my event, not a one-day century, but more than doubling my mileage for the year, and hoping to inspire one individual.
My end total was 101.05 miles in 5 hours and 8 minutes of riding time (it’s too hard to determine total duration though with the required breaks).
You know who you are and I KNOW there is nothing that can knock you down, there is no pain that you can not endure, there is no stopping your ultimate WIN, there is no opponent that break your stare and focus, there is support around you and we’ll hold you up through the remaining procedures. Your WIN is nearing despite the thoughts of failures. As my ride went into the final 25% to win that’s you are, if not further, YOU GOT THIS!!
Thank you once again Fatty for this event, and for this year taking my mind in so many directions!
PS from Fatty: Someone who wished to be left unnamed sent me the following, asking if I’d include it at the bottom of ClydeInKS’s story.
You have all just read about Jeff’s journey to 100 MON. But what Jeff left out is the courage, strength, encouragement he has given me to battle my 100 miles. Jeff, as well as all of you, are angels. Jeff’s ride I know has just inspired me and gave me the strength to push through my last miles to this win.
I want all of you to know, he has been a true support, friend, and has stayed on the ride for much longer than 100 miles to keep me on my journey. For that, Jeff, I thank you, I will win and for all those riding, just know the ride may be for enjoyment, for honoring someone or just for a good cause, but for me the ride Jeff took, the pain , the push and effort he gave has meant the world to me. To all of you and to Jeff… Thank you.
A Note from Fatty: You’ve read about my stepdaughter, The Swimmer, here before (here and here and here, for a few examples).
Well, now she’s all grown up and going to college.
And while she’s there, she’s spending a couple afternoons each week helping kids—most of whom have parents that don’t speak a lot of English—with their homework.
These are kids without any money, and they’re working hard to overcome some pretty formidable obstacles. So I really love it that The Swimmer is spending her time helping them move forward like this.
And right now, just for this one day, The Swimmer could use our help. Here’s a letter she posted on Facebook, explaining:
Mondays and Wednesdays are my favorite days of the week.
That’s because those are the days are when I volunteer at the Hser Ner Moo Community Center in South Salt Lake City, helping kids in underprivileged families with their homework. It’s a safe environment where they can meet and play with their friends.
Today, while we volunteers gathered 60 young kids together to make the announcements, one young girl raised her hand and innocently asked, “When are we getting Halloween costumes?”
I hated having to respond, “The center didn’t get enough funds this year to buy Halloween costumes.”
That sucks. These wonderful kids don’t have much—not much at all, in fact. But they should at least have Halloween costumes.
And if you’ll help me, it’s not too late to get them those costumes.
We, together, can make a difference in these kids lives. Will you please donate at the link below? $20 will get a kid a whole costume. $10 is great too. If you can donate $5, awesome. Whatever you can.
ALL of this money will go to their costumes. All of it. So go to this link and donate:
[Goal achieved; link now removed]
It’s my stepdad’s (Elden Nelson) Paypal account, so don’t worry about the name showing his email address.
There are 60 kids I spend time with every week who don’t think they’re going to have a Halloween this year. I love the idea of them finding out that they are.
Some friends and family have donated, but she’s only a quarter of the way to her goal of $1200. I’m hoping that Friends of Fatty can take up the slack. But we’ve got to do it today; they’re either buying or not buying costumes tomorrow.
10:45AM update: We’re at $907 — 3/4 of the way there. Thanks to everyone who’s donated!
11:30AM update: We’ve hit and surpassed the $1200 mark; I’m declaring victory and shutting down the links. Thank you to everyone who donated; you are incredibly generous.
Another Note from Fatty: Today’s race report comes to you from Mike H, to whom I am awarding the first-ever “Didn’t have to edit this at all, not even by adding additional paragraph breaks” award. Nice going, Mike!
100MoN Race Report: Winner of the Paradoxical Norwegian Alaskan (Out Of Canada) Open Water Bandit Division
Last year, I participated in my first 100 Miles of Nowhere: 220 mind-numbing laps of insanity around a 0.45-mile course. I loved every minute of it. So naturally, I had big plans for this year.
What could I do to top that? Shorter loops had been done. Insane hill-climby loops had been done. Even completely stationary rides had been done.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that I have achieved the impossible: a 0.0000-mile course in which the rider finishes 100 miles away from the start.* It’s 100 Miles of Nowhere that actually goes Somewhere. The mind boggles! Even more amazingly, the entire course is on water, miles from any land. How can this be??
*Actual event not 100 miles; see below.
The Best-Laid Plans…
Of course, great plans rarely go off without a hitch. I hit a major snag before this even got started.
Like all of you, on registration day I dutifully hammered Twin Six’s website to the point of falling over in a pile of melted electronics and smoke. I was pretty sure I got through because my credit card had been charged.
Or so I thought.
Fast forward a month, and I noticed there was no charge from Twin Six on my CC statement. Panic!
Contact with Twin Six confirmed my fear: while my card was temporarily authorized, no order was actually placed. And 100 MoN was now definitely sold out. Imagine one of those great photos of Fatty with an exaggerated frown on his face here.
[A Note from Fatty: Here, I can help you with that:]
There was only one thing to do: bandit the race; I just hoped that I wouldn’t get kicked off the course by race officials.
I planned to wear my 100 MoN t-shirt from last year to help look like I belonged. With any luck, nobody would notice the difference between that and this year’s snazzy new jersey.
Aside from that little detail of registration, the plan was relatively simple:
- Day 0: take a vacation to the Pacific Northwest
- Day 1: run a marathon somewhere outside Seattle
- Day 2: get to Vancouver and board a cruise ship to Alaska
- Day 3: ride bandit in the 100 Miles of Nowhere
That’s right, my 100 Miles of Nowhere took place entirely in the fitness center of a cruise ship. Clever, huh? This was my view:
Since stationary bikes are notoriously bad at estimating equivalent distance, I decided to measure my progress against the actual distance traveled by the ship while I rode. We cruised at about 18 mph, which would be a reasonable approximation of the speed I might ride on a real bike.
I settled in, loaded up a few movies on the tablet, fired up the GPS, and started the race.
The ride itself was pretty uneventful. The race officials didn’t bother me, though clearly they posted signs designed to scare off bandits:
I’m sure registered participants were told to ignore the signs, as of course it would take much longer than 30 minutes to complete the race.
Additionally, the stationary bike would shut off after 30 minutes of use, another obvious tactic designed to thwart bandits (I’ll bet the official race bibs had some sort of chip in them that would deactivate this feature for registered riders). But I didn’t let that stop me; I used it as a nice reminder to get up and get a drink of water before going back to work.
Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off
Suddenly, after exactly fifty miles, the race director called off the event. To be honest, I was shocked. The official statement was that “the seats on these gym bikes are excruciatingly uncomfortable,” followed by: “Fifty miles is more than enough just 2 days after running a marathon; what, did you think I was going to jump in the ocean and swim 2.4 miles to complete the reverse Ironman?”
I don’t know what they were talking about, but hey, that was ok with me. And guess what? I still won my division. It was kind of weird that they even had a Norwegian Alaskan (Out Of Canada) Open Water Bandit division, but I’ll take it!
Here’s the actual tracklog of the event (exciting, huh?):
And here’s a zoomed out view:
I’ve never run or ridden a race as a bandit before, and I certainly don’t plan to do so in the future. To make this endeavor as official as possible, given the circumstances, I decided to make a donation directly to Camp Kesem. Apparently the internet gods do not want to make this easy for me:
So a paper check is in the mail. Hopefully it doesn’t get lost or anything.
Finally, I have to give a big shout of thanks to Megan B at Twin Six for making sure I was at the top of the list to buy an official 100MoN jersey after all the race kits went out to registered participants. It just came the other day, and I’ll definitely wear it with pride.
PS: The cruise was great. We had beautiful weather, got lots of gorgeous photos, and most importantly: ate loads of dessert (I had to replenish my dangerously depleted dessert reserves, you know?).
A Note from Fatty: I’ll be posting 100 Miles of Nowhere reports all this week, while I work hard on a project I’ll be unveiling very soon. It’s a project that’s been a long time in the making, I’m very proud of it, and you should be able to have it in your hands by Christmas.
Another Note from Fatty: Today’s 100 Miles of Nowhere race report is written by Kristie P, but is about Bobbie R.
The Noodle Made Her Do It
It was Fatty’s idea but the reason Bobbie got on the bike at all is because the @thenoodleater made her do it. The “Vehemence of Suckage” she wrote, as a descriptor of the ride a few years ago, May 2009. Janeen rode her bike indoors for 100 miles. The true spirit of the 100 Miles of nowhere challenge by the Fat Cyclist, Elden Nelson is to ride 100 miles in a small and ridiculous circuit. An indoor trainer definitely qualified as a small circuit.
The following year she did a small loop circuit. The year after a one-mile circuit of hill repeats at 8% grade. The year after 5 back-to-back days of 100 miles riding to a town called Nowhere.
So why does it matter what Janeen does? It matters because she writes and video blogs about her adventures. Her writing takes you inside that place in your head where stupid plans happen that are both physically and mentally challenging. She captures the quirkiness of the moments, of the suffering, in a way that makes you say, “Hey, I want to suffer like that.”
And Bobbie did want to suffer like that.
No More Misses
Bobbie has signed up for the “100 MoN” for a couple years only to take a pass on the event for varying reasons that life hands your way. This year was not to be missed.
For 2014 Fatty decided that the inane race event would be held in October rather than May. It is still a fundraiser for Camp Kesem and the sponsorship list has grown. I think the tipping point this year was the new sponsor of The Sufferfest. Fatty and Twin Six teamed up with a pretty rocking jersey to commemorate this race. Gu Energy, CarboRocket, The Feed, Banjo Brothers, DZ Nuts, with a race plate by Bike Monkey. On October 18, 2014, Bobbie would race the nearly mile loop around Black Rock Estates, our neighborhood.
Morning came and Bobbie and I got up, dressed, and had the usual bacon and egg breakfast. At about 7:30 we hit the street. Bobbie took off and I made a u-turn back to the house.
I had forgotten my helmet, duh.
The Plan, Executed
The plan was to ride your own race around and around for 100 miles. Bobbie had downloaded the new audiobook by Cary Elwes, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride to keep her company. This turned out to be a brilliant idea. If you are going to ride in insane circles for hours on end, a story about the making of the greatest adventure is surely good company.
It seemed that if we were going to do a race we should start in the race corral. So here is Bobbie is the starting corral with all her competitors.
It was a cold morning, hovering in the fifties, and overcast. Bobbie and I were split on the course so I didn’t see much of her.
Around and around.
The route, when we walk the block every day, is a straightaway followed by a slight uphill and then downhill, then a smaller straightaway, then another uphill/downhill.
This never seems like a big deal when we walk the dogs. It didn’t seem like a big deal the first 5 or so miles until the realization hit. The fastest you could ever pick up steam was the longer downhill and you would only top out at 20 miles before the turn. The straightaway was actually a slight incline so 16 mph was probably the best you could do here.
After 10 miles we met up and flipped direction, now riding the left hand circuit. This had a steeper climb but longer downs.
I pulled off at about 12 miles and decided this day was not for me. Bobbie carried on—with Cary Elwes keeping her company—around and around.
10 miles one direction, flip, 10 miles the other direction.
Here she is somewhere around twenty-ish miles, after Mom got up: a snack break of fresh cinnamon rolls.
And then, back at it:
Around the 50 mile mark, Bobbie came in for lunch and had a bit of a break. The hills were adding up and she was already at 3,000+ feet of climbing.
And the wind had started to pick up. The wind had made the left hand circuit a longer headwind direction so she had switched exclusively to right hand circuits.
The boredom was growing.
The Crowd Goes Wild
Back on out Bobbie plugged on, while I stayed inside to do chores.
Then, about 90 minutes later I wandered out with an armload of snacks and drinks and found a rider coming around the corner. We stopped for a chat and a drink and then back on the route for Bobbie.
Around and around.
Anita, the resident musician, was finally up and ready for the day. It was getting close to the time Bobbie should be just about finished. We grabbed a tuba and trombone and went out to the corner.
Each time Bobbie came around we played some kinda fanfare (since I don’t play tuba it was definitely some kind of something!)
One of the neighbors, Kris Lewis, and her daughter stopped by.
“What’s going on?”
“Oh, Bobbie is riding 100 miles around the block and we are playing music for her.”
Bobbie was nearing the last couple laps so Anita raced back to the house and got a table and some water to look like a snack stop.
Around Bobbie came and we cheered with music, cute stuffed flowers, a honking neighbor, and a table of water.
Another neighbor stopped as she drove by, “What’s going on?” We responded the same way and the teenage daughter sitting in the passenger seat looked like this must be the stupidest idea ever, lips curled over braces. We smiled.
Finally, the last lap arrived and Bobbie completed a hundred miles in the headwind, on hills, in a boring-ass loop around the neighborhood. Her book ended as she was done and we all went back to the house.
Bobbie ended up with about 7,000 feet of climbing on that hill we don’t think much of. The wind held steady throughout the afternoon at 12-15 mph and gusts up to 20 mph.
The 100 miles of nowhere was a tough riding day. It sucked. It was hard. It was done. The vehemence of suckage was experienced.
A smile spread across Bobbie’s face. She was rewarded with a pile of pastries from Saffron Bakery and she inhaled a fresh baklava.
And then, a long hot bath.
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