Start Training Now (And Help Me Out) for the 2nd Annual 100 Miles of Nowhere

03.30.2009 | 11:36 pm

Last year, all by my sad little self, I rode the inaugural 100 Miles of Nowhere. As a recap, this is what the route looked like:


And here was what my GPS reported my turn-by-turn as:


In short, by making good on a bet that I could ride my rollers for 100 miles in one stretch, I raised more than $1000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The weird thing is, afterward a bunch of you said that if I made it an annual event, you’d want to do it, too. So, foolishly taking you at your word, I am happy to announce that soon I’ll be announcing (in other words, I haven’t finalized the date yet) the 2nd Annual 100 Miles of Nowhere.

But this time it’s going to be much more awesome.

How It’s Going to Work

Well, first off, there’s going to be official registration and everything, with racer schwag approximately 300% better than most racer schwag bags. More on that in a second.

And of course, most of the money for registration will go to Team Fatty’s LiveStrong Challenge.

When you register, you will specify your category (choose from one of my pre-made categories or create your own), your race location, and the distance you will ride your rollers or trainer: 25, 50, or 100 miles.

Of course, if you cheat and decide to ride outside, I will give you a stern warning, but will not treat it as cheating outright.

Then, On a certain day in the not-too-distant future, we will all — wherever we happen to be — ride nowhere at all, in a race that is both incredibly local and impossibly far-flung. Racers who normally drop everyone else will note that they are somehow going the same speed as recreational riders.

Above all, as you ride you will have conflicting senses of pointlessness (why am I riding my bike and not going anywhere?) and pointfulness (because I’m fighting cancer, that’s why).

And it will be awesome in a whole new way.

What You’re Going to Get

I’m currently planning on having a $75.00 entry fee. $25 of that will cover shipping costs and labor, and the other $50 goes to Fatty’s LiveStrong Challenge.

And what will you get, besides a sense of satisfaction that you participated in an incredibly strange race and also fought cancer? Well, you get a schwag box of awesomeness, that’s what. Here’s what’s in it so far:

  • A suitable-for-framing certificate, declaring you the winner in your category and location. Yes, that’s right. I am guaranteeing you a win, regardless of who else is in the race. What other race gives you that? Oh, and by “suitable for framing” I mean that I’ll use high-quality paper in my color laser printer. Oh, and I’ll sign it, too. With a blue Bic pen.
  • An event t-shirt, designed and produced by Twin Six . Twin Six designs all my jerseys and t-shirts, and they’ve never ever ever disappointed. This will be one shirt that definitely does not become a rag used to wipe the grease off your chain. Not for several years, anyway. Value: $22.00
  • A tube of DZ-Nuts. Yes, really. If you use chamois cream, it’s high time you try DZ-Nuts. If you have never tried chamois cream, I cannot think of a more perfect time to begin. As I have noted in my review, this is good stuff. Value: $22.00
  • A Banjo Brothers Seat Bag: These bags open wide and perfectly hold exactly what you need for a roadside tube change: tube, tire levers, mini tool, CO2 can and adapter. And a couple of rolled-up bills in case you need to buy a Slurpie. Every road bike should have one of these. Value: $10.99
  • A Garmin / Slipstream Camelbak Podium Bottle: I recently got one of these bottles for myself…and I liked it so much that I ordered a six-pack of them. They’re the only bottle I use now. Somehow, CamelBak has made the bike water bottle better. A lot better. And the Garmin / Slipstream graphics look great. And how cool is Team Garmin / Slipstream for helping raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation? Value: $10.00
  • CarboRocket Single-Serve packs: How weird is it that one of my very best friends invented what I consider to be the very best sports drink in existence? You’ll get three single-serve packs (perfect for making one bottle’s-worth), letting you try each of the flavors. And, I daresay this is a good opportunity for you to try them out. Value: $6.00
  • Clif Shot Bloks: The fact that I will, if left to my own devices, eat Shot Bloks recreationally, tells you everything you need to know about them. They taste like jam, and look terrifying when microwaved. Value: $2.00
  • ProBar : These things taste far too delicious to be organic, and yet they are. And they’re far too delicious, I might add, to be an energy bar. And yet they are. Value: $3.29

That is not a bad amount of stuff. In fact, if my calculations are correct (and they may not be, because I am far too lazy to double-check my work), the retail value of the 100 Miles of Nowhere schwag box is $76.28.

Yes, that’s right. You pay $75.00, get $76.28 worth of stuff, and you’re still donating $50 to Team Fatty’s LiveStrong Challenge.

How is that even possible? I do not know, but it is.

How I Need Your Help

Want to help out? Great. There are a couple things I need.

  • If you’ve got pull with a company and think they might want to be a sponsor: I would love to make you a sponsor. You can be a sponsor by either donating something very cool to go in the schwag bag, donating a very cool random-drawing prize (like a bike or a car or a lifetime supply of Diet Coke), or donating a good amount of cash to Team Fatty’s LiveStrong Challenge. E-mail me and we’ll talk about details.
  • If you’re thinking about participating: Just start talking to your friends and family about how insane it would be to ride your trainer for 100 miles (or 50, or 25). Once they agree, tell them you’re going to do it as part of this race, so you can do something completely ridiculous and noble at the same time, and you’d like them to donate to your LiveStrong Challenge page in support of your effort.

We’ll be starting registration soon. As soon as I pick a date. Which I believe will be around the end of April. Yeah, I know I should have done this when it was too cold to go do anything outside. But as it turns out I sometimes have other things I have to take care of in my life. So feel free to not give me any grief about waiting ’til now to get to this. Or I will bite your head clean off.

Don’t test me.

A few people have asked questions in the comments section, and a couple of questions have occurred to me that I expect some people might want to ask but are simply too shy.. I will try to answer them here:

  • Can I use my spin bike / stationary trainer? Sure. Why not?
  • I’m more of a runner? Can I do a running version? Of course. It seems that the runner’s equivalent of this would be to do a marathon on your treadmill. Your T-shirt will still say you did the 100 Miles of Nowhere, but you can edit it with a Sharpie.
  • What about riding a really small course outside? Yes, please do that. The smaller, the better. And please have a GPS with tracking on and send me the an image of your ride. I will post it.
  • My computer is mounted to my front wheel. What do I do? Mount a computer to your rear wheel, or, alternatively, just guess how fast you’re going. Guess low.
  • What if I’m not available on the day you pick? Do it on the day before. Or the day after. Or something like that. With all the time zones and date lines involved, it’s not like we’re all going to be riding at the same time anyway.

If you’ve got more questions, ask in the comments and if they seem general enough, I’ll answer them here.

PS: A bunch of you should be getting the bracelets you had Susan make for you (and I’ve gotten really nice emails from several of you saying how much you like them already; thanks!) over the next couple of days. She’s only got about 20 more to make, and she’s hoping to get them done between this week and next. Susan wanted me to let you know that each of the women’s bracelets has one squarish pink bead, which you should think of as her signature and a reminder of what this is all about. Susan also says that once she’s done with the remaining bracelets on order, she’s going to put jewelry making aside for a bit, so she can concentrate on finishing writing her novel.

PPS: Yes, that’s right. My cancer-fighting wife, having just raised north of $8K for the LAF by meticulously hand-crafting more than 80 bracelets, is now hard at work completing her first novel. How awesome is she? (Answer: very)


Lesson Learned, Again. For Now.

03.29.2009 | 10:20 pm

workstand.jpgLast November, I bought something bike-related, but have not yet mentioned it in this blog. Since I generally over-share all of my bike-related life to (and often beyond) the point of ickiness, you are no doubt curious what that thing is.

It’s a bike stand. Specifically, a Bontrager ProWrench Repair Stand. Which I suspect is a terrific bike stand, though I must now admit that I will probably never really know. Because, if things go well and I keep my head, I will use this bike stand primarily as a combination clothesline / vanity bike stand / scarecrow.

Let me explain.

Mechanicus Inepticus Maximus, Defined

I suffer from Mechanicus Inepticus Maximus (MIM), a disease that prevents me from successfully executing even the simplest bike repair and maintenance. When I work on my bike, my hands get clammy. I sweat profusely, I forget the meaning of “righty-tighty-lefty-loosey” (except in Australia).

I strip bolts. I drop and lose small parts. I scratch paint, dent metal, and splinter carbon.

I start talking to myself, and not in a very nice way. I will say things like, “You, sir, are a buffoon. An addle-brained, senile, and uneducated buffoon. You are fit to handle neither wrench nor screwdriver. Hex keys scatter in your presence.”

As I work, my failures cascade. After trying to replace brake pads, somehow my wheels have come out of true. After I flail around for a bit with the spoke wrench, somehow my left crank has become loose. When I tackle that, somehow, mystically my bike chain shortens by two links.

Let me use last weekend as an example. I have lately become very comfortable with disassembling bike chains, since I have completely disassembled four of them in the past month. So I thought to myself, “It’s high time I remove the chain from my Waltworks, give it a thorough degreasing, and put it back on.

Naturally, I went a turn too far with the chainbreaker tool and popped the pin out altogether.

So I thought, “Well, I have a new chain just sitting in the garage. I’ll put it on the bike. Except I made it one link too short. So I added a link back in…except I must have added two, because then the chain was flopping around like it was a foot too long.

So I adjusted the limit screws and the dropout. Evidently, though, not the same amount, because now the wheel wobbles when it spins. Not that it spins very much, of course, because of course it rubs against the brakes.

At this point I abandoned the project before it got worse. And believe me, it would have gotten worse.

MIM: Is it a disease or a curse? I cannot tell. Maybe it’s some of both. Like syphilis, but more embarrassing.

What Triggers MIM?

MIM can remain dormant for as long as the one affected doesn’t try anything stupid — like working on a bike. In my case, however, I’ll occasionally get the urge to improve my bike wrenching skills, thinking that I could save myself a lot of time if I knew how to take care of the basics.

So I’ll go and buy the tools for my project. Last week, for example, I got a torque wrench and some hex bits, thinking that I wanted to have everything I need on hand to adjust the settings on my new Superfly Singlespeed. Maybe swap out the handlebars, maybe practice changing the tire with those Chris King Funbolts installed.

You know. Try to become more self-sufficient.

I’ve already mentioned how well the bike chain project went. I have not mentioned, however, that I first stripped the adjustment bolt on my new bike’s seatpost. I’m sure this information surprises you. A lot.

I believe I will donate all my tools to a worthy bike shop before I once again get the impression that I have any business doing anything with a bike but riding it.

Secret Shame

I do my best to hide the fact that I suffer from MIM. It’s not easy, though. When neighbors — who have seen I have a ridiculous number of bikes in my garage — ask me to help them repair their kids’ bikes, I have to come up with a diffierent excuse each time. When my bike’s broken down at the side of the road and another cyclist stops and asks what the problem is, I have to make something up. When I ride by people suffering from a mechanical on the trail, I have to pretend I am deaf and have not seen them.

But I am not the only one who suffers from MIM. I know this for a fact, because a few months ago, I stopped by Dug’s house, and found him in the garage…muttering over a chain (a purple one, which indicates an entirely different disease).

I offered help. It shows you just how desperate he was that he accepted that help. From me.

Eventually, we did in fact get that chain on the bike, but we twisted one end of it 180 degrees before connecting, creating a bike-chain mobius strip.

And also Dug lost a finger.

The First Step

I am convinced that before a MIM sufferer can hope to be cured, he must first acknowledge his sickness, and then publicly vow to never harm a bicycle again. Toward that end, I hereby declare and swear myself to the following:

The MIM Sufferer’s Oath
I, (Your Name Here), have no ability with tools. I have never had such an ability and freely confess that I will never have such an ability. Nothing but harm and sadness will ever come of me trying to convince myself otherwise.

As a cyclist without mechanical skill, I now promise that I will no longer pretend to have the ability to do anything with my bike beyond inflating a tire and lubing the chain. I will not change brake pads. I will not true a wheel. I will not try to fix that creaky noise coming from either the bottom bracket or stem, I’m not sure which.

I will not even pretend to think about setting up disc brakes.

I promise to sell — or if necessary, give — all my tools to someone who can use them without causing irreparable harm. When my bike is broken, I shall confess as much and bring it straight to the bike shop before I make things worse. And I shall tip the mechanic generously, for he has a skill that I have not.

From this day forward, I will ride my bikes with renewed understanding as I embrace my limitations. Specifically, if my bike ever breaks even a little bit and I’m by myself without a good cel phone signal, I’ve got a long walk ahead of me. For while the tools in my seatbag may help me survive in the wilderness or perhaps whittle a flute, in my hands these tools are tools exclusively of destruction, and will do the bike no good whatsoever.

At all.

No matter how long I tinker, nor how many knuckles I bloody.

Hi, my name’s Fatty, and I have MIM.

How to Be Last

03.27.2009 | 10:35 am

Last Saturday was my 40th birthday ride, held—as is traditional—on Tibble Fork: Up Tibble, down South Fork to Deer Creek (Joy), up to the Ridge trail, Down Mud Springs back to Tibble, and then back down Tibble to the reservoir. Dug, Kenny, Brad, Sunderlage and Botched joined me for this ride. The weather was perfect, and the trail was in good condition.

Sadly (for them), Kenny and Dug were both injured. Kenny had broken his back on the mountain two days earlier (Botched and I puzzled over the right “broke back mountain” joke for the occasion, but neither of us ever really nailed it); Dug couldn’t lift his right arm higher than elbow level, due to a high-speed downhill endo earlier in the week.

And yet, I was the slowest guy of the group.

By a lot.

Fortunately, I kept my wits about me and therefore avoided the embarrassing mistakes usually made by the slowest guy in a riding group, and emerged at the end of the ride with my dignity intact—or at least kept my dignity as intact as a fat, balding, middle-aged guy wearing a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup jersey is likely to.

How did I do this? By remembering and observing the Three Rules of The Slow Rider.

Rule 1: Stay Back.
You would think that because you are the slow guy, you would automatically always be sorted to the back of the group.

You would think that, but you would be wrong.

Fast riders want to take pity on slow ones. Riding with the slow guy shows that they’re nice, for one thing. And it gives them a reason to rest for a minute. And, perhaps most importantly, it gives them a chance to look casual and comfortable—and maybe even just a little bit bored—while riding at the slow riders absolute redline.

As a slow rider, it is critical you deny them this opportunity. Decline all invitations to “go on ahead.” Remember, to consciously go ahead of someone who is faster than you is to accrue all of the following deleterious circumstances:

  • You have taken a position you have not earned.
  • You are now officially being baby-sat.
  • The guy behind you will have plenty of wind, and will want to use the extra wind for light-hearted banter. You, on the other hand, will have no such oxygen surplus.
  • Know that you will have someone right on your rear wheel, which means that if you have to put a foot down you make the other guy stop, too. Further, having someone right on your rear wheel isn’t exactly pleasant on its own merits, either.
  • Set yourself up to be the stumblebum in the story your good buddy will tell at the end of the ride about how easy this ride is when you don’t really push it, and how it’s sometimes nice to go out and ride easy, and that this is the first real recovery ride he’s had in ages.

So how do you decline the “after you” invitation? Simple. Use these words: “No, you go on. I’m riding sweep today.”

Do you see the beauty of that statement? By saying this, you are taking charge. You are accepting a mantle of responsibility—ensuring the safety of all other riders. And you are not admitting that you are slow just because you are fat and slow.

99.4% of the time, that’s all it takes. The other 0.6% of the time, you’ll be riding with some former (or—worse—current scoutmaster) who has some deep-seated, twisted need to take care of the group. This person will assert that he wants to ride sweep.

In this instance, it is within your rights—nay, it is your duty—to push the other rider into a ravine. Or, if that’s not your style, you can always trick them into going on ahead. You do this by stopping immediately after getting on your bike to pretend to twist a barrel adjuster on your rear derailleur. If they slow, just say, “go on. I’ll catch up.” Even though you won’t. Can’t.

Rule 2: Shut Up.
The most overwhelmingly powerful sensation you will have when you are the slowest rider in the group is shame.

The second most powerful will be a searing of the lungs.

The third most powerful—and the one I choose to talk about right now—is the urge to explain yourself whenever you catch up to the group, as they wait for you.

Picture this: you ride up to the group. Clearly, they’re just chatting, waiting for you to catch up so they can continue on. Judging from how well-rested they all look, you sense that they’ve been waiting there for a while.

What’s your inclination? Why, to explain yourself, of course. To tell them how hard it is to do this ride when you’re so out of shape, or to apologize for being so slow, or to thank them for waiting up.

Do. Not. Do. Any. Of. Those. Things.

Instead, roll up to the group, smile, put a foot down, and join the conversation already in progress. Convey a sense of well-being. Exude peace and pleasure that you’re on your bike. Your entire being should tell your co-riders that you’re happy to be on the trail.

Hey, it’s not a race, after all.

Rule 3: No Excuses.
This is the most important rule of all: do not explain why you are slow. Everyone already either knows, or doesn’t know you well enough to be interested. Yes, you’re busy at work. Yes, you’ve had an injury. Yes, you’re middle aged, and it’s not as easy to unload the weight as it once was.

No, nobody wants to hear it.

Unless you’ve got a really good self-deprecating joke. In which case, bring it on.

PS: This post taken from my Spaces archive. I’ll be back Monday with new stuff.


03.25.2009 | 9:31 pm

Paul, my mom’s husband, passed away today. He was at home and with the people he loved most.

He was a tough guy, he was a smart guy, and he was a good guy. Even though he’s been sick for quite some time, he often insisted that he was fine and could take care of himself for a few days so my mom could come help me out here.

And just a couple weeks ago he told me, with some urgency, that it was very important that I remember to keep getting out on my bike and staying balanced, so I’d be able to take care of my family. It’s good advice.

Paul was 82, and had successfully battled more recurrences of skin cancer than I think even he could count. Like I said, he was a tough guy.

Most importantly, Paul and my mom had a good, happy marriage.

Like a lot of people, I’m going to miss Paul. And like a lot of people, I admire him for what he did and who he was.

PS: Jodi’s got more to say over at her blog.

A Demand for an Apology from Lance Armstrong

03.24.2009 | 2:34 pm

Dear Mr. Armstrong,

Until recently, I was truly one of your biggest fans. I was the president of the Alpine, Utah chapter of the Lance Armstrong Fan Club. I have now resigned.

I have — and used to wear daily — a yellow jersey, which I signed myself in what my friends call a stunningly accurate replica of your own signature. I have even asked my coworkers and family to call me “Mellow Johnnie,” although they have not yet complied.

And so, as you can no doubt imagine, I was distressed to find yesterday that your collarbone has been broken. I even observed some of the events leading up to it.

Here’s what happened. I got to my spot to watch the race nice and early. Three days early, in fact. And after a while, I got a little bored. So I decided to have a little fun. Specifically, I started giving “Lance Armstrong Fan Club” musette bags full of candy to every little kid I could find, and told them to make sure to stand either at the side of or in the middle of the road and wave the musette bags wildly as you rode by.

Next, I encountered that dork who threatened you with the hypodermic pitchfork in the Tour of California. I told him that his pitchfork was very dangerous and quite possibly a hazard if it were to be jabbed into a cyclist’s spokes. Believe me, he paid strict attention to my warning, in particular the part where I explained how while it could do serious damage regardless of the wheel it was stuck into, the front wheel would be much, much worse.

I’m confident I set him straight.

Finally, in a burst of creativity, I sprayed your name onto the road with Pam cooking spray, knowing that I could then cover the entire area of that road with yellow watercolor paints and that the paint would not stick to the Pam. This left a very cool “GO LANCE” on the road, where the “GO LANCE” part was where I had sprayed the non-stick cooking spray.


Pretty awesome-looking, isn’t it? That Pam is terrific stuff.

Anyway, by the time I finished each of these projects, I still had a couple of hours before you came by, so I took a brief nap.

Imagine my surprise and alarm when I awoke to the sounds and sights of a massive bike pileup!

“How could this have happened?” I asked myself, shrugging off my sleepiness. But clearly, this was no time for questions. This was the time for men of action — like me, for example — to take charge!

I cast my eyes about, looking to see how I may be of most service.

Which is, naturally, when I saw you.

Now, I don’t mean to be telling tales out of school, but frankly you didn’t look all that hurt. In fact, you were scrabbling to your feet, and quite clearly had the use of both arms.

However, I did notice you fell back down a couple of times, probably because of those hard-soled biking shoes you wear — so I grabbed you under your arms and hauled you to your feet.

As I did so, I heard a distinct “popping” sound. You must have heard it too, because you whirled around to face me, your face a mask of anger.

“Hold still!” I yelled, all business. “I’ll attend to you as soon as I remove this broomstick from your front wheel and disentangle these nylon straps from your cranks and handlebars!”

I wheeled your now-freed bike to you — falling down a couple of times myself; what a slippery road! — and placed the bike in front of you. As you started to remount, I yelled, “Hold on a second, mister! I heard that popping sound a moment ago! Your spine is out of alignment!”

Reaching around your shoulders from behind you and grasping your neck in much the way I recall my chiropractor doing, I pulled and twisted, expecting the “pop” that tells me your back is straight and true.

Oddly, I heard a different sound — more of a crrracck than a pop. “How peculiar,” I said, and then prepared to try again.

Which is when, of course, you started screaming. As if you were in pain or something.

Reassuringly, I said, “Seriously, stop squirming. Hey, your other shoulder looks a bit tweaked. Let me take a look . . . hey! Where are you going? I’ve got my acupuncture kit with me.”

And then you — completely unreasonably — were demanding that people restrain me and not let me anywhere near you.

I confess to feeling disappointment in the way you treated me.

Later that day, I read that you had been injured while riding, and while I am certainly curious as to how and when it happened, I simply cannot muster up the same concern I would otherwise feel for you. After all, if you’re going to treat me — one of your biggest fans — so rudely, why should I bother with how you managed to get yourself injured?

I know you’re hurt, Lance, and so I am not asking for an apology in person. Simply reply with a phone call or email explaining your actions and we’ll let bygones be bygones.



The Fat Cyclist

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