A Last-Chance-to-Win Note from Fatty: Did you know that I’m going to be doing a drawing today to see who wins my (other) Superfly 100? I am! In fact, you have only a few hours left to enter the contest. I’m then going to do all the math and stuff and notifying the winner Monday AM (so be sure to check your email). I’d be doing it sooner, but I’m going to be off the grid, racing the Rockwell Relay (check the blog Friday and Saturday; I’ll post short updates when I have signal) with The Runner, Kenny, and Heather.
This is — as I now know, having ridden one a lot like it for a couple rides — an incredible bike. More important, though, is the fact that your donation will be going to a good cause: LiveStrong, and their quest to help those fighting against cancer.
So please, go donate now, in multiples of $5.00. Several times, my bike giveaway winners have been people who make final-day entries. It could happen again!
Fatty’s Suncrest Century
I’m going to tell a story about my experience with the 100 Miles of Nowhere this year. There will be a lot of pictures. A lot of text. A couple of videos. Links to other people’s accounts of the selfsame group.
Honestly, I don’t expect many of you to stay with me through what is, in the end, a story about riding up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down.
Although I kind of hope you will stay with me, because otherwise I will get quite lonely.
Still, as a hedge against the probability of you nodding off before you get through this story, I’m going to show you the part I really, really want you to see, right off the bat.
Specifically, the elevation profile for my 100 Miles of Nowhere:
According to my Garmin 500, that was about 12,500 feet of climbing. A non-trivial amount. However, when I enable Elevation Corrections — whereby elevation gain is measured using data from professionally-measured elevation surveys rather than GPS/barometer data — I apparently did 18,488 feet of climbing.
Which, honestly, sound a little bit suspicious. But who am I to argue with professional elevation surveyors? Nobody, that’s who.
So I’m going with it, in bold for emphasis: I did 18,488 of climbing last Saturday. Which means, technically, that I bumped my head against an airplane or two. Sorry about that, airplanes!
The Past is Not the Present (Just in Case You Were Wondering)
The first time I did the 100 Miles of Nowhere, it was just me. In a spare bedroom. On rollers.
That was it. That was thee whole thing.
It’s kinda mutated since then.
And I don’t just mean that it’s mutated because 650 people did it this time, raising tens of thousands of dollars for LiveStrong, and thousands of dollars for World Bicycle Relief.
It’s mutated in that now it’s more often held outside than in. Which is why (in addition to the fact that I am lazy and tend to put things off) it’s held in June now, instead of in February (though, come to think of it, I ought to do an old-school on-rollers 100 Miles of Nowhere this February, just so I don’t forget my roots).
And where it started as a very solitary thing, it’s now much more likely to be a party. And, let’s face it, the Suncrest Century version of the 100 Miles of Nowhere was definitely a rolling party.
For one thing, I spent the night before the race boiling 72 bratwurst (bratwursts? bratwursten?) in cheap bee, while my creative twin daughters decorated the banner we planned to hang outside at the park pavillion we had reserved for the day:
I also checked with Mark, who — Godfather barter-style — owed me a service, due to the fact that I had provided him with a set of mountain bike brakes at an earlier time.
This service was that his wife — Rachel, a gifted and experienced dessert chef — would bring pie for everyone to eat, post-ride.
It’s Fun to Have Fun With the Fun
Saturday morning, at 5:30, about 15 of us gathered at the park, ready to start the first lap.
The Runner and I had come up with an ingenious tracking methodology. Each person who’d be riding wrote their name on an orange strip of paper and stapled it to the banner. Then, each time they completed a lap, they would write their stats on a pre-printed strip I had made, form it to a ring, and add it to their 100 Miles of Nowhere Chain (patent pending).
Also, for those of us who like to quantify our experiences, there was the option of turning your legs into a set of checkboxes, so that after each lap you could fill in another box. Here I am at the start of the ride, with — alas — no boxes filled in at all:
The plan was to have a 5:30am start, and we got rolling by 5:45 or so. Which isn’t half bad, really. “The first climb to the summit is a social climb!” I called out, in part to prevent any attacks until my legs were warmed up sufficiently and I was ready to launch an attack myself.
The forecast had the day as warm, but the morning was still cold. At least until we hit the end of the (relatively) flat road from the park to the South Suncrest climb, at which point — almost as if by magic — I warmed right up.
More magically than that, however, was the fact that somehow the “first climb is social” declaration somehow stuck. We all rode up together, talking, having fun.
It was downright pleasant, that first 1200-foot ascent. In the back of my mind, though, I wondered what I expect just about everyone was wondering: “How am I going to feel about this climb six — or seven, or eight — hours from now?
We got to the top of the South side of Suncrest in decent time — I’m being vague here because I never really thought in terms of time the whole day; rather, I thought in terms of “summits left to go” — and dropped down the steeper North side.
And — more magic here — somehow there was no wind at all as we dropped down the North side of Suncrest. I’m pretty sure this is really the first time that has ever happened to me, and so — again, for the first time — I was able to bomb down the road, hitting my top speed for the day — 52.4mph — on the first descent.
And then, having reached the bottom, we all pulled a sharp U-turn and started climbing up again.
Validation of a Hunch
Now, I have always felt that the North side of Suncrest is a harder climb than the South side. Everyone thinks that, actually. But now, having done each side five times in a single day, my hunch is much, much stronger.
Also, it’s no longer a hunch. I’ve got the math to prove it. The four-mile South side of Suncrest averages out to a 5% grade. The 3.5-mile North side of Suncrest averages out to a 7% grade.
I mention this all as prelude to the disclosure that my friend Kenny was doing the 100 Miles of Nowhere with us on his single-speed modified track bike (i.e., modified to have front and rear brakes as well as a freewheel).
And 50×18 gearing.
“I’m sticking to the South side for the rest of the day,” said Kenny, as his right knee popped off with a “sproi-oi-oi-oi-oing” sound.
The Difference Between Argh-some and Awesome
By the time we got to the summit of the North side of Suncrest for the first time, Steve W had set up his Suncrest Summit Aid Station.
Here’s the thing: I don’t know Steve (or didn’t ’til last Saturday); he was just a guy who emailed me a month ago or so, asking if I’d like him and his kids to set up an aid station for everyone to use at the top of Suncrest.
Of course I said, “Sure!”
But I did not expect the level of awesomeness that Steve and his family would bring to this aid station, which in fact became the hub of the entire ride for all of us.
Steve didn’t just set up a card-table with a jug of water and some orange slices (like I would have).
He set up a portable canopy, and then stocked it to the gils: fruit, nuts, water, gatorade, Oreos, cold Coke. Here’s Steve and his kids, with their masterpiece:
Oh, and — as far as I was concerned, the standout item for the day — Otter Pops. Nothing tasted better than frozen liquid sugar on a hot day after climbing (yet again) 1200 feet. Here’s me, eating what was probably my sixth Otter Pop of the day:
In fact, Steve’s aid station was so popular that people who weren’t even doing the 100 Miles of Nowhere started poaching, with promises they’d donate at my LiveStrong Challenge page.
Hey Contender Guy and Hammer Girl! Have you donated yet?
Of course, it wasn’t just Steve and his Aid Station of Awesomicity that made the day great. The weather was perfect, too — sunny (finally!) but not unbearably hot. And the people were great — I loved having so many of my favorite people around, many of them kitted up in Fatty gear:
And one of the unexpected benefits of an out-and-back 100 Miles of Nowhere course is the fact that whether you’re going one speed or another, you’re going to run into each other pretty often, at which point there’s no reason not to turn around and ride together for a few minutes, giving us opportunities for photos like this:
Little by little, with surprisingly little agony, the chains of laps got longer:
And the checkboxes on our legs got filled in:
More folks — like these riders from Layton — joined in the ride and helped us go nowhere some more:
And in general, a day that I expected to be really tedious and painful turned out to be an eight-hour-long rolling party.
Kenny celebrated his final lap by wearing his “Daisy Duke” shorts:
And then, 8:48 after I started (7:20 of which was rolling time), I got to fill in the final checkbox (my legs now marred by a rookie mark):
And then it was time for brats. And pie. And for the twins to take turns burying each other.
And for Kenny and Heather to have a nice, long, well-deserved nap.
A couple of the guys did writeup’s videos. Here’s Dug’s:
And here’s Paul’s:
And somehow, a ridiculous ride — where I repeatedly do a course I’ve done hundreds of times before and usually do when I need a hard workout and don’t have a lot of time, but am not really looking for a great time — became the funnest group ride I’ve ever done.
I’m a little weirded out to say this, but I’m actually looking forward to next year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere.
I kind of like the idea of 100 Miles of Nowhere: Alpine Loop edition.
Start thinking about joining us.