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!
That was almost the title of this post. But let’s start at the beginning.
Dateline, Agoura Hills, CA, Saturday, June 4th, 2011.
I awoke ready. Feeling positive, excited to get on the bike and ride my first 100 Mile of Nowhere.
I knew I’d need energy, so my favorite aunt made me breakfast:
Love my Aunt Jemima.
I made a little “before” video — showing how fresh and ready I was… and how unaware of the horrors to come. But as I’m a Luddite and am clueless as to how to upload anything other than youtube to this site, you are left to use your imaginations. Picture this…
A cheery, doughy white guy, ready to ride his new Project One bike for 100 miles in the name of nothing. And Livestrong. (the photo of Sylvia Plath behind me turned out to be ominous foreshadowing)
The route was simple. Head east on a slight 1% downhill, turn right and bomb a .3 mile descent, then come to a complete stop to avoid crashing in the gravel, turn right, roll west on a straight, flat road, then turn right, and climb back up – 3/10th of a mile with a 6% average, peaking at 10% – the climb being a slight left turn, then finishing with a sweeping right-hander before returning to the start/finish line.
Easy peesy, right? RidewithGPS claimed a 104 feet total ascent with this route. Wow… over 10,000 feet of climbing? I’ve never gone more than 4,500 in one ride. Ever. But it’s a little circle… and I can recover on the bombing descent, right? The one where I slam the brakes at the bottom so as not to crash in the gravel… right?
I clipped into the Goat and did one lap. In 5:44. I was pacing myself, people. Oh, Hal 9000 pointed out some very good news. The map was wrong! There was only 83 feet of ascent on my little loop. I’d only have to climb 8,300 feet today! WooHoo!!! Piece of cake.
Did I mention I hate cake?
MILE 21 – Suicide By Cyclist
Things were going along quite smoothly the first 20 miles. I had my black-n-red Special U2 edition iPod and was listening to my “Cycling” playlist. Three and a half hours of the best songs to pedal to.
My lap times were down below five minutes now, I was feeling good without pushing myself. On lap 20 (mile 21) as I crested the summit of the climb, doing my best Contador — yes, at this moment I was actually trying to imitate Contador’s dancing on the pedals style of climbing. What my imitation failed to include was Contador’s V02 Max, and his >6.2watt/kg abilities. But it was actually working. I was cruising up that last little 10% peak at breakneck speed.
Until the squirrel.
Now, let me pause here to say I have the greatest empathy for those going through rough times. We all have our time on the edge as Billy so eloquently told Jules in St. Elmo’s Fire. So please understand that I mean no disrespect nor do I harbor any ill-will toward the mile-21 squirrel, and in fact, I wish him/her the best.
As I stomped left, then right down on my Dura-Ace pedals, an obviously distraught squirrel decided enough was enough and chose to end it all — by running out in front of me, hoping that I squish him/her and all his/her horrible memories, awful life choices, terrible relationships, and whatever else suicidal squirrels think about, and send him/her to that little acorn tree in the sky.
Only I refused to be Dr. Kevorkian to his/her Thomas Youk. No! I will not play God on this day!
I threw the Goat’s handlebars hard left – the opposite direction of Rocky’s run – and thought everything was fine… until the squirrel reversed direction, refusing to give up his/her quest for death, essentially begging me to end the suffering. But nay, I say, nay!
LIVE LITTLE SQUIRREL LIVE! THINGS WILL GET BETTER! IT ALWAYS GETS BETTER!
It did not get better. For either of us.
I crunched the Ultegra brakes and the Goat halted immediately, missing the squirrel by mere centimeters. I watched him/her dash back to the underbrush… just as I tipped over.
I managed to unclip one shoe in time to keep from falling completely horizontal, but the damage was done, my momentum was crushed, my knee was tweaked, and Mr./Mrs. Squirrel was off to find some pills of a razor blade. Just before he/she disappeared, I swore I heard a little squirrel voice say, “You break my heart. Then again, you break everyone’s heart.”
I righted the Goat, clipped back in, and proceeded to ride the next couple of laps very tentatively until the tweaking in my knee subsided. I made a mental note to leave the suicide hotline number on a tiny piece of nut-colored paper near the underbrush later.
Mile 50 – Ignorance is Bliss
Halfway done. I was feeling good. With the exception of my nads – which were getting a bit raw. I looked at the DZ Nuts sample that came in my SWAG bag.
By the way, people. It is not SCHWAG or SHWAG. It is SWAG. S. W. A. G. It is an acronym for Stuff We All Get. Write it down.
Anyway, I went for the tried and true Chamois Butter, and that cool, soft, squishy-in-my-no-no-place feeling just added to my 50-mile bliss.
Looking back I figure the 50-mile mark was my first mistake. Perhaps the Contador impression in the first 20 miles could be seen as an error, but really it was at the 50 when it all started to go wrong. I stopped at the halfway point, refilled my water bottles, filling one with GU Brew. I ate a yummy Fruition bar. I thought about having an actual lunch. Like some pasta or at least a PB&J sandwich. But I was so feeling good. Much better than I thought I’d be feeling.
Let’s keep going!
I threw a couple more Gu’s into my Fat Cyclist jersey pocket and continued on.
MILES 50 -70 – Bruce, Tom, Nina and Heather
I was still bombing the descents, using that 25 seconds to recover from the climbs, which were becoming increasingly tougher. But let me say this about cycling and music — there is NO BETTER song to have in your ears when you are sweating a tough climb than the live version of The Ghost of Tom Joad by Bruce Springsteen and Tommy Morello from the Magic Tour night at MSG. Yes, I am prepared to debate any of you on this.
Back to the 100MON.
I continued to click off the miles, my knee was fine, and I was feeling… good. I certainly knew I was riding farther (further) than I had since last November, but I still had not hit any kind of wall. I stopped again at mile 70, refilled the bottles, re-Gu’d my pockets, reset my Cycling Playlist to the beginning (I had yet to get through the entire playlist), thought again about resting for a while and eating something of substance, then decided I had only about 2 hours left, so…
Let’s keep going!
MILE 90 -The Beginning of The End
The climb up lap 87 (mile 90) was rough. For many reasons. The first was I am a big, squishy, fat slug of a man. The second being I do not think I was eating/drinking properly during my 100MON.
The third – and single most critical reason was an egregious error I made. Not on the day, but rather 12 months ago when I compiled my “Cycling” playlist. Over 40 songs. Three and half hours of tunes. Most of them perfect riding songs. I even thought ahead enough to make the last few tunes “recovery” sort of songs – you know, for that long ride home. Songs like Phil Collins’ Take Me Home. And Heather Small’s Proud (which is also a great beginning of the ride tune).
I pedaled through those tunes, and just as I hit the climb for the 87th time that day, the voice of Gordon Lightfoot began playing in my ear.
The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.
Now, I don’t know if any of you have ever ridden your bike while listening to what may be the single greatest song about death ever written, and I truly doubt any of you reading this have had a lobotomy recently – which would be the only explanation for riding your bike uphill while listening to The Wreck of The Edmund Fitzgerald.
Uphill after 90+ miles and over 7,400 feet of climbing.
About halfway up the climb the cook said, “Fellas, it’s too rough to feed ya.”
And too rough to climb.
I struggled to the top and then coasted, literally, all the way to the descent. Then coasted down, coasted through the gravel, and coasted as far as I could until I finally had to pedal to keep from stopping.
Then hit the climb again. Jesus, already???
That’s when the main hatchway caved in.
Fellas, it’s been nice to know ya.
I was done.
Oh, and then, a half-mile later, my iPod died. It may have been a suicide.
I wanted to stop. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to never hear Gordon Lightfoot ever, ever again.
Just call me Bonkopotamus.
But then I thought about what the 100Miles of Nowhere is really about. It’s about Livestrong, and 28 million people battling cancer, and fighting like Susan. And Joan – my mother-in-law who’s in the last stages of stomach cancer, but refuses to give up.
F*#k Gordon Lightfoot.
I continued on. My lap times were seven minutes now. But I kept riding. Mile 92. 93.
My legs burned. My stomach was roiling. My brain was going. I barely had the strength to reach for my water bottles.
I kept riding. One more lap. One more lap.
I hit the climb at about 4mph. I was weaving. I was nauseos. I was in pain, and constantly reminding myself Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever.
I reminded myself that my pain was nothing like the pain cancer patients are going through.
I stood up, determined to crest the hill for the 98th time.
And that’s when my body gave out.
I fell over and began vomiting.
I dragged the Goat and my fat, useless slug of a body to the side of the road and threw up again.
I wanted to cry. I hated myself. Hated my body. Hated all those years of eating chips and fries and not exercising.
I tried to get up and could not. I looked at Hal 9000.
94.8 miles. 7,916 feet of ascent.
I sat there in the bushes for ten minutes. Fifteen. Twenty. Darkness was falling. The temperature was dropping. I had chills. My legs were shaking.
I willed myself to get up. I got back on the Goat. And somehow, and I have no idea how, I made it up the last 30 meters to the top of the climb.
Once I crested I could not pedal anymore. Every time I tried my body refused. My mind was not ready to quit. But my body was done.
I got back to the start/finish line. 95.1 miles.
I was shaking. I was freezing. I was dry-heaving.
I was done.
I walked the Goat back to my place, stripped down and sat in the shower for half an hour. I hated myself. I was weak. I was stupid. Why didn’t I eat better? Why didn’t I managed my first 50 miles better? Why didn’t I hit that squirrel full force?
I failed. And failing at 95 miles SUCKS. I would have rather failed at 75 miles. Or 25 miles.
I crawled into bed in full sweats, under a huge down comforter and could not get warm. Could not stop shaking.
I feel asleep for a few hours, woke up in the middle of the night and ate an entire box of macaroni and cheese.
I woke up at 7am the next morning and without hesitation got back on the Goat and rode 10 laps.
107.3 miles. 8,959 feet of climbing.
Over two days.
I completed the 100 Miles of Nowhere, but I also failed at the 100 Miles of Nowhere.
In the glass half-filled category, I raised
almost $300 over $500 for Livestrong. And I am going to add another $50 of my own money as penance for my failure.
And next year, I will be back. In better shape, and without Gordon Lightfoot.
And I will ride it all in one day.
Ride your bike.
Never give up.
Fair winds and following seas, Willy.
– Paul Guyot