100MoN Race Report # (unlucky) 13: Suicidal Squirrels From Hell Division

06.9.2011 | 6:59 am

201106090832.jpg 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!


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 bonked.



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.

And 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.

Epic. Fail.

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.

Eat better.

Ride your bike.

Never give up.

Fair winds and following seas, Willy.

– Paul Guyot


  1. Comment by Clarence | 06.9.2011 | 7:18 am

    Everyone knows SWAG is Stuff We Are Given. We ALL don’t get it, just the best of us…

  2. Comment by Jenn | 06.9.2011 | 7:35 am

    “You’re very talented, Bil…er…Paul.”

  3. Comment by Jase | 06.9.2011 | 7:53 am

    I didn’t do the 100MON, but I did do my own century on Sunday, and I too, very nearly gave up.

    Kudos to you on finishing the following day!

  4. Comment by dug | 06.9.2011 | 8:07 am

    i think i see your problem. send me your ipod, and i’ll fix it.

    also, you have a favorite aunt? do the other aunts know?

  5. Comment by Angie | 06.9.2011 | 8:11 am

    Thank you for posting your story. Not everyone has a shining victory, but you know what? That’s life. It’s you ability to bounce back from disappointments that define you as a person.

    Your determination will see you through when you try it again. And I have a feeling you just might do 100 miles sooner than we think…. just to prove to yourself that you can do it!

    Don’t wait a year for the next one. This victory will get this feeling out of your head and you can move on. Just take this last attempt as a learning experience and move on to the next one. You’ll do great!

  6. Comment by Maggi | 06.9.2011 | 8:12 am

    Holy cow, Paul. What an experience! Take care of yourself, man. Congrats on finishing it out the following day. Absolutely NOT a fail.

  7. Comment by Superstantial | 06.9.2011 | 8:23 am

    Great post. You at least win the Race Reports.

  8. Comment by pat | 06.9.2011 | 8:26 am

    Biggest failure was not sweeping the gravel covered corner you were planning to take 100 times in a row!

  9. Comment by The Flyin' Ute | 06.9.2011 | 8:31 am

    Good job finishing bro.

  10. Comment by Dave | 06.9.2011 | 8:37 am

    Very appropriate that you’re story is #13. Hey, Fatty never said this isn’t a stage event. Great story!!!

  11. Comment by GenghisKhan | 06.9.2011 | 8:47 am

    The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley, but sometimes when we fall, we get up and the story is that much better! Good job!

  12. Comment by KM | 06.9.2011 | 9:00 am

    Good race report. Fatty should let you fill in from time to time, IMHO. I concur it irritates the beejeezus out of me when people spell SWAG, SCHWAG or SHWAG. Now I have to sweat it that I made my donation in time for the drawing, please…oh please?????

  13. Comment by Edie | 06.9.2011 | 9:03 am

    “Pedal ’til you puke,” is a secret training system that is rarely found in writing.
    Kudos to you for sharing your success story!

  14. Comment by MattC | 06.9.2011 | 9:07 am

    Excellent report Paul! And hey, you can’t win if you don’t risk failure. It’s what you do after the failure that counts.

    And hey, not to diss you after such an awesome race (and even after sacrificing your knee to save the squirrel and all), but I DON’T see your name on the Team Davis page…what’s up with that?? Or are you registered under an alias?

    And hey…while I’m flinging stuff your way, what’s up w/ Leverage?? Have there been new episodes playing? My DVR hasn’t recorded a new one in a while now…(but we recently moved from DTV to Dish, and I’m not liking their DVR whatsoever).

    And finally, Fatty, WHEN I win the bike, I’ll be out of town until the 20th, doubt I’ll have many chances for email..so if you would please, just hold that certificate for me till I get back…thanks (there’ll surely be more cookies in it for you btw). Good luck on your relay race!

  15. Comment by Dan | 06.9.2011 | 9:11 am

    Excellent post and I must say it was by no means a fail. The goal was to raise the money and awareness which you did. Great job!

  16. Comment by Mark J. | 06.9.2011 | 9:13 am

    Great story Paul. You are a stronger man than I.

  17. Comment by lynn e | 06.9.2011 | 9:13 am

    It must be done. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvV9GBuAr-E

  18. Comment by Chris M | 06.9.2011 | 9:32 am

    Great ride report. Overall a WIN in my book!

  19. Comment by Sara | 06.9.2011 | 9:39 am

    I’d say the only fail here is the squirrel’s. Nice work on the ride!

  20. Comment by Kwvin | 06.9.2011 | 9:48 am

    My vote for full-time Fatty fill-in as guest blogger. Great report, great ride, great achievement!

  21. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 06.9.2011 | 10:00 am

    There is no EPIC FAIL in 100 MoN Events, only new division winners.

    I think I saw your squirrel this am in Marin. He was running, more like a slow saunter, down the MIDDLE of my road, in no particular hurry to actually cross. He was carrying a note.

    As for an explanation for the foreshortened day 1 ride….blame the bike. You named a Project One Trek the GOAT???? Not Pegasus? Instead of flying you up those last hills to victory, it decided to ‘head butt’ you for your hubris.

    Good story, great playlist (including Edmund Fitzgerald), and congratulations for winning the ‘Determined to Finish, no matter what, Division’.

    Come to Davis, they have lots of squirrels up there.(it’s walnut country).

  22. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 06.9.2011 | 10:32 am

    No failure here.

    BTW. I had a shot at your squirrel last weekend. He ran in front of me as I was descending on a steep hill at a high rate of speed. I was pretty sure I would wreck badly if I hit him and somehow managed to avoid him.

  23. Comment by Christina | 06.9.2011 | 10:39 am

    I am so proud of you! Awesome race report.

  24. Comment by GJ Jackie | 06.9.2011 | 10:40 am

    Like Phil says, “”He’s wearing the mask of pain. His legs have turned to rubber and his effort reduced to mere survival.”

    Way to hang in there till the end, Paul.

  25. Comment by Liz | 06.9.2011 | 10:58 am

    Excellent report, Paul, and you did NOT fail. Great 100 MoN, even if you had to improvise.

    Although eating better is always good advice. Maybe next time you could have your favorite cousin Fatty whip up an egg white breakfast?

  26. Comment by Judy | 06.9.2011 | 11:08 am

    On one ride, we actually had a squirrel t-bone a tire in mid turn. It did not end well.

    I guess it could have been worse, he could have also gone through the spokes, but he speed he was running accross the path, and the speed we were going, he went to the Squirrel Tree in the Sky immediately :(

  27. Comment by Paul Guyot | 06.9.2011 | 1:45 pm

    Thanks, everyone for the nice words.

    MattC (and others) – I was originally going to ride Davis, but due to my day job (Leverage) I won’t be able to be there.

    I am riding the Austin Challenge Ride for the Roses in October.

    And LEVERAGE season four debuts June 26th!!!

  28. Comment by Rob M | 06.9.2011 | 2:12 pm

    A great account of a great ride.

    If you had bothered to read the fine print in the official rules of the 100MON, you would know that you got five bonus miles for missing the squirrel.

    So, you completed the 100 in one day and won your category. Congratulations.


  29. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.9.2011 | 2:18 pm

    I wanted to stop. I wanted to lie down. I wanted to never hear Gordon Lightfoot ever, ever again.

    I generally feel that way, Paul.

    Fun report, though.

  30. Comment by Lisa C. | 06.9.2011 | 2:19 pm

    “Bonkopotamus!” I cackled (and I’m at work, so I got some strange looks).

    Dude, you got back out there the next morning and finished. That says it all.

    And your squirrel’s cousin picked me last year and succeeded. No fun.

    (oh, and Leverage rocks — can’t wait!)

  31. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.9.2011 | 2:20 pm

    F*#k Gordon Lightfoot.

    No, No, wait! That’s how I usually feel!

  32. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.9.2011 | 2:23 pm

    Actually, Paul, what you went through and did – kept going the next day – when you could – was an even better picture of what a cancer survivor goes through than many of our more triumphant versions.

    Great job!

  33. Comment by Haven-KT | 06.9.2011 | 4:10 pm

    Great job, Paul. You got out there and did it. You beat the century by 7 miles and change. And you wrote a great story for us.

  34. Comment by Eric | 06.9.2011 | 4:19 pm

    Not, not, NOT fail. That was pure win my friend. The thought of that last climb gives me shivers. That last climb, when you could have stopped and walked but got back on and rode. That is what win and courage is made of.

  35. Comment by Matthew | 06.9.2011 | 5:06 pm

    A very well told story, I enjoyed that. Btw I think “Stuff We All Get” is almost certainly a backronym since the word “swag” has been around for a very long time (meaning illicitly acquired goods) and its current usage is derived from that definition.

  36. Comment by Days | 06.9.2011 | 7:28 pm

    See? I knew there was a earworm worse than Birdhouse in Your Soul, or I am the Walrus. It’s frickin-wreck-of-the-Edmund-Fitzgerald. No way can it be a cycling song.

    In fact I’ll bet that squirrel was listening to it before he/she made their final desparate bid. I sure hope the little tacker finds some support gets their life back together.

    ps. (great post too).

  37. Comment by Days | 06.9.2011 | 7:29 pm

    bugger. The link to birdhouse in your soul didn’t work. *shrug*

  38. Comment by KrisD | 06.9.2011 | 10:44 pm

    Great story… sorry about the spewing bit.

    I definitely recommend Canadian Railroad Trilogy if you’re listing to Lightfoot and riding. Way more uplifting.

  39. Comment by Miles Arcjer | 06.9.2011 | 11:26 pm

    Suicide Squirrel was the name of my fantasy football team last year. They try to take me with them every time I’m bombing down Mt Diablo.

  40. Comment by gogogo | 06.9.2011 | 11:47 pm

    awesome ride! and definitely not a fail.
    i think i met your squirrel’s cousin on my first ride on my new road bike.
    luckily i managed to stay upright…

  41. Comment by Maggie | 06.10.2011 | 5:23 am

    Fail? NO WAY! Courage & determination – just like all those taking on cancer every day.

    Great attitude to a challenge – long may you continue to ride & help raise awareness of cancer & its effect on anyone living with this insiduous disease.

    Don’t beat yourself up Paul, you done brilliant! Great post!

  42. Comment by Kel | 06.10.2011 | 8:34 am

    The squirrel wasn’t suicidal. He was murderous. Another member of the death squad.

  43. Comment by janey | 06.10.2011 | 8:59 am

    Hey Paul,
    You’re just down the 101 a few miles from me!! I ride at Cheesborough (Cheseboro-whatever its called) every few months (the mule, not a bike). Next time you ride through Santa Rosa Valley, let me know and I’ll set up a Fellow Fatty Fan First Aid Station (FFFFAS) for you and whoever you’re riding with.
    Sorry to hear you didn’t clobber the squirrel. One less squirrel in the world is one more victory for my ever being undermined by squirrels hillside.
    Great story!! All the elements of suspense, character development aided by the detailed descriptions of setting.

  44. Comment by Debi | 06.10.2011 | 9:03 am

    Loved reading about your ride. Definitely not a loser so be kind to yourself. I suspect people dealing with cancer also have to refuel at times to fight this ugly disease called cancer.

    Fueling for the ride is critical and I’m glad you stopped when you did or you could have been a different type of statistic.

    Remember “[It] Ain’t about how fast I [you] get there, Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
    It’s the climb [ride]. THE ONLY SONG I LIKE BY MILEY CYRUS. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG2zyeVRcbs

    Congratulations on your awesome post and ride. You road +100 miles to contribute to a wonderful cause.

  45. Comment by roan | 06.10.2011 | 8:12 pm

    Paul, ya know I can’t even think of another G. Lightfoot song but that one stuck is my wheelhouse forever. It does have that sinking feeling and would be on my ride list.
    It could have been worse though, take Anne Murray’s Snowbird.
    “But now I feel such emptiness within
    For the thing I want most in life
    Is the thing that I can’t win
    Spread your tiny wings and fly away”

    Paul, You didn’t fly away, you did what was necessary, then you got on the bike the next day and…YOU WON !

  46. Comment by Andrew | 06.13.2011 | 2:40 pm

    Good for you for finishing! Congrats on a very painful century!

  47. Comment by Bacmapei | 06.14.2011 | 6:23 pm

    My favorite of the 2011 reports. It was funny and inspiring. Extra awesome that you finished.

  48. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » What I’ve Learned From Riding My Bike | 09.7.2011 | 2:41 pm

    [...] So I roll out ready to tackle 62 miles of newfound roads and climb at least 3,000 feet. Yes, people, 3,000. I am NOT Fatty, who needs at least 9500 feet of climbing to break a sweat. Did everyone forget my 100 Miles of Nowhere debacle? [...]


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