Mile 477

06.11.2011 | 10:18 am

Mile 477

Originally uploaded by Fat Cyclist.

Haven’t had signal for more than 24 hours, and now we’re on the 2nd to last leg of the race.

The Hammer (aka The Runner) is absolutely crushing it, almost as if she were not suffering from severe sleep deprivation, exhaustion, and some pretty intense heat.

I have a feeling we’re gonna be pretty happy with our race results.


Rockwell Relay: Our Race Objectives

06.10.2011 | 7:38 am

Rockwell Relay: Our Race Objectives

Originally uploaded by Fat Cyclist.

Greetings from the starting line of the Rockwell Relay! Our objectives for the day are, in the following order:

1. Beat the team The Runner’s son is on.
2. Beat all other teams in our category (middle aged coed division).
3. Beat all other teams in EVERY coed team.
4. Not hate each other by the end of the race.

The race starts in 1/2 hour. Kenny goes first, then me, then The Runner, then Heather.

Wish us luck! Or something!

100MoN Race Report #14: Fatty’s Suncrest Century

06.9.2011 | 10:12 am

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:

Steve and the kids are on the right, just in case you weren’t clear on that.

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:

Apart from this photo, of course, we rode single file THE ENTIRE DAY.

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:

The big guy on the left actually picked me up and threw me 28 feet in the air, just for laughs.

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.

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

100MoN Race Report #12: 1st Century + 13K Climbing + Rain Division

06.8.2011 | 7:03 pm

I wanted to do 100MoN last year but didn’t. This year I decided to do it after finding out about 3 people I know being diagnosed with Cancer. One of which is a 10 year old young lady who is so brave and strong. I’d like to publicly thank them for the inspiration to finish my first century ride.

Fatty, after learning of your route I thought to myself, “Self, you can find a route that’s just as stupid as that one!” And I did! Here it is:


Yes, that’s a 10 mile loop with 1322 feet of climbing. Yes, that’s over 13,000 feet of climbing in one day when I’ve never done a century. But at least I trained well by doing no more than my regular 10 miles each way commute a few times per week for the last 3 months (with the exception of one 31 mile ride that included “the loop” to test it out). However, I said to myself, “Self, Cancer fighters don’t get to ‘train’ to fight Cancer. They find out they have it and they fight it.”  

The morning of June 4th came. June 4th in Northern California is typically sunny and in the mid-eighties. So what did we get? Rain. A lot of rain. Rain all day. But again I thought about Cancer fighters. They don’t get to choose the circumstances surrounding their fight. Who am I to complain about rain?

So the day started and on my first break after 4 laps, my family came to cheer me on:


After that, how could I not complete my first century? I couldn’t. It wasn’t fast, but about 6-7 hours later I got this shot:


It was 10 total hours (8:45 on the bike) and 105 miles of Awesome!

Thanks to Kayden, Lance, and Blair for joining me, the family for supporting me, and Fatty for putting together such a ridiculous event.

But most of all, thanks to all of you who fight Cancer. You inspire us with your courage.

– Charles D

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