100 MoN Race Report #11: Pittsburgh First Century that Almost Ended a Relationship Division

06.8.2011 | 12:29 pm

Prior to today’s ride my longest training ride was just under 40 miles, so I went into the day with a lot of apprehension. I knew once I got on my bike that I wasn’t going to stop until I reached 100 miles, I just wasn’t sure if I would be stopping the same day I started or what kind of shape I would be in. I am fairly new to biking and I didn’t have a tire gauge, so while doing that 40 mile ride I was on tires that were basically flat and 3 pinch flats later I stopped at the local LBS and they informed me of my error. So while my longest ride wasn’t even half of my goal for the day I had a feeling that I would finish. To give me the best chance of success I carbo loaded, boy did I carbo load and I loved every minute of it. I gained 4 pounds in the two days before the ride.

For the ride I invited a few people to ride with me and posted on the bike-pgh.org message board that anyone is welcome even if they didn’t want to do the whole ride they could come out for a few laps so when the ride started it was my intern, his girlfriend, and I setting out to do 8, 10 mile laps of Pittsburgh’s South Side trail with a 20 or so mile detour the would cross the Hot Metal Bridge (which was recently named one of the World’s Most Spectacular Pedestrian Bridges here).

The view from the Hot Metal Bridge

Through Point State Park and up and down the Ohio River passing PNC Park, Heinz Field, and a Casino, which are all less than 1 mile apart.

Once I got started on the bike with my tires fully inflated I knew I would make the 100 miles it’s amazing the difference in effort it requires to move a bike with fully inflated tires compared to essentially flat tires. While I was flying along on my road bike with a full assortment of gears things weren’t going as easily for The Intern and The Intern’s Girlfriend on their mountain bikes. While the intern was able to keep up with me with a little more effort after about 2 miles I couldn’t help it and we dropped her. After a little while we saw her again while she was sitting on a park bench stewing in anger. At this point she asked for the keys to the car and was going to go shopping. The Intern learned a valuable lesson always wait for your girlfriend don’t listen to your machismo friend trying to show off for no one in particular. After this The Intern and I did another lap and next thing I know the Intern’s Girlfriend is back riding with us. Apparently the issue was she wasn’t familiar with gearing and she was in the small front and rear cogs so she was pedaling as quick as she could but still couldn’t keep up. We did another lap with The Intern in front pulling, The Intern’s Girlfriend next, and me behind her this time to make sure we don’t drop her again. She even took a couple of turns pulling and when she was out front the pace picked up. After that lap we had a change of plans as we saw a charity walk for Arthritis starting and moved our detour up two laps to not get caught up in the walk.

There are plenty of interesting sights along the Ohio River lots of boat docks, a correctional facility that looks like some old castle, and strangely a fire truck pumping water from the river through the truck and back into the river.

Boat Docks on the Ohio River

Fire Truck Putting Out River Fire without Flames?

Correctional Facility

On the way back there was a charity walk for autism that we had to weave through. At one point I was pretty sure I was going to end up in the river as there were 100’s of people in a very small area.

Most people were friendly and moved out of the way when you would announce “on your left,” but there were a few people who just didn’t want to move out of the way and they were the ones I envisioned turning and pushing me into the river…which wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing as it was starting to get pretty warm out.

On the way back once we got back to a point where The Intern and The Intern’s Girlfriend knew the route back, so I decided to open up the throttle an meet them at the car for our half way lunch. I got back to the car and ate my lunch, refilled my Camleback with water and water bottle with Gatorade, ate another banana, and used the porta potty and they still weren’t there.

So I turned back and went looking for them.

As soon as I did there they were slowly coming down the trail. The intern had bonked and was taking it pretty slowly after I dropped them and stopped at REI to get some serious energy. When I saw him he said he felt a lot better and after lunch he finally started looking better so we took off again, sans the girlfriend; she needed a break. We’re now on the backside of the ride with only 47 miles to go.

Early in this lap someone riding by us on a bike looks at me, and screams, “Hey are you doing the century? Hold on I’ll swing around.”

This was John. He read my post on the bike-pgh.org message board and he swung around and we pick up the speed. John came out at a great time because our pace was slowing down significantly. With John on board our pace picked up and we were riding along at a pretty good clip.

We outpaced The Intern by quite a bit but anytime we came to an intersection we would loop back around and ride back to the intersection with him. We did one more lap to put us around 63 miles then my wife met us with some more food and we had a turkey sandwich, took a picture, and took off.

Mile 63 or so Photo. Not sure what’s up with my helmet. Left to right John, The Intern (Anthony), and Me (Dave)

John led us on a new detour we followed the trail down through Station Square back up to East Carson street past the Duquesne Incline across the Fort Duquesne Bridge and we came out at Point State Park again and went up and down the Ohio River after the Ohio river we rode through town back to the “Jail Trail.”

Before we got on the Jail Trail John looked at me and said, “I don’t know about you but I think a century should have some cobbles.” With that we rode through the Market District.

I’ve never ridden on cobbles before and that gave me a new appreciation for how the big boys handle those at such a high speed.

I ride through town everyday on my commute to work and it was pretty nice to ride through town without all of the traffic. You can really take in the different styles of the buildings and architecture downtown. Once we get back to the trail The Intern’s Girlfriend joins us again and we take another lap and John heads home and I thank him for showing up and especially for setting the pace.

With that I pull my phone that I was using for a GPS out of my pocket and I think I have two and a half laps left so I set off on finishing those two plus laps, but in the back of my mind I realize that the math isn’t adding up so I finish the two laps and look at my GPS and it shows that I still have 2 laps left.

So I look at it and realize that it lost me a few times during the day as there are long straight lines on the map to some places where obviously isn’t possible because I didn’t remember riding through the river at all today.

I was tired but I don’t think I was that tired. So I go through the math in my head and realize that I actually did 110 miles. So with that I very anti climatically but incredibly satisfyingly finish my first century by actually completing 110 miles.

I appreciate the help that everyone gave me during my ride. First my wife for allowing me to spend ridiculous amounts of time on my bike, The Intern and The Intern’s Girlfriend for sticking with me, John, and even the pedestrians that gave me something to think about besides how much longer I have to ride.

The Intern, Me, and The Intern’s Girlfriend (Amanda)

At the end of the day I could have gone faster, but this ride wasn’t about time it was about finishing and spending time with my friends. I surprisingly feel good after the ride. The only thing sore is my throat from saying “On your left. Thank you” all day.

The only thing I would have done differently would be to remember the DZ Nuts. I’ve never used Chamois Cream before but I’m pretty sure it would have helped.

I can’t wait to do it again next year!

Post Ride Photo


100MoN Race Report #10: Cancer-Surviving, Bad-Crash-Surviving, Former Teen Endurance Cyclist Edition

06.8.2011 | 11:28 am

I was diagnosed with Leukemia when I was not quite 7 years old.

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary, at 17 I decided to sign up for a cycling endurance event that raises money for cancer research (Team in Training, through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society). They train you from day 1 so that when you get to the end of the season you have raised thousands of dollars and ridden countless miles in preperation, and are fully ready to ride the entire event.

Because I was a cancer survivor, I was asked to be what they called an “Honoree” or someone who is there to tell their story, to put a face to the cause. I came all the way through all the trainings with flying colors, even completing more than a metric century (roughly 69 miles) before I had a massive high speed crash on the final training ride.

I spent 9 hours in the ER before they told me I had three cracks in my shoulder blade, was lucky not to require any bolts or plates to hold it together but that I “should consider the possibility” that I would never ride again, at least not on my beautiful road, as the pain of that position would be too great, and the control I would have through that arm of the handlebars would be so limited (“non-existent” as the x-ray tech phrased it) that I would not be able to control the bike, would crash again and would inevitably end up back where I was, and then they would have no choice but to do surgery to put me back together.

I spent the rest of the year learning how to hold a pencil again, to draw, write, and type again, and strengthening my grip enough that if I picked up my laptop bag with that hand it (hopefully) didnt give out and drop the laptop on my crash-bruised feet.

After several failed attempts of riding, I gave up “until my body was strong enough to compensate.” At the time, I am ashamed to admit, I didnt think I would ever get to the point of being “strong enough.”

Fast forward 5 years, to my 15 year cancer- and chemo-free anniversary.

I was in Kauai with my parents, my husband and son, and a couple of my mom’s friends when I announced that between then and my birthday three days later, I didn’t care what it took, I was going to rent one of the beach cruisers available from almost every street corner store and I was going to ride until I couldn’t take anymore.

My 4 year old son piped up that he was going to ride with me and pretty soon my mom and her friends joined in as well.

I made it very clear from the start that between being so out of shape and pulling the extra weight of my son in a trailer there was no way I would keep up with them. I jumped on my rental and started pedalling; without a computer or GPS to track mileage. I was alone in my category but was both pain free on the more upright bike and giggling with my son as I did some of the stupid stunts from way-back-when to entertain him (like riding with no hands, as in the picture).

Hawaii 076.jpg

I will always consider this ride to be my victory lap.

– Kari A

100MoN Race Report #9: Liberty Park Division

06.8.2011 | 10:16 am

A Note from Fatty Regarding my New Superfly 100: I promised a ride report at the end of yesterday’s liveblog, and then totally failed to give one. That’s because by the time I finished riding, it was time to be a dad / husband for the rest of the day. Imagine that. So, short version:

  • I have been riding rigid single speeds for so long that a full suspension bike feels both huge and weird. I have some re-learning to do.
  • Downhill on a full-suspension bike is a true pleasure. I was hitting stuff I’d normally avoid, just because I could.
  • The new Shimano XTR is beyond unbelievable. It’s incredibly undeniably wonderfully good. The brakes are the best I have ever used, by a lot. The shifting is ridiculously good and fast and easy.
  • A bike that weighs 7 pounds more than what you’re used to riding feels different. And not just when you’re climbing.

Expect detailed impressions soon. I’m taking this bike out again today, I think. I hope.

A “Hey, we’re in the news!” Note from Fatty: Susie Wargin of 9News in Colorado did an awesome writeup of Philip Snyder and Sara Whatmore’s 100 Miles of Nowhere. Read it here! Also, Susie is a fundraising powerhouse in her own right; she’s raised $18,000 (and is looking to raise $20,000) in the Courage Classic for The Children’s Hospital. To help her reach her goal, visit her Rider Page.

100 Miles of Nowhere: Liberty Park Division

Early on in 2011 my mother decided that she wanted to ride the Salt Lake Century as a fifty-something year old cancer survivor. However a few months into her training, she was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time.

This meant that she would be in the middle of her treatments during the ride, and would not be able to do it.

A few short days after her diagnoses I was visiting Fatty’s Blog and he had just announced the registration dates for 100 Miles of Nowhere. My first instinct was that only a crazy person would ride 100 Miles and go nowhere, but my second thought was that I should be one of those crazy people and do this ride in honor of my mom.


I picked Liberty Park in Salt Lake City as my official ride location; the outside loop of the park runs a little over a mile, which meant lots and lots of laps.

When race day arrived I woke up early in hopes of beating the traffic as Saturdays at the park can get really busy, I started my ride at 6:05am and made the rookie mistake of thinking that since the weather man said it would be 80 degrees I would be good to go in just my shorts and jersey, and let’s just say it took until about 8:30 for things to finally start warming up.

Lap number who knows.jpg

By 10:00 I had made it over half way through my 100 miles and was feeling strong. As I came around on yet another lap, I was greeted by waves and cheers from my mom and dad. It was a great motivator to have my mom there for a big chunk of the day as I was riding in her honor.

One of the best things about riding 100 Miles of Nowhere is that it was easy for friends and family to come by and show support because they knew it would just be a few minutes until I was coming back around the park (thanks everyone who came out).

worlds best support crew.jpg

I was even joined for part of the ride by my wife and son, who spent the entire day hanging out at the park and cheering me on.

The last 20 miles of nowhere were definitely a struggle, the combination of having ridden 80+ miles and the traffic at the park picking up, were really starting to get to me.

Lucky for me on the last 10 miles my wife and son were right there at the curb cheering me on every time I came around for yet another lap, and I was able to finish strong with a total of 101.1 miles!

Tre' joing the cause.jpg

Of course by “finish strong” I mean “lay down on the grass for a while and wonder if my backside would ever feel the same.”


– Paul A

PS from Fatty: After finishing his own 100 Miles of Nowhere, Paul and his family drove down to Alpine, where I got a chance to meet him in real life. He’s a great guy with a great family. Here’s us, both looking just a tiiiiiinnnny bit tired.


100MoN Race Report #8: Multiple Categories in Ipswich, Australia Category

06.8.2011 | 7:17 am

This is my metaphorical finish-line visit to the commissaire to claim first place in the “Multiple-Category Category”. The categories : mountain bike, road bike, fixie, BMX, cyclocross and cargo-bike. WITH costume changes for each category, no less.

My 160.934 Kilometres (100 miles for you metric hold-outs in the USA) of Nowhere began at dawn on a chilly winter’s day in Ipswich – 4 degrees Celcius (again for the Americans: 39 degrees Fahrenheit). First up – mountain biking. Technically the first leg of my ride was Somewhere, not Nowhere. This was forgivable because my mates were expecting me and I couldn’t let them down, and it was only 20km (12.4 miles).


Being fairly new to mountain biking I may have fallen off more than once, but being well-practised at falling off I sustained no life-threatening injuries.

After that, the bulk of my miles were achieved upon my trusty road bike, upon my hated rollers. Why, you might ask, do I hate my rollers so?

Because every so often they make me go from this position :


to this position :


Thankfully my wife and children were close by, and whenever I ended up helpless on the floor like an upside-down turtle they were quickly on the scene to laugh and take photos.

As the day wore on and there were brief spells on the fixie (with hipster jeans – very difficult to get on the bike in tight jeans incidentally) :


Followed by the cargo bike (with sensible I’m-just-going-to-the-shops attire) :


Followed by the daughter’s BMX bike :


Followed by the CX bike (very noisy tyre tread on the rollers) :

201106061618.jpg .

And finally back on the road bike again in the beloved Ipswich Cycling Club colours :


At this point I had a serious craving for some beef jerky. But I couldn’t have any beef jerky. Because the Australian Customs Service confiscated my jerky ! Darn Australian Customs….

In conclusion, some might say that this endeavour was just an excuse to parade myself on my collection of bicycles on the interweb, and they would be correct. But it was also a chance to do something silly, yet difficult, for a good cause.

– Scott K

Superfly 100 + Shimano XTR Build: LiveBlog!

06.7.2011 | 11:30 am

I’m sorry — no, actually I’m not sorry at all — to interrupt the 100 Miles of Nowhere race reports (which will continue later today and go through tomorrow and probably the next day, every couple hours or so) — with a liveblog from Racer’s Cycle Service, as Racer builds my new Superfly 100 up.

Indulge me.

4:00: Oh wait. Weight! Let’s see what we’ve got: 24.8lbs. OK, honestly I was expecting lighter.

But let’s see how it rides. Back later!

3:46: Saddle going on. I believe we are mere moments from bike completion.

I will post later this afternoon / evening with first ride impressions.


3:25: There’s a race tomorrow at Sundance. I should go race it. On this bike.

You know, I think I will.

3:18: As the bike nears completion, I have a hard time looking away. Racer’s now fine-tuning the shifting. Next up, saddle and the bottle cage. And then I’m going riding!


2:48: A couple people have asked what I got Racer for lunch. The answer is: a Steak Burrito from Mountain West Burrito. He did not want guac or sour cream, which I simply cannot fathom.

And no, I did not get a burrito (nor anything at all, in fact) for myself.

2:15: Just in case you’re interested: I’m going with Time ATAC pedals, a Selle Italia SLR XC saddle, and an Arundel Sideloader bottle cage.

I’m guessing this bike will weigh ~22lbs when fully built. Anyone want to weigh in (ahem) with a different guess?

2:10: Getting close to finished! Things left to do: shifter cables, chain, saddle, brake cables.


And yes, it looks like Racer’s gonna need to shorten the brake cables today after all. Too bad!

1:21: I’m heading out to go buy Racer some lunch. More blogginess soon.

1:13: The line for the front brake is in fact a little bit long, but we’re going to go with it for today, in large part because it’s just a shame to lose the factory bleed. We’ll cut it down later. And by “we,” I of course mean “Racer.”

1:09: Racer’s starting on the brakes. This is a nervous part of the build. If the as-shipped line length goes well with the bike frame, this can go quickly. If the line has to be cut because the frame is too small for that length of cable, then there’s gonna be a lot of work.


1:05: Look at that sad box of parts. Like they’re from Island of Misfit Toys. Don’t worry, bike parts, you’ll find a good home. I promise.


1:01: It’s all starting to come together! Racer’s got the cranks, derailleurs, stem and handlebar on. I believe this is going to be a fine bicycle. Just fine.


12:51: I apparently misread Ashley’s comment. Sorry, Ashley! In answer to your question, yes I work from home most days. Today is a PTO day, though.

12:46: NickP asks, “Is it weird that I want to lick those spokes?” To which I would answer, “See my remark @12:35.”

NickP also wants to know where I’m taking this riding once it’s built. I haven’t yet decided: either Frank or a tour of Corner Canyon. Maybe both.

12:43: From the comments, Ashley asks, “Fatty, you, uh, bored today or something?” To which I respond, “Ashley, not every post is for every reader. From your comment, I’m guessing this one is not for you.”

12:35: OK, the cassette is beautiful, but the new XTR cranks are pure sex.


I’ve always had a thing about cranks, though. Is that weird?

Oh, you can see where I’m blogging from in the background of this photo. Just in case you were curious what kind of a setup I’m using.

12:30: The Shimano XTR cassette is a thing of beauty. I mean that quite literally. Really excellent engineering has an elegant aesthetic that I think qualifies as art.


12:22: James is asking about tires. Crossmark’s don’t come in LUSTs for 29ers. And apparently, I’m actually getting an Ardent front as well. Why didn’t I know what tires I was getting? Cuz I’ve been using the Schwalbe’s and thought that’s what I’d do on this bike. Racer let me know that he couldn’t get Schwalbes (he can again now apparently) and so I told him to surprise me with something he likes.

It’s nice to be able to trust your mechanic enough that you can say “surprise me” without any concern whatsoever.

12:16: Check them out: two tubeless, carbon, 29″ beauties. Keith (Bontrager’s friends call him “Keith”) has reason to be proud.


12:12: Ross asks a good question: what kind of questions should you have when you go into a shop buying your first mountain bike? Racer says you shouldn’t worry so much about questions as have answers to the questions the shop SHOULD be asking you. As in, make sure the person at the shop is someone who asks you what you’re going to be doing with the bike and learns about how you want to use it. If they start recommending a bike before then, wrong shop.

As far as things to ask the shop, ask about whether you’ll get discounts on accessories, service plans, and such. There’s a good chance the shop will want to form a relationship with you and will offer you incentives to come back.

12:07: Josh in Upstate NY says he’s going to be in the area and wants a place to rent a bike. Racer doesn’t do that kind of thing, but there are a couple other places that do. Call Racer’s shop, Josh, and they’ll point you in the right direction.

12:05: David-Marin,ca asks where all the “old” (as in brand new) parts are going. A great question. My plan is to buy a frame and build a mountain bike for my 15-year-old son.

12:00: Here’s Racer putting the tire sealant in the tire for the rear wheel. The tire? A Maxxis Crossmark. I’m usually a Schwalbe Racing Ralph guy, but I’m trying something different here.


11:55: Alert reader Superstantial asked why I have two stems. This is because Shimano is awesome and sent me a couple to try out: a 100mm and a 110mm stem. I’m pretty sure the 110 is going to be what I go with, but the 100 will definitely find a good home somewhere.

I’ll be checking comments as I liveblog, so if you’ve got questions — including questions a bike mechanic might answer — ask away. I’ll ask Racer and probably mistranslate his answers here.

11:53: Racer has asked me if I would like to have the pie plate installed on my Bontrager XXX wheels. I have declined.

11:47: Racer’s working on putting rotors on the wheels. He’s hunched over the wheels and is in general not being very photogenic at the moment.

So I’ll take a moment to give you an interesting anecdote. Specifically, did you know that Racer’s actual name is in fact “Racer?” It is. See, back in the old days, his name used to be “Jared,” but he worked in another bike shop that already had a Jared. To distinguish between the two, we called the other guy Jared and we called the Jared who raced a lot “Racer Jared.”

After a while, we stopped saying the “Jared” part.

And a while after that, Racer made it legal. I’m pretty sure a lawyer did the work for him in exchange for having some bike work done.

Interesting factoid: 85% of bike work is paid using the barter system. For example, I am paying Racer entirely in egg yolks.

11:43: Doesn’t take Racer long to strip the frame to its raw, naked glory:


I just asked Racer, by the way, how long this build will take. He says he’d be surprised if he finishes it in less than three hours.

Yeah, so would I. In fact, In my entire life, I don’t believe I have ever witnessed a bike shop build a bike for me in fewer than five hours. This might have something to do with the fact that other customers — the pests — always want something RIGHT NOW, not realizing that my bike build is much more important and urgent than whatever it is they need done. Sheesh.

11:37: The bike, pretty much ready for all the parts to be taken off and replaced with much sexier parts:


11:35: Racer, as we begin the unboxing, holding the frame.


Is that raw, unbridled lust in his eyes? Probably.

11:30: OK, here are the stars of the show. First, I have a box of Shimano XTR goodness. Which is to say, you know how the Superfly 100 is an unimaginably sweet bike even when it’s totally stock?

Yeah, well, mine won’t be stock. It’ll be full XTR. Behold:


11:22: I just got here; Racer’s about to get started.


Unboxing starts in a second.

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