A Note From Fatty: I love the way Clayton has brought important personal meaning to this (usually) ridiculous event. Be sure to read this story.
I live in Tallahassee, Florida, and started cycling with some type of seriousness in 2009 after struggling with knee issues from running and several discussions with a bike-obsessed friend.
Around the same time, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. A few months later, my aunt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. About a year later, my best friend from grad school was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Needless to say, this was a trying time for my extended family, and I started trying to find ways that I could bring some good to the situation. I couldn’t do much for any of them directly since I now live over 1,000 miles from home and was feeling a bit useless with their day-to-day struggles. That’s when an opportune internet search brought me to fatcyclist.com and life has been a bit better ever since.
This year was my third 100 Miles of Nowhere, but the first time I’ve written a report of my experience. My first year I rode a 2-mile loop around a park as many times as I could stand, and last year I did the classic 100MON on my trainer in the living room. As the majority of my riding is of the “nowhere” variety (on my trainer before the sun comes up), this year I wanted to do something a bit more fun for this event.
There is a popular “rails to trails” path on the south side of Tallahassee that leads from the city to the small coastal fishing town of St. Marks appropriately called the St. Marks Trail. This 16-17 mile path is very flat, and is nearly completely straight all the way to the end. There are plenty of restrooms, water stops, and no cars outside of the 3 road crossings.
Three out and back loops would give me around 100 miles. It is a boring ride, but perfect for this year’s 100MON.
I started the ride early in order to beat as much of the unbelievable Florida heat as I could, and set out from the trailhead at a moderately fast — but not uncomfortable — pace.
A few miles down the path I began to realize why I absolutely love this event. Especially early in the morning, the path is very quiet and a rider is left with only their thoughts for extended periods as the road has no turns and no elevation changes and doesn’t require much concentration to keep riding.
I started to think about my mom, my aunt, and my friend. I thought about the last couple of years for a short while, but mostly I thought about all of the things that make each of them wonderful and important in my life. I relived a bit of the laughter, smiles, tears, birthdays, weddings, beers, barbeques, holidays, and so many more of the good and bad times with all of them. All of these wonderful memories flooded my mind for the entire ride, and I thought about how much of me is made up of the beautiful people I know and love.
The actual riding was unexciting and uneventful, but this was one the best rides I’ve had in a long time. Thank you Fatty for one of the best gifts I could ever ask for…5 or so hours with some of my favorite people (all of whom are currently in remission and doing well). Also, thank you for helping me realize that there is always something I can do to help those in need, no matter how far from home.