The story of this year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere really started with the second edition of this event, when Fatty posted an opportunity to join him. Being a little out my gourd, I thought it would be a great way to raise money for LIVESTRONG by not just riding 100 miles, but “selling” miles for $5.00 a mile. I ended up riding 176 miles around a 0.15-mile loop at the top of my street. The following year, I upped the cost per mile to $10.00 a mile, thinking maybe I could get to $1000. Well, I did that and more, spinning 271.5 miles on a trainer in the park. Last year, I “only” rode 133 miles, with the intent of riding on rollers, as they seemed like the next great nowhere challenge. The rollers won. I cramped within 30 miles and had to move to the trainer. I was defeated.
For 2012, I decided the rollers and I had an appointment with destiny. I began aggressively training in February with the goal of completing the 100 Miles of Nowhere in under 5.5 hours. Instead of “selling” miles, I sold songs on my playlist during the ride. I got some pretty good songs to add to my ride playlist, too. Things were progressing nicely: I was raising money, gathering songs, and putting the hurt on my legs as they got leaner and stronger.
Then the bomb dropped. Mid-trainer session on May 15th, I got a phone call from my dad. My aunt, Lisa, who endured nearly five years of continuous chemo treatment to treat metastatic ovarian cancer passed away. My sweet, wonderful aunt, with the magnetic smile, wonderful wit, and huge heart was gone. Her memorial service was Friday, June 1st, at 2:00 in the afternoon. Over 500 people packed the church to say goodbye, a testament to how she touched lives.
Logistically, there was no possible way I could ride the 100 Miles of Nowhere on the 2nd with the travel for the service. Of course, this was only a minor inconvenience as the race can be completed alone and the race was very low on the priority list considering what had transpired. When we got home, late on the 2nd, I cooked up some rice cakes, set up the rollers and fans, built a box to aid my reach for bottles and food, and did final preparations on the playlist. So there it was, the FatCyclist.com 100 Miles of Nowhere – Late Because Cancer Sucks Edition.
The emotional and physical exhaustion of saying goodbye to my aunt led me to revise my plan and just start whenever I got up on the 3rd. Really, I wasn’t going to take longer than 5.5 hours total time anyway, right?
I got started at about 10:45 a.m. PST and immediately knew I had the legs to reach my goal. I felt like I was flying, like there was no chain. It was almost as if I had wings like Aunt Lisa’s cranes blowing in the breeze from the fans next to me.
The cheering committee
Two hours and change later, I was 50 miles in and sweat-soaked, ready for my planned wardrobe change. (I know, gross, right?) The break was longer than I wanted, but was so needed. I ate and filled bottles before getting back on and cranking away. The reality of possibly going sub-5:00 was at the front of my brain.
Then it started to hurt. The doldrums set in between about miles 60 and 80 for me on most centuries. Mentally, I was cracking. Physically, I started to see big fluctuations in my 5-mile split times ,and I knew my legs were still good. Not great, but still good.
As I rolled past mile 70, I was on pace to be not just sub-5:00, but really, really close to sub-4:30. That’s total time, mind you, including the break and change of clothes. It was time to dig in and finish.
My girls checking on my progress
The miles ticked off and 4:30 seemed tantalizingly close, but still out of reach. Mile 90 came and went as I found myself powering through each pedal stroke, unable to maintain my starting cadence. Teeth clenched, I grunted my way past 95 and tried to increase my pace. In the end, I was about to explode as my 100-mile split popped up on the Garmin at 4:28. I nearly fell off the bike, sobbing with exhaustion, pain, and relief.
Grinding to the finish
The bright yellow crane Aunt Lisa’s students made as a part of the 1000+ they made in her honor I carried made it safely through the ride and will make the trip to Davis with me.
Exhausted, but done with Aunt Lisa’s crane
Sadness weighs heavy in my heart, but my aunt won. Her legacy lives on and lifted me up during the ride. Whatever pain I felt pales in comparison to those who spend months or years enduring surgeries and chemo- pales in comparison to what their families and children go through. Maybe, just maybe, what I do with Team Fatty can help ease that pain through LIVESTRONG and Camp Kesem.
It’s all over for another year
PS: This story originally published at Jeremy’s blog. Reprinted with permission.