My first century and my first time entering the 100 miles of nowhere, ended up being the 106 miles of nowhere, went surprisingly well. I have been riding for 20 years, 11 years as a mountain biker and 9 years ago got into the road side of cycling. I use my road bike for commuting to and from work most days and ride my mountain bike on the weekends for fun. The longest ride I had ever done was 64 miles and that was a few years ago. I regularly ride 40 to 45 miles a day for my commute to work so I knew I should be okay as long as I ate well. My plan was to ride a 3 mile loop around our neighborhood then once the kids were up and going I’d ride a .4 mile loop around the park near our house with them. The 3 mile loop has about 50 feet of climbing per lap, and I planned on an easy, all day pace.
I woke up at 5am to get a head start on this ride and woke to the sound of rain. Here in SE Washington we don’t get a lot of rain. Only when you plan a large outdoor event will a rain storm come through. At least it was warm at 62 degrees. Being a bike commuter I have fenders (SKS Raceblades, highly recommended) I put on my road bike whenever it rains and some Pearl Izumi barrier lite shoe covers to keep my feet dry. It was early and my face showed much enthusiasm.
Not my happy face
So off I went at about 5:40 am and started riding. The first 30 miles were fairly uneventful until I got a flat tire. So I turned around headed to the garage to fix the flat, make a pit stop, and eat a snack. By this time the rain had let off, the wind was picking up and the roads were starting to dry out. I took the fenders off, hosed the grit off my bike, and rode another 20 miles.
The sun came out and was pushing 75 degrees by 9:15 and I went home to change clothes, pick up the kids and my wife, and eat again. It took about 30 minutes to get them ready.
My wife joined us in our .4 mile loop a few minutes later and escaped photo proof of her riding but she was there. I had also switched to my mountain bike so I could have some help. My 5 year old son was all too willing to push me along.
We spent about an hour and half goofing off riding around the park, through a monster puddle the rain left behind and logged about 6 1/2 miles. The family went in to eat lunch about 11:15, I went and jumped on my road bike for more of my 3 mile loop.
About 30 minutes later my phone rings and my wife made me lunch so I went home and ate the best sandwich, like, ever. And I went back out. Since I brought up food, I had been eating a Double Chocolate Crisp Harvest Bar or a Honey Stinger Waffle and a Vanilla Power Gel about every hour or so. After receiving my 100 MoN care package I fell in love with Honey Stinger Waffles. I ordered two cases one in honey and one vanilla. I ate 4 of them during the day, 2 of each flavor, 4 Harvest bars and about 4 Power Gels. I also had 6 bottles of water ready in the fridge so I could just grab some fresh ones whenever I came in for a pit stop.
So, back out on the road, I still had 31 miles to go to hit 100 and I was feeling pretty good but it was getting hot and the wind was blowing harder. The loop I was riding has a small rise into a headwind but the back side is a gentle downhill with a tailwind. I could cruise the back stretch at 20-22 mph then with a little effort I could maintain 18-19 mph into the wind. I kept checking my computer and saw that with some effort I could hit an average speed of 18 mph for the ride. From mile 83 on up I was determined to keep my speed above 19 mph. I watched my average go from 17.5 at mile 50 to 17.8 at mile 83. Time to start cranking, and eat anther HS Waffle. I hit mile 94, technically 100 miles between both bikes, but still at 17.9 mph, and I really wanted to see 100 on my odometer. I went back out and just drilled it for two more laps and finally hit the 18.0 mph mark and finished the ride with a lap around the park. So I rode 100 miles on the road bike and 6 with the kids.
I felt pretty good afterwards. I showered, ate a monster chicken burrito, and laid down for a bit. I would like thank my family for letting me spend all day riding my bike, and thank you Elden for a great charity event. I can’t wait for next one.
The 100 Miles of Nowhere was my first-ever attempt at completing a century ride. I am proud to say that not only did I complete the ride, but I also set some other personal records:
Most Laundry Per Mile
While I have spent many hours in my basement putting miles on my CycleOps Fluid Pro trainer, I usually have only been able to crank out one or two loads of laundry (washed and dried) during any one ride. During the 100 Miles of Nowhere, I completed five loads of laundry. Bonus: After the ride, I was able to convince my wife that I was too tired and sweaty to fold it.
Longest Time Spent in Basement
Sure, I have spent a few hours at a time cleaning the basement, here and there, but I have never spent six full hours in the basement on any one given day. The 100 Miles of Nowhere helped me get closely acclimated with the various nooks, crannies, and cobwebs in the southeast corner of my house.
Longest Nap in Between ‘Stages‘
Previously, my longest ride had been 67 miles. After the first 70 miles on the trainer, I decided that it was a good time for a quick break. I rinsed off, ate lunch with Mrs. Martin, and then fell asleep on the couch for an hour and a half. After the nap, I hopped back on the bike and finished my miles. I might have to try that next time I’m on a trail ride.
Most Mentions of Butthurt by Any One Person
As a beefy 6-foot, 275-lb rider, the chamois on my XXL Twin Six bib shorts was getting a bit more of a workout than it is used to. As a result, my backside was getting a little more of a workout than it had been used to. Because I know they care so deeply about the health and wellness of my rear end, I gave my family an ample amount of updates regarding my posterior distress. (Remind me to buy a bigger bottle of DZ Nuts before my next century in August.)
Most Fig Newtons Ate With Legs in Motion
I normally enjoy a sleeve or two of Fig Newtons while sitting on the couch, riding in the car, or leaning back in my cushy office chair. During the 100 Miles of Nowhere, however, I was able to set a personal record of eating two entire sleeves of Fig Newtons while riding on the trainer. Nabisco should give me an award or feature me in a commercial for their delicious morsels.
Consumption of Largest Post-Race Calzone
Most post-race meals consist of something relatively healthy in order to decrease recovery time. I, however, decided to eat the largest calzone that had ever been put in front of me in my life. Without the 100 Miles of Nowhere, I would not have been able to meet this challenge. It was my honor to consume the entire pizza pastry. However, I turned down the remaining 3/4ths of my wife’s calzone when she asked if I wanted to finish hers.
Including my longest-ever ride, that makes seven personal records set during the 100 MoN. I can’t wait until next year.
A Note from Fatty: I am pretty sure that Bill has set a new high bar for the “nowhere” part of “100 Miles of Nowhere.” Which is to say, the course he set seems even more demanding and tedious than riding rollers on a trainer for 100 miles, because at least with rollers or a trainer, you can watch movies or a TV or something. Riding 3000 times around a circular driveway, however, means that you get all the tedium of a trainer, without any of the speed or variety of a bike.
So last Saturday, as I had previously announced, I undertook to ride 100 miles on my bicycle. In my driveway. My circle driveway that constitutes a course of 1/30th of a mile per lap. I’d hereby like to confirm what all of you are thinking: I am an idiot.
But I’m also lucky enough to have the greatest bunch of friends, family, and colleagues an idiot like me could ever ask to have. And so, instead of having to go around telling everybody “Hey, I rode a 100 miles in my driveway last weekend!” – because I’m also, oddly, proud of that idiotic stunt – I can instead say “Hey, I raised over $800 for the American Diabetes Association in one day this weekend!” And THEN proceed to tell everybody how I’m an idiot.
I could also just show them the footage from the 3000 Laps to Nowhere LapCam®:
Yep. That was just three laps. In all, I completed 2,702 laps in the driveway on Saturday. Originally, of course, the plan was to do 3,000 laps. But as a storm rolled in late in the day and made a tight (and therefore, sloooooooow) course even more tricky, I finished the last 10 miles on the trainer in the house. 100 miles without leaving the yard.
And as you might guess, I learned a few things along the way that I feel compelled to share.
2,702 Laps In My Driveway
1. You can’t go very fast when you are always — and I mean always — turning. In fact, I could not average much more than 10mph. This fact set in early in the ride. Like, about four minutes in. Doing the math in my head, I quickly ascertained I was in for a long day. 10.5 hours in the saddle long.
Also, turning all the time means you have to pay attention (because not turning is a bad idea) and it means that your arms get a workout. Triceps, in particular. Who knew?
The red blotchy stain is my route. In retrospect, a red blotchy stain is not a terribly inaccurate representation.
3. A tight course has its advantages. For one, I had a cheering section consisting of my wife and daughter throughout the day. They’d come out on the porch, check to see if I was still riding around in circles like a crazy man, ring a cowbell, and then go back inside. It was nice.
I also had the occasional companion join me. Spencer is used to racing in a pack and holds his line well. But he’s a lousy drafting partner.
4. 100 miles in a small circle is harder than 100 miles worth of a “normal” century or even, say, 150 miles riding across Michigan. Somewhere just beyond mile 11 or so I began to wish Fatty had called this event “spend 6ish hours on your bike without getting very far” instead of the oh-so-specific 100 mile designation…I’m sure Twin Six could come up with a killer t-shirt for that.
Gratitude Trumps Attitude
By the end of the ride, I was downright grumpy. But at mile 80, I saw that folks following my “pledge break” tweets had donated a bunch of money to fight diabetes while I was out riding in circles all day. I got happy again, really fast. And I am left humbled by all the support and eager to ride in the actual Tour de Cure ride – another 100 mile event – this coming Saturday.
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.
100 Miles of Nowhere – Vehemence of the Suckage Edition
I’ve been told I’ve crossed a line. Matador said it. I heard it. And then I watched it sail by my ‘how will I interpret this’ radar toward the ‘just ignore it’ trash receptacle.
Sadly, I pick shit out of trash bins if they still look shiny, so it took barely a nano-smidge to realize the Matador meant the line between sanity and insanity. That while riding100 MIles on Rollers was something that could be overlooked, riding 45 times up Thomas Grade was not.
Gone too far.
Too. Damn. Far.
Speaking of radars, there was a blip of ‘shit-idiotic-bad-idea’ green on mine long before I saddled up to ride. I knew it was a bad idea. For some reason, I’d talked myself into it and I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I’m stubborn. If stubborn means oblivious to dumb ideas.
I felt bad when I got out of bed at 4.30am to get myself corrected and drive to Morgan Hill. I felt tired and grumpy as I pulled Precious out of the car to start, later than I intended and with not a whole lot of preparation for this task. And in the first hour of climbing Thomas Grade, I had my doubts that I would even last 2 stupid hours.
There was no underestimating the ‘sheer vehemence of the suckage’ on this ride.
But let’s back up. Here’s a little putty in the wall crack of this story.
I rode 100 Miles of Nowhere on rollers several years ago for this event. It was my first ever century, and certainly not one I’ll soon forget. This time, I wanted to raise the fat bar to something kinda dumb.
It should be epic to the point of ridiculous, thought I. It needs to be nuttier than a nut bar. So what’s the nuttiest thing I can think of? Where’s the smallest loop of nowhere senselessness I can imagine?
It was the very first thing I thought of. Just POP, and there it was, floating in the front of my planet-sized brain.
Weeks went by. I considered other things. Discounted Thomas Grade as a truly stupid idea. 1 mile of climbing up a grade that is either 8% or 8.7% depending on the source. A smidge over 400 feet climbing in one mile. A fast descent for a mile with no real recovery. That would be too painful. It was just an idiotic idea. Crazy. Dumb. Something a Rock with Wheels would think of.
But the thing about a planet-sized brain is to remember that some planets are rich and fruitful and oh, boy, let’s colonize that thing! And then other planets are simply dense. Or to put it another way… rich with natural resources!
So Thomas Grade kept pushing its way to the front of the idea queue. Just hovering there. And then I had no time to think of other ideas—just too busy at work. And on Thursday, I decided. Screw it. I’m gonna do it on Saturday. A week before the official event. But I just wanted it done. Just get it over with. And if it didn’t work out, I’d have a buffer week to find a new route and do it for real.
I told no one.
I didn’t even share the plan with Precious (though he must’ve wondered why I was being fussy about getting his gear skipping checked out).
I never like to think too far ahead about pain. So as much as I knew this 100 Miles of Nowhere was going to be terrible. Hell. Pain on a hillside. I also knew that if I told no-one what was going on, to fail at it would be a lone thing. Something I could keep to myself.
And then I actually failed.
I won’t go into the gory details, I think the video captures most of it, but I have never thought on a ride before that I would not finish. That I would not be able to overcome pain and tiredness and just get it done. With five loops to go—a mere 10 miles—I didn’t know how I was going to complete this dumb idea. It was dark. I was done, in the mind. Just done. Cooked. I shot a piece of video saying I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I look wrecked. Distraught. And then I say something like “Oh, let’s just get it done” and off I go.
Two loops down and it’s dark as a black hole as I begin the third loop. Just two to go after. I can do this. I can do it.
The light starts flashing about a third of the way up. I think. I assess. This is a dark climb, I think. I can probably work my way from switchback to switchback using the lights of houses, because there aren’t a lot of streetlights. But the descent. That worries me. On the previous loop, I noticed the street lights. Very sketchy distances between, and it’s a fast fast descent. I figure my ascents are probably averaging out around 13 minutes, but my descents… we’re talking 40 seconds. Imagine flying down that descent and having the light fail? Imagine? And me, with my history of letting the ground rush up to hug my face and head until I drift off into the sleepy land of Concussionville.
I pulled the pin. Turned around mid-grade and rode back to the car with a light flashing near death and a relief in my heart. I didn’t care that I was short of the 100 miles. Did. Not. Care. 4 miles short. 96.2 Miles of Nowhere.
Milkshake. That’s all I cared about. Where would I get a milkshake?
Could barely speak as I stood at the counter of McDonalds. The brain was saying vanilla shake and the mouth was saying ‘gaaahhgahh boooo blop’. I had to physically point to the size I wanted and managed to rasp out the word ‘vanilla’. I sat in the parking lot and sucked it through the straw with what remaining energy I had.
Yes. It was a dumb idea. But that’s the spirit of the event, right? That’s the whole point. It has to be a nowhere. For nothing. Pointless. And correct me if I’m wrong but that, my friends, was pointless. Eleven hours and 53 minutes of pointless. 45 times up a 1 mile, 8% grade of pointless. 100 Miles of Nowhere pointless.
I’ll leave it at that. Good luck to everyone who dares ride to nowhere this weekend! May your mind be strong and your tolerance for butt numbness be significant.