I was competing in the 100 Miles of Nowhere Las Vegas Block edition. As I posted here, I signed up for this for the first time this year back in mid-April. I figured I would have lots of time to train, get my stamina up and be ready to go. While i had the time, things didn’t quite work out as well as I had hoped in that regard. My longest ride leading up to this event was only 20 miles.
My swag showed up 2 weeks ago. Great swag from all of the sponsors. Here is my race plate.
As I planned my event I decided to use laps around my block as my course for the event. From training and testing ride I determined that it was approximately .47 miles around the block. Doing the math that meant I would need to do 213 laps to hit 100 miles.
One concern I had was with the forecasted temperatures for June 1st. !0 days out the forecasted high was 101 degrees Fahrenheit. Way too hot to ride in all day. Since a lot of my training is done before work when it is nice and cool, I decided to start my ride nice and early in order to try and beat the heat. So my plan was to get up and be on the bike by 4:00 AM.
As I posted here, I had just changed my seat and did a quick shakedown ride to check the position. Friday night I washed my cycling attire, laid out all my supplies for before and during the ride, set my alarm for 3:30 AM and went to bed early for my at 9:00 PM.
The alarm went off, what seemed like way too soon and it was time to get up and get going. I got dressed, headed downstairs and had a banana and some Oreo vanilla cookies washed down with a bottle of Starbucks Vanilla Frappacino. I then aired up the tires and opened the garage. I was relieved to feel the cool air come in as it was only about 65 degrees. I turned on my Garmin and my lights and off I went.
The first lap wasn’t too bad except for the 10 to 15 mph wind from the west. This meant that I was pushing into the wind on the uphill prat of the lap. Not bad, but I started thinking that it might prove to be a problem later on. One lap down and a whole bunch more to go.
Very few people were out so early so i basically had the streets to myself It was relatively peaceful and quiet.
I got into a pretty good rhythm and the laps started going by. I kept a count of laps in my head and the goal was to complete at least 45 or 50 laps before I took my first rest. As I rode along I noticed that the sky to the east was getting lighter and eventually at 40 laps I noticed the sun on the mountains o the west. A few more laps and I actually saw the sun over the houses to the east.
As the laps were adding up, my saddle area was getting a little tender. Let’s face it, I just didn’t have enough saddle time leading up to this ride.
I hit 53 laps, which was 25 miles and decided it was time for a rest. I checked my Garmin when I went in and noticed that I had completed the 25 miles in 1:55 which equated o an average speed of 13.0 mph. I was right on the pace that I had envisioned before the ride. I knew I needed to get hydrated and eat some calories or I would be in trouble.
So, some powerade, more Oreos, a couple of fig newtons and I was back on my way. As I rode the next laps, the neighborhood started waking up. People were walking their dogs, backing out of their driveways and starting to do some work round their houses.
As the laps progressed I was thankful for the Garmin as I lost count and had no idea how any laps I completed. fortunately I had my distance traveled on the Garmin.
One thing to note is that during this stage I actually had a dog chase. On the opposite of our block a woman was putting her 3 dogs into the car as I rode by. I was almost by when the largest of the 3 dogs spotted me and all 3 took off after me barking. The woman called after them and within a house or two they decided to listen and turned around.
At approximately 12 miles I passed the house and my wife was there cheering me on! Thank you dear! I completed the next lap to make 12 1/2 miles in just under an hour and it was time for my next break. I had just under 3 hours seat time and a total of 37 1/2 miles so far. My saddle area was also quite sore.
A banana, a powerade, some pringles and a couple of fig newtons and I was back on my way.
My wife took a picture of me during the ride:
Not much to remark on for this segment of the ride. I did a bunch of laps, the sun was out and warming things up and surprisingly my legs didn’t feel much worse for wear. My saddle season was another matter, though. I was getting quite sore.
Just after the 50 mile mark it was time for another break. Still maintaining about the same pace as these miles took just under an hour as well. Here I was at 50 miles and 4 hours into my ride.
More powerade, a Honey Stinger Blueberry Buzz bar, a few more pringles and some oreos and I was on my way again.
I noticed that I was slightly slower and this was due to shifting my position on the saddle looking for some relief. It wasn’t to be found, though. I toughed it out to 62.5 miles and decided that was it for this event. I had completed the 100 Miles Of Nowhere Las Vegas Metric Century around the block edition. I was pleased to have made it that far since this was 3 times the farthest ride I had taken in the last 3 years.
Now for a nap, some sushi and Cold Stone Creamery.
I’d signed my husband and I up for the 100 Miles of Nowhere because this was our year. Last year I was 3 months out from having our son. Who knows what we’ll be doing this time next year. This year I was going to do it and I was dragging him along for the ride.
We discussed a few venues for the ride but weren’t feeling overly inspired. Then opportunity knocked when my aunt phoned to tell me that the cottage was free last weekend if we wanted to use it. The cottage is at the end of a tiny, rutted dirt road that’s just off another (slightly less tiny) dirt road, that’s off a pretty bust numbered highway in cottage country in Ontario. Not quite nowhere, but not really anywhere either. I’m part of the fourth generation to cottage there and cancer has touched all of the preceding generations. My grandparents both died of cancer and my aunt was just treated for it last summer. A friend in a neighbouring cottage was able to have the public health nurse deliver and administer her chemo at her cottage a few years back. The cottage is a great place to fight cancer and to relax — two things the ride to nowhere is all about.
The one problem with doing our ride at the cottage is that we would not have any help to watch our now 15 month old son while we rode. We therefore made the executive decision that this would be the 100 Mile Tour de Nowhere – a multi-stage event wherein stages would be contested while little B slept throughout our 4 days at the cottage. It was deemed that this would be considerably simpler than trying to keep his fingers out of moving bike parts.
Derek borrowed a trainer from a colleague while I used our set of rollers. The unfamiliar surroundings led to an unhappy night’s sleep for little B – and us in turn. We therefore set out on our journey [can a ride to nowhere be called a journey?] during nap time on Friday afternoon – somewhat later than anticipated. It was a cold day. The predicted high was 11 degrees Celsius and there was a fire going in the wood stove. I made it all of 1.5 kms before deciding I would roast inside the cottage, so I moved out to the veranda – a screened porch overlooking the lake. With a stiff north wind blowing in, 11 degrees wasn’t feeling all that warm, but it’s always easier to add layers and I convinced myself to just ride fast enough to get warm and stay warm. Sadly, despite my best efforts to take advantage of the weather by pointing the rollers downwind, I saw little in the way of tangible gains from the substantial tailwind.
In the meantime, Derek had changed his tire to a trainer tire and joined me on veranda riding the trainer. After setting up his bike on a collision course with mine (so we could chat), we realised what a risky endeavour this truly was. We were breaking all the rules. No helmets were worn, his earbuds were firmly in place, bells, reflectors and blinkies were left behind all while we played chicken. Oh, and our energy drink typically consisted of gin and tonics and wine – we were at the cottage after all!
Derek has asked me to point out that this arrangement had him riding into a stiff headwind.
B’s nap was short one, so we only managed 20 kms before he was up and ready for action. We’ll just call this the prologue. Not wanting to be left out, little B played was the consummate team player, fulfilling all the other support staff positions on our squad.
After 2 hours of enforced off the bike playtime, then dinner and bedtime, we were able to fit in another 20 kms between 7:30 and 8:15. Our average speed was 34.1 km/hr. This was going to be a slog. There’s no TV on the veranda. I could watch the waves on the lake. If I were lucky, a fisherman boated by or an occasional loon surfaced.
Saturday was a bit warmer, about 14 degrees, but still rainy. Friends we hadn’t seen in ages were up at their cottage on a nearby lake, so we drove the 40 minutes to visit, play and have lunch. In true Fatty fashion, we stopped at the dairy on the way back for ice cream. Upon our return, we pounded out 30 kms during nap at a higher average, ice cream powered speed, then grabbed a few minutes of kip ourselves. After dinner was another 30 kms, so we’d broken the back of this tour with 100 kms down, but there was a long way to go yet and the wind wasn’t letting up.
Sunday dawned early (they always seem to dawn early when there’s a 15 month old around) with the promise of sun and a high of 17 – much better! This called for a good, solid nap for the entire family! 2.5 hours later, we suffered a major setback when the nicer weather allowed our soigneur to discover the outdoors around the cottage. He had no idea there was an outside to explore until his silly parents opened the door and let him outside. There was no keeping the boy inside after he’d seen the trees and lake and found a ball to throw around. Anytime he was awake and inside, he beelined for a door and demanded to go outside. There was no holding him back. He’s just learning how to temper tantrum and we didn’t want him to perfect the art, so instead of mom riding while dad plays and vice versa, we all ended up outside. Afternoon nap allowed another 30 kms to be knocked off in 10 km segments. I should mention at this point that being in the middle of nowhere meant that our swag bags had not arrived in time. There was a real lack of DZ Nuts and I was feeling it so I decided that on the Tour de Nowhere there were feed stations every 10 kms on this stretch. Also, the higher temperature meant I moved the rollers and turned myself around so I had a head wind for the first time starting 120 kms into the ride!
By the time our domestique woke the mosquitoes and blackflies were out in force. We were being eaten alive! Scratching bug bites while riding rollers is a skill I perfected on the 100 Mile Tour de Nowhere. Derek developed some other skills like fishing while riding, forgetting to start the cycling computer before riding, and how to resist cringing as his wife wobbles on the rollers while itching bug bites.
The local media also came out to document our ride using helicopters
After our mechanic turned in for the night on Sunday it was decision time. We’d ridden 130 kms at this point. Did we finish the full 160 at night or wait and do a short parade stage on Monday? I decided that 5 kms is a suitable parade distance and I was feeling confident on the rollers. Our team manager was rousing us at around 7 am and the lake had been calm at that time every other morning. If it was smooth again, I would ride the final 5 kms on the floating dock.
After riding another 12.5kms I was getting really bored and was particularly sick of listening to Derek sing along to his ipod. I’d been riding with no entertainment to the 142.5 kms mark. Remember that Derek had his earbuds in? Turns out he’d brought TWO sets, but hadn’t mentioned the second set until I mentioned I was bored. I pulled out my ipod and put it on random, only to land on a very long Portishead song. Trip hop was not exactly the energetic music I needed to get me through that last 12.5 kms. I slogged and slogged and made it to the 155 km mark.
Monday morning dawned bright. Our trainer let us sleep in a bit, but the lake was still calm. Pulling on bike shorts and clothing and walking the rollers out to the dock was a bit daunting. A floating dock floats and is subject to the whims of wakes and rogue waves. I dressed our team doctor in a sweater over his fleecy pyjamas, shoes and a lifejacket and walked out onto the dock. The bugs weren’t out yet and I had a really pleasant ride.
I finished off in good time and then asked Derek to come to the dock. I told him to put the camera on sport mode, took off my shoes and dove into the lake. Good thing I didn’t stop to look at the temperature – it was about 7 C outside and the water temperature was 13.5 C. It was into the lake and out of the lake immediately, then up and into a warm shower.
A few hours later the wind still hadn’t come up, so Derek was able to do a few kms on the rollers on the dock but the bugs were doing a good job of eating him, so he finished on the veranda. He did follow my lead and jump in the lake after.
So that was our 100 Miles Tour de Nowhere. 4 days. 2 parents, 1 fifteen month old. Numerous bug bites. Fueled by Tanqueray and Schweppes. I’ve done some interesting things at the cottage over the years – the highlight till now was writing my PhD thesis. I think the 100 Mile Tour de Nowhere might take the cake now. How will we top it in the future?
I decided to do 100 Miles of Nowhere on a whim. I’ve always enjoyed killing time reading the race reports, and seeing the insanity and inanity in the ideas from Fatty’s audience. I loved it, and I wanted to be a part of it – especially since it was also for such a great cause. I signed up, and the reality of the challenge at hand set in almost immediately.
I faced a couple of problems in deciding exactly how to tackle my little part of the 100 Miles of Nowhere movement. I hadn’t ridden my bike in months and had no idea where I could bike outside in my relatively new hometown of Oklahoma City. I am also lacking the creativity and the insane ability to withstand the repetitiveness required for a “real” 100 Miles of Nowhere experience (trainer, unicycle, driveway laps, etc.). Regardless, I bravely signed up and started plotting my ride.
I ended up with a 9-ish mile loop around the most heavily populated biking trail in all of Oklahoma City: The Lake Hefner bike path. Not the thrilling tedium most look for in 100-MoN, but it would have to suffice.
Given that it wasn’t exactly an exciting ride, I decided to spice it up a bit by making it my first outdoor ride in about 7 months. Here is my little girl helping me get ready for the big ride, jaw agape at the awesomeness of my plan.
I am not good at training. To wit, I was in the midst of “not-really-training” for a half-marathon when I signed up for 100 MoN. My longest training run before that race turned out to be only 6 miles. I paid for it dearly in that race, but apparently never learned my lesson. My longest training ride before 100 MoN, was a casual one hour-ish ride on my trainer watching some old West Wing episodes. Basically, I was going to pay the price again for my rabid indifference to seriously preparing for big events like this.
The day of the big event, I got started relatively early knowing it was going to be a long day. Here I am ready to rock before starting. Judging by those jowls, you can tell I am a very serious athlete. Judging by those aero bars, it’s also probably safe to assume I am poor bike handler with no sense of bike maintenance (triathlete).
I read about the trail in advance, so I knew a little about it. But not enough to do it right the first time. My first “lap” ended up being about 13 miles because I got lost. On a big circle. This was not a good sign.
I doubled back to the car, and eventually figured out the whole route by traveling it in the opposite direction. I just didn’t realize that a portion of it went onto the road, but I figured it out eventually and was back on track to nowhere.
There really isn’t much to write about the tedious middle parts of my journey. I saw a skunk carrying something in its mouth at one point. Later I smelled what I assume was the same skunk in the wooded area I deemed “skunk forest”. I also begin to recognize a handful of other riders who were also on long rides in the opposite direction. A couple of reciprocated head nods seemed to suggest they recognized me and my suffering as well. This is the pure excitement of the West side of Lake Hefner.
They really don’t lie in the famous song about Oklahoma (OOOOOOOOk…Lahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plains). The couple of weeks of scary, devastating and tragic severe tornadic weather we saw this spring aside, even your average, everyday breeze seems just a little stiffer in my new home state. June 2, the day I did my 100 MoN, was seemingly the least windy day in months in Oklahoma, but it was still pretty gusty for about half of the loop. That light 10-15 MPH northerly wind absolutely destroyed me, and my morale. To make it worse, even though it was busy on the path, I could not find someone going a similar speed and direction to latch onto and share the work.
I tweeted after the race that the last 80 miles are the worst part of a century. This wasn’t far from the truth. I went to a dark place after about mile 35. I had a couple of PBJ sandwiches, three or four Gu’s, lots of water and Gatorade, and nearly a full bag of those delicious sugar coated “orange slices”. I once read somewhere that calories cannot replace fitness. I had no shortage of calories, but I suffered massively for much of the day. This was particularly true when for some reason my Ipod spit out Rebecca Black’s “Friday”. I added it to the playlist the night before thinking it would be kind of funny. It wasn’t. It was awful. And predictably got stuck in my head for far longer than I would have preferred.
Here is what I looked like at about mile 95, heading into the wind.
I should mention that shortly after this was taken I downed my swag Honey Stinger Waffle. Fatty wasn’t lying. Those things are solid. Unfortunately for me, it was too little, too late, and was mostly just serving as comfort food at that point.
I limped in to the finish, narrowly avoiding two collisions with large groups of completely oblivious people congregating in the middle of heavily trafficked bike path. Finally, I was done.
I cannot tell you how hard it was for me to take this picture. All I wanted to do was fall over. Maybe die. Not sure at that point.
At the end of the day though (after 5 or 6 beers anyway) I felt much better. And even during the most difficult moments on the ride, I felt great about taking part in 100 MoN! It was all for a great cause, a cool T-shirt, a water bottle and a delicious comfort waffle. Thanks Fatty!
A Note from Fatty: I’m really liking Eric Sevy’s (the author of this report) writing. If you do too, you should check out his excellent race report from the Rockwell Relay.
I’ve done 100 miles on a trainer before. In fact, I’ve done it many times, due to the fact that I lived in Panguitch, UT for 15 years where the summer biking season stretches from 11am on July 4th to 6pm on July 4th.
Yes, I am stretching the truth in that statement a little. I’ve personally seen it snow at 1pm on The Fourth of July Parade, thus ending summer after two hours.
I’ve also sat on a set of rollers and stared at a wall for 7 hours, due to the fact that I now live in Las Vegas, where it’s 110 degrees with a 25mph wind as I type this.
Which of course gives me great insight into how it would be to ride 100 miles inside a hairdryer.
I needed a new challenge for the 100 Miles of Nowhere that didn’t include trainers, rollers…or hairdryers.
Then it hit me! Why not go everywhere while going Nowhere? So I proudly announced to my audience (which consisted of my wife and dog) that for The 100 Miles of Nowhere I was going to pedal a loop from The Statue of Liberty to the Eiffel Tower!
…the little ones in Vegas.
THE PLAN OF ATTACK
I went about laying out a course on The Las Vegas Strip that started at the famous “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, which for trivia buffs isn’t even located in Las Vegas, and would turn around at the slightly more fabulous Fountains of The Bellagio which, likewise, isn’t located in the city limits of Vegas either. So there it was, a five mile loop of The Las Vegas Strip that would take me past NY, NY and Paris located completely within the city limits of Paradise, NV. (Feel free to get the lyrics “They Paved Paradise to Put Up a Parking Lot” stuck in your head now.)
Off we go….
BENEFITS & OBSTACLES
I had strategically planned the start time. I needed to wait for the party revelers and club-hoppers to drag their butts home, but get in as many laps before the airport traffic started shuttling the broke tourists to their return destinations. And so I pushed off at 5am. Sunrise comes about 5:30am in Las Vegas this time of year but I was fully prepared with my bike headlight and flashing tail light.
I would pass a single light, on top of a pyramid, that, rumor has, can be seen from space.*
*Note for the curious: a 70 lumen head light has no effect in the man-made canyon of casinos that line The Strip.
The flashing neon signs and blinding lights beaconing passerby’s presented a problem. They reflected off the slick pavement and obscured obstacles such as beer bottles and limos driving without their lights turned on. Before the first lap was completed I nearly rear-ended a limo slightly longer than an aircraft carrier. But I figured if I was going to be responsible for an accident, hitting a limo was in my favor. I could plead with a judge that I was doing
it with two worthy causes in mind. The first, I was raising money for Camp Kesem. The second worthy cause is that anyone who has ever driven on The Strip knows all limo drivers deserve a bike shoved up their wazzu!
When I planned the course I knew I had a hidden benefit; The Strip is crowded with street peddlers and on every corner is someone selling “Water for $1!”. These peddlers are frowned upon by the casinos because they interfere with their ability to sell the same “Water for $5!” inside their establishments. But for me it meant not having to carry extra hydration. I would simply have to fight my way through Transformers and Elvis’ (both the fat stamp and skinny stamp versions) to get more water.
My new support vehicle
This is what a lifetime of peanut butter and bananas will do
DRUNKS, TAXIS & TOURISTS
Las Vegas Blvd (The Strip) is actually a wide street but it doesn’t have bike lanes. Actually, the vehicle lanes are slightly narrower than an average street to condense space and add an extra lane. Over the next 5-6 hours I would be sharing this space with three main groups: Drunks, taxis and tourists and usually they’d be intertwined with the first, using the second to transport the third. Nevada is a “3 Foot Law” state and recently Las Vegas has begun a big campaign to promote this, but as anyone knows “The Strip” is in a world of it’s own. And it obviously doesn’t have a “3 Foot Law”. I’d even bet that in the world of The Strip the law requires a motorist passing a bicycle to be WITHIN 3 FEET!
In the middle of the race someone asked me what it was like to ride a bike all day long, up and down
Las Vegas Blvd. Okay, I asked myself that question after the 66th close call with a taxi, but it doesn’t diminish my intelligent answer: have you ever rode a bike? Have you ever played Frogger?
Do Both at once!
No bike lanes + Tropicana Intersection = suck-o-rama
THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY
In laying out my route I picked the widest, straightest, flattest part of The Strip but inside this sectionis a big pitfall. The halfway point of the loop is the intersection of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd; statistically the most dangerous intersection in the Vegas valley. I would have to pass through this 40 times.
It wasn’t long before this would rear it’s ugly head and have me changing the course on the fly. An accident had shut the intersection down. I was going to have to sit on my bike and wait for the accident to clear. But then I saw my chance. There are pedestrian walkways over this intersection.
I bunny-hopped my bike onto the sidewalk, pedaled down the walkway, went up the escalator, across the pedestrian bridge and down the other side. Waiting there with a camera was my wife who snapped a great photo of me in front of The Statue of Liberty.
A FITTING END
My loop ended up being a little longer than 5 miles as I’d forgot to take into consideration the U-turns. As I came to the end of Lap 19 my odometer read 95.6 miles. For an instant I considered calling it good but the cyclist inside me spurred me around the turn and I started the last lap.
It was a good move. At the end of the 20th lap my computer read 100.7 miles and a group had just pulled in to take a picture in front of the famous sign. They were a bunch of kids in town for a paintball competition. I found out that they enter contests to help an Autism Charity. And I thought- How fitting is this? That athletes from two obscure sports, both working for charity, would meet up in such an unlikely place and be able to snap a photo together…
It is finished.
I declare myself the winner of The 100 Miles of Nowhere: NY,NY to Paris and back, and back, and back, and….
- Eric Sevy
I started reading this blog around the time of last year’s 100 MoN. I thought to myself, those people are nuts. But, as I started riding more and learned more about why this event came to be, I decided that this was something I had to do. Having never ridden 100 miles to anywhere, I figured that riding 100 miles to nowhere was as good a place to start as any.
My original plan was a triathlon to nowhere, but I’m not cool enough to know anyone with an Endless Pool, so I settled on a duathlon—95 miles of riding on a trainer with 5 miles of running on a treadmill. I thought it would be nice to get off the bike occasionally, so I would ride 19 miles and run a mile. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat and done. With low resistance on the trainer and high gear on my bike, the day should be downright delightful. The best laid plans…
I wasn’t able to ride on the official race date, so I started riding the morning of Sat. May 25th. I was caffeinated and ready.
(What more do you need?)
(Gaining inspiration from those who have gone before)
This was a terrible idea
Somewhere around mile 21 or so, I realized, I’m not in running shape, which left my legs tired. So, I quickly went from smiling…
To seriously reconsidering life choices…
Because I told several people I was doing this have immense willpower and resolve, quitting was not an option. At some point, I settled into a rhythm of bike, transition and run.
(Shoes still clipped in…I hear it’s a thing.)
I finished 100 miles in 8:46:00, winning my division and setting a new course record. The winning time included the unsanctioned and unofficial 3 rd event of sitting on the couch complaining. I daresay it was my strongest event.
(It’s important to refuel after a strenuous effort.)
What I learned
- I only hate running when I’m doing it. Sitting here at my computer, a run sounds pretty good
- You can only drink so much orange Gatorade
- Running in bike shorts is awkward, at best
- Anyone who would participate in such an event is the best kind of crazy
- I will never do this event again…indoors
Thank you to Fatty for putting on this event year after year and to all the swag-givers for giving swag. This was an awesome experience…I can’t wait for next year!
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