100 Miles of Nowhere, 2015 Camp Kesem Leadership Summit Edition

11.10.2015 | 7:55 am

More often than not, my bike rides blend into each other. I have a certain window of time and so head out on a ride that winds up being pretty much the same as most every other time I have ridden that course.

(That’s not a criticism of my regular everyday cycling, by the way. I see it as a virtue. I enjoy the routine.)

Yesterday, for example, The Hammer and I rode in Corner Canyon. Up the Hog, down Rush, up Canyon Hollow, down Ghost, up Canyon Hollow, down the Hog and home. The only thing that might stand out in my memory of this ride is that I crashed while going down Rush. And since it wasn’t a terribly bad crash (skinned up right shoulder, forearm and knee, bruised left hand, bump on the head), I probably won’t even remember it.

Indoor rides — on the rollers or on the trainer — are usually even more like this. What’s to remember, after all?

Well, in the case of the 100 Miles of Nowhere, 2015 Camp Kesem Leadership Summit Edition, the stuff that was going on all around me was remarkably memorable. And inspiring. 

In fact, I’m going to come right out and claim that it was one of my all-time favorite rides in my entire life.

The Day Before

You need to know that at Camp Kesem, nobody goes by their given name. Instead, everyone has a camp name. Which means that since I brought the twins, I was traveling to Fenton, Michigan with Couch and Car.

Thumb IMG 0262 1024

We rented a car, which Couch noted, “Oh good, this car will be awesome in case we need to fold cats!”

Thumb IMG 0267 1024

What a bizarre sense of humor that kid has. I wonder where she got it.

We visited the lodge at Camp Copneconic, which had already prepared for our arrival by setting up a stage for us, with posters giving leaders some basic instructions on what to do:

Thumb IMG 0269 1024

Yes, that’s right: they were going to put us on a stage to ride the 100 Miles of Nowhere, as leaders and counselors for the 2015 Camp Kesem Leadership Summit arrived in waves on buses from the airport, checking in for a weekend that would be a combination of education and inspiration for them.

And it’d be all that plus perspiration for us.

Thumb IMG 0271 1024

With mats and silly hats laid out, we were all set for the next day. We’d be starting at 12:30 — lunchtime for the leaders that were already there — with the plan to end…well, to end 100 miles later.

Meet Team Fatty 

Coming to Michigan to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere had been a little bit of a leap of faith for me. I didn’t really have a good picture of where I’d be riding, and I’d never met — in person — any of the people I’d be riding with.

Thumb IMG 0278 1024

All I had, really, was a vague idea that we’d be riding to entertain and support the Camp Kesem Leaders, and that  Bill Hart-Davidson — of 100 Miles of Circular Driveway Fame — would take care of bringing friends along to ride, a bike for me, trainers, fans, and everything else.

I was just a little bit concerned. Would they show up? Would they show up on time? Would they be nice / friendly / cool with the idea of riding 100 miles on trainers on a stage?

As it turns out, I didn’t need to worry. At all. Bill and his friends were the most relaxed, energetic, friendly group of riders I could have ever hoped for or wanted to ride with.

Here’s the crew, in our pre-ride photo:

Thumb IMG 0283 1024
Back row, left to right: Bump Halbritter, Bill Hart-Davidson, Derek Dykstra, Couch, Fatty, Car, Mike Clark, Mike Rstitch, Kaat Tahy. Front row: Jane Saccaro (“Pocket,” CEO of Camp Kesem), Jim HIgley (“Pops,” CMO of Camp Kesem)

By about 11:30 — more than an hour before we were scheduled to start rolling — Bill and his friends appeared with all their gear, including a nice setup for me. 

It wasn’t long ’til we had all the bikes lined up and ready to roll.

Thumb IMG 0277 1024

We were going to have an on-time start. How often does a group ride work out like that?

Make Some Noise

Before we began, Jane “Pocket” Saccaro spent a couple of minutes introducing us to the crew of around 150 Camp Kesem leaders who were already there. I took a moment at the mic myself to thank them for the amazing work they do: providing a safe, fun, silly, wonderful week to kids who have been affected by a parent’s cancer.

I told them a little bit about how my own daughters have been to Camp Kesem for each of the past four years, and that it is is simply the centerpiece of their summer vacation. They love the camp and everything about it, and so I of course can’t help but love the camp as well.

And then we began the 100 Miles of Nowhere…to an outrageously loud standing, stomping, shouting and cheering ovation.

I tell you, that kind of beginning does a pretty fine job of removing the tedium from a long session on the rollers.

Beads, Songs, and a Tandem

The Michiganians had had a brilliant idea: bring along a tandem to put on a trainer, so any leaders who wanted could join in for a mile or two of the 100 Miles of Nowhere with us. Couch and Car jumped on:

Thumb IMG 0387 1024

And as the day went on, dozens (if not hundreds) of leaders did, too…almost always first taking the time to don a combination of wigs, tutus, and silly hats:

Thumb IMG 0301 1024

Thumb IMG 0304 1024

Thumb IMG 0370 1024

Thumb IMG 0373 1024

Thumb IMG 0376 1024

The twins had lots of 100 Miles of Nowhere swag — socks and musette bags — I had brought along, and would surprise people with a little gift after they had put in a ride.

And also, Car got a chance to see how I would look with hair:

Thumb IMG 0442 1024

Even more awesome, Camp Kesem had bought hundreds of bead necklaces, which they gave to leaders as they arrived and registered, instructing them to come up and put a necklace on one of us and introduce themselves. 

Thumb IMG 0289 1024
A leader putting a bead necklace on Bill.

As a result, we each got to meet and talk to dozens of these incredibly motivated, positive camp leaders. I tell you: when you’re having  conversations with good people who are actively out there making the world a better place, the time (and miles) just fly by. 

Within a couple of hours, we all noticed that our necks were growing noticeably heavy from all the bead necklaces. 

Thumb IMG 0350 1024
Bump, with lotsa beads.

My single favorite thing of the day, however, was the way that from time to time, one of the Camp Kesem kids (and by “kids” I mean anyone from counselor to leader: they’re all of college age) would get up and bring a huge surge of energy by leading everyone in a camp song / shout / dance.

Here. You gotta see / hear what I mean.

Doing Good

When you’re on a stage for hour upon hour, you have time to look around. And what I saw were some pretty amazing people. 

Thumb IMG 0322 1024
Mike, riding no-handed on rollers. I cannot do this.

Thumb IMG 0339 1024
Kaat has done at least one century ride every month for the past 78 months.

Thumb IMG 0342 1024
Derek didn’t have a way to measure his progress. He just kept on going until everyone else had gone at least 100 miles.

Thumb IMG 0346 1024
Mike had a smile on his face the whole ride. Literally. Unless that’s his grimace, in which case he had a grimace the whole ride.

And looking out into the crowd, I was incredibly impressed with the people out there. The energy and kindness were just remarkable. 

For example: my twins are not super outspoken. Plus they’re quite a bit younger than anyone else was there, so it was pretty easy for them to just hang out on their own during the day, drawing and reading. But — and I saw this an untold number of times during the day — these camp counselors and leaders would wander over and talk with them, easy and natural as can be. 

And I loved how many times I saw the twins laughing and talking with these kids. It was just fantastic. I tell you: Camp Kesem has got some seriously magical magic.

And In The End

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Bill’s Michigan Team Fatty crew did somethig extra super-nice for me: they gave me the trainer with the least resistance. This enabled me to go to a big ol’ gear and spin away miles at a ridiculous rate, turning in 100 miles in just about five hours, even with lots and lots of breaks to take pictures and talk with people and stuff.

And when I got to the final mile, everyone crowded around, shouting and cheering and counting down and otherwise making me feel like I was a full-bore pro. 

And then they did it all again, just as loud and big and amazing for the second group that was finishing a little later, due to the fact that their trainers actually had some resistance.

Thumb IMG 0433 1024

Thumb IMG 0439 1024

This 100 Miles of Nowhere was something special: to do the ride at the leadership summit for the cause the  whole event is supporting in the first place. And to discover, at the end of it, that you are an even bigger fan of the cause than you were at the beginning of it.

I’ve enjoyed each of my 100 Miles of Nowhere, but this…well, this exceeded my expectations at so many levels. 

Thank you Team Fatty Michigan and Camp Kesem. It was more than worth it to travel so far…just to go nowhere.

PS: Please be certain to read Bill’s Race Report, which is considerably better than mine.


  1. Comment by Shelley | 11.10.2015 | 8:23 am

    Couldn’t be prouder to be a member of Team Fatty! I started reading the post convinced that #100MoN was the best idea ever – and I finished thinking it was even better than that. Thank you, Fatty and Camp Kesem!

  2. Comment by Tom in Albany | 11.10.2015 | 8:34 am

    Wow. What a great event! Nice job Team Fatty!

  3. Comment by Jim Tolar | 11.10.2015 | 8:37 am

    As always Fatty, your writing captures the energy of an amazing event. Thank you for posting the report and organizing an exceptional opportunity for doing good.


  4. Comment by did | 11.10.2015 | 8:39 am

    For the record, the Big Green Monster Tandem had 16.67 miles on it at the end of the day, and the highest ever grins-to-miles ratio ever.

    We’re all starting to plan next year’s edition(s) of this. Grocery store parking lot at midnight, anyone?

  5. Comment by New Zealand Ev | 11.10.2015 | 8:41 am

    Awesome, just awesome!!

  6. Comment by Dave T | 11.10.2015 | 8:57 am

    I love it real magic in that room.

  7. Comment by Doug (Way Upstate NY) | 11.10.2015 | 10:24 am

    Total awesomeness……

  8. Comment by Mark in Bremerton | 11.10.2015 | 10:26 am

    Changing the world for the better, 100 miles at a time. Fantastic!

  9. Comment by Shugg McGraw | 11.10.2015 | 10:39 am

    Just lovely.

  10. Comment by Steve | 11.10.2015 | 11:04 am

    Wonderful to see and hear. Blessings to all.

  11. Comment by AKChick | 11.10.2015 | 11:05 am

    So much awesome in this post! In the past three years, I lost my dad, my brother-in-law and recently, my mom to F-ing cancer. I really hate that disease. I hope that someday, my nephew can attend Camp Kesem. He was only 4 when his dad passed away, so I’m not sure how much he will remember about his dad, but he was an amazing man who inspired so very many people with his positive take charge, f-cancer attitude. He had a motto – choose happy. Camp Kesem is definitely a way for kids to choose happy! Thank you for the wonderfully written post and photos!!!

  12. Comment by leroy | 11.10.2015 | 11:45 am

    “Choose Happy.”

    A great summary of Camp Kesem.

    I like that.

    My dog offered to tattoo it for me, but I’m not sure I trust his penmanship.

    Or his spelling.

    I think I’ll just keep it in my head. Plenty of unused space there.

  13. Comment by Corrine | 11.10.2015 | 11:54 am

    Wow! Just wow! What a great weekend. Camp Kesem sounds like such a great place!

  14. Comment by Bill H-D | 11.10.2015 | 12:25 pm

    I’m still feeling the energy and gratitude from Friday. All those young people doing fantastic work – largely based on college campuses around the U.S. and likely one near you – was truly something to behold.

    These kids are much more than all right. :)

  15. Comment by Christina | 11.10.2015 | 1:47 pm

    We rented a car, which Couch noted, “Oh good, this car will be awesome in case we need to fold cats!”

    I laughed out loud at this!

    I think this might be one of my favorite Fatty 100 Miles of Nowhere report of late. What enthusiasm and love in that room!

  16. Comment by BamaJim | 11.10.2015 | 6:17 pm

    Great job by all, and a really cool writeup!

  17. Comment by joliver3 | 11.10.2015 | 8:06 pm

    Looks like a great event! Sorry I wasn’t able to get the time off of work to join you.

  18. Comment by davidh-Marin,ca | 11.10.2015 | 9:22 pm

    @Yann, DaveT, UptheGradeinSR , ChrisD, and all NorCal Fatties:
    UCDavis has a camp. We could plan a Camp vs Camp vs Camp ‘race’ next year. It gives us time to work it out…..and plan the prize.

    Jason B: I didnt mean to miss you, it’s in your backyard.

    Well done Elden and the Team. Next year we’ll be ‘gunning’ for you!

  19. Comment by Libby | 11.11.2015 | 10:23 am

    Sounds so much fun. I could feel the energy through your words.

  20. Comment by rb | 11.12.2015 | 9:37 pm

    amazing! You always spread the credit around Fatty, but you are clearly getting it done! Yeah for the Michiganders! Even the Michiganians!


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.