100 Miles of Nowhere Race Report: Winner of “Most Incredible” Division

03.11.2016 | 9:25 am

A Note From Fatty On What I’m Doing Next (And How You Can Help by Answering a Survey)

Before you read today’s 100 Miles of Nowhere race report, let me tell you a little bit about what I hope to get started in the next week.

I’m going to write Fight Like Susan, the story of Susan and me and her fight against cancer.

It’s the book I’ve meant to be writing for about seven years now. Until now, however, there have always been things that have stopped me. At first, my problem was that I simply was not ready to write it; it was too raw. Then I was busy with a job, this blog and the causes I care about, and a blended family.

Now, though, I feel like I’m capable of writing this book, and want to write this book. The family’s doing great. And I have time to write the book.

That’s last bit — having time — is an opportunity. But it’s also a problem.

My sudden lack of a full-time job means I have time to write this book. But I don’t have a big pile of money set aside to make it so I can just live on that while I write, because a long time ago I decided I’d use this blog to raise money for good causes instead of for myself.

Next week, though, I’m going to ask you — for the first time — to help raise money for a good cause that is myself.

And the way I’m going to do that is by asking you to “crowdfund” the writing and publishing of Fight Like Susan. Which is to say, I’m going to ask you to pre-order the book, and to hopefully participate in various incentives that go along with the pre-order. 

And that’s why I want you to click here and take this survey. If you’ll do this, it’ll give me an idea  whether I’m on the right track — whether this is something I can and should do — or just completely nuts. It’ll also help me know what incentives you find interesting, and what price is reasonable for them.

So: do me a favor and take five minutes to take the survey. Next week, I’ll let you know what I learn and what my next steps are.


A Note About Today’s 100 Miles of Nowhere Guest Post: A giant thanks to Martin B, who took it upon himself to bring the nuttiness of the 100 Miles of Nowhere to a completely new, completely awesome level. Read on — and enjoy the photos — to see what I mean. 

This year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere pales in comparison to Jill Homer’s (aka Alaska Jill) 20,000 feet of vertical climb as she rode 100 miles of Montebello Road, or Noodle’s 5 centuries a few years back as she “Rode to Nowhere Road.” (I still watch that video. Fantastic.)

No, my inspiration came from Bill Hart-Davidson, who rode 3000 laps in his driveway. I decided I’d eschew big numbers in the vertical climb category in favor of racking up lots of laps.

Because this event is so late in the year, I’d been in full “pack on the weight for winter” mode for a good month. In fact I rode less than 100 miles in October so I had serious concerns if I could even manage 100 miles. 

My only hope was to make it as easy as possible. And that meant flat, which is impossible to do in Iowa County. What to do? Find another county.

Thanks to my intimate knowledge of East Iowa, I found a nice, secluded stretch of road along the Iowa River in a park in Iowa City, about 30 miles east of Williamsburg, my home base. My route: 0.9 miles with 11 feet of vertical climb. Sweet.

The Route elevation
My route: 0.9 miles. I followed the Iowa River, then rode past the tennis courts, around the cul de sac and back. 111 times.

I’m a pretty unassuming guy and don’t like being in the spotlight—which is why I rode last year’s 100MoN at night, 13 miles from civilization. And what says “inconspicuous” more than wearing a Santa costume? I was having fun with this plan, but I had some concerns about losing my damage deposit if I brought the suit back the velour with the velour rubbed off the suit’s “bottom bracket” and smelling of sweat. Also Santa isn’t very “Aero” and that wasn’t going to make my legs happy.

Then one day I saw a picture on Facebook of a friend wearing a Mr. Incredible costume. Turns out he owned the suit. (So no damage deposit, and since I didn’t know him all that well I wouldn’t feel bad when his costume came back smelling like a wrestling locker room). 

Besides, Mr. Incredible isn’t some fat, jolly guy—he’s a superhero. 

I was set.

November 8 was my day to ride. I arrived at City Park in the morning, with temps hovering just above freezing. It was supposed to be breezy later in the day so I wanted to get an early start.

15 100MoN 017
Mr. Incredible. Ready to start his incredible day.

And I was off! It was exciting! Ride a half mile out. Ride a half mile back. Make a U-turn in the parking lot. Lather, rinse, repeat 111 times. The park was pretty deserted, but considering it was 36 degrees out and 7:30 am, it was understandable. 

15 100MoN 004
On the bright side, I did have my shadow.

15 100MoN 008
The University of Iowa rowing team kept me company for a while.

15 100MoN 002
And this young fellow was putting up signs for a 5K run scheduled for later in the day.

Where were my adoring fans? Finally, a couple of cycling friends dropped by around mile 30—with hot coffee and bicycles.

15 100MoN 012
Bill, riding his brand-new Vaya, Mr. Incredible, and Dick. 

Thirty miles into the ride and my thighs were showing signs of early onset cramps. The wind had picked up quite a bit by now and I discovered Mr. Incredible wasn’t so “aero” after all. Seventy miles to go and and already my legs were wanting to quit. Yikes! 

On the bright side, I was one huge sail in the tailwinds. 

Bill and Dick rode 10 miles with me before previous commitments forced them to stop. I wonder if they really had somewhere else to go or if 20 laps along the river was numbing their minds as much as the cool temps were numbing their feet. Regardless, they’re fun people and they made those miles go by very quickly. 

Riding alone again, it was back to monotony.

15 100MoN 003
Riding along the Iowa River

15 100MoN 005
Tackling the first climb.

15 100MoN 006
Regroup and prepare for the second climb.

15 100MoN 007
Ride back to the start.

Riding back to my starting point I spent a lot of time figuring out how many clockwise U-turns I should do before switching over to counter-clockwise U-turns. After considerable experimentation, five is the proper number.

Around mid morning the 5K run began. I’m sure they all ran faster after hearing my words of encouragement, like “You’re incredible!” or “Keep it up! What an incredible pace!”. 

15 100MoN 010
Highly motivated runners after getting Incredible encouragement from me.

After lunch, another friend, Mike, stopped by to ride. Mike and I ride a lot together. He introduced me to crazy long bike rides—a passion of mine now. I don’t know whether I should thank him or unfriend him on Facebook.

He rode 20 miles with me—about what he rode with me in the dark last year. The wind was pretty strong and I’d done 50 miles when he showed up. My legs were not happy with me and I was looking forward to drafting Mike when we rode into the wind. What I failed to consider was that Mike was fresh, and he kept dropping me. So I made him stop and eat a peanut butter sandwich.

15 100MoN 013
My riding partner Mike. He was not a team player that day.

Mike left me shortly after “lunch” and the final 30 miles would be on my own. There were more people in the park now and it helped break up the monotony. A mother brought a rake so she could rake leaves into a pile for her toddler to jump into.

A high school senior was having her senior portraits taken. I thought about running over the photographer as she stood in the middle of the road, but came up with a better idea.

I had her take my “portrait.”

15 100MoN 014
Getting my picture taken by a “professional.”

15 100MoN 015
Looking good!

Soon, my Garmin showed I had just a few laps to go. The sun was setting in a few minutes and I was glad to be done. Considering my extreme lack of training before this, I was pleased to be finishing. 

I had put a donation box by my pickup. Beside it was a poster explaining what I was doing (no I am not a weirdo) and why. Even with my out-of-the-way parking spot, the box had $80 in it. Made my day.

So here’s a summary of my efforts. You’ll notice my climbing elevation summary doesn’t look anything like Jill Homer’s. 


15 100MoN 016
I did it!

100MoN as ridden
Interesting looking route. Reminds me of a cave drawing.

A summary of the ride. Spent a lot of time sitting still.

15 100MoN 018
Time to rest.


  1. Comment by Anonymous | 03.11.2016 | 10:33 am

    That was incredible. Nice job.
    My favorite lines: “Mike was fresh, and he kept dropping me. So I made him stop and eat a peanut butter sandwich.”

  2. Comment by Corrine | 03.11.2016 | 10:44 am

    Incredible post, Martin. Loved the photos, the action, the write up. You did an incredible job with an incredibly mind numbing route and did it all looking incredible. I agree with Fatty that you have taken the nuttiness of the 100 MoN to a new awesomely incredible level!
    And speaking of Jill Homer, in case you haven’t been following, she has less than 300 miles left to finish the 1000 mile Iditarod Trail Invitational. You can follow her tracker here. http://www.trackleaders.com/iti16. She is doing an awesome job of riding.
    And Fatty, I hope you do another interview with her for the FattyCast after she finishes.

  3. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.11.2016 | 11:23 am

    Winner! Winner! Chicken dinner!!

    Incredible!!!! (Said in my best French accent!)

  4. Comment by MattC | 03.11.2016 | 11:39 am

    Yee-ouch! You did 100 miles IN COSTUME! That’s simply INCREDIBLE! Way to go Martin!!

    I find that I compare what I’m doing to Jill a lot…(“how would Jill handle this? I bet she wouldn’t quit” and somehow I usually keep going). Between her and Noodle tho, they really take the wind out of my sails a LOT I’ve noticed. Oh, and now there’s Madeline to add to that list of inspirational ladies…17yr old high school girl who just WON the U23 24hr worlds.

    Great…thanks Maddy! I’ll go back to my man-cave and whimper some more now.

  5. Comment by Brian in VA | 03.11.2016 | 12:22 pm

    Now that’s a 110 MoN to be proud of, Martin! Well done!

  6. Comment by Jeff Dieffenbach | 03.11.2016 | 1:24 pm

    @MattC, bingo. Maybe we need to create divisions of toughness. In the spirit of cycling Cat designations, we can classify Jill and Noodle and Madeline and others as Tough 1 (or even Pro).

    I’m a middling Cat 4 CX racer. So I’m going to put myself as a Tough 4 until I earn some upgrade points.

    See, now I’m not competing with the greats, just the others around me.

  7. Comment by Dick Huber in Iowa | 03.11.2016 | 1:41 pm

    Hello, I was the one who rode with Bill and Mr. Incredible (Marty) for 10 miles…..and it completely changed my life….not really!….Mr. Incredible was incredible and he is my new super-hero….so if you ever see the man in red with the bulging muscles
    (not that bulging muscle)….bid him ado and maybe he can become your super-hero as well.

    -dick, kiwibiker

  8. Comment by Bill H-D | 03.12.2016 | 4:55 pm

    Awesome! You, my friend, are a hero. And you’ve got the Super Suit to go with it. I am happy to be the Frozone to your Mr. Incredible should the world need saving in the most absurd way possible!

  9. Comment by leroy | 03.13.2016 | 6:51 pm


    Martin, do you have a dog that talks you in to stuff?

    Nothing wrong with that at all.

    A perfect embodiment of the 100 MoN. Perfect.

  10. Comment by Pari | 03.14.2016 | 6:32 am

    Great job, Martin.

    But, on other subject, am I the only one interested in more infor regarding this sentence:
    ”My sudden lack of a full-time job means I have time to write this book.”

    Fatty, planning to tell us more?

    Yep, as I gain a better understanding of my situation, I’ll explain. I’m not being coy; things are just genuinely complicated. – FC

  11. Comment by Mbunge | 03.14.2016 | 10:36 am

    I don’t have a dog, Leroy. If i did, I’m sure I’d have done the ride in a Clifford the Big Red Dog costume.

    PS: don’t tell BSNYC the bike I used is set up to ride gravel.

  12. Comment by LT | 03.15.2016 | 11:42 am

    Two write-ups that mention Iowa City!?!? I feel like I should write up my 100MoN ride to make it a trifecta. Thanks Mr. Incredible for keeping Iowa City weird.

  13. Comment by ClydeinKS | 03.16.2016 | 8:50 am

    Mr Incredible – having previously completed a portion of the 100MoN in a Capt America helmet I congratulate your completion in full costume and posing as Martin. Fabulous location and additional fund raising!

    Now, for those Iowans competing at Madison Square Garden this week – Let’s go Hawkeyes!!


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.