100 Miles of Nowhere Race Report: Winner of the 33.3 Miles of Nowhere Division

03.18.2016 | 9:12 am

A “Something to Listen To During the Weekend” Note from Fatty: The new episode of the Paceline is out! Find and subscribe on iTunes, or listen to it here:

We talk about How to Ride the Correct Speed, about a cyclist who got bullied by a cop, stayed cool, and won in the end, fought the law and oh-so-much more. It’s a fun episode. More details at Red Kite Prayer.

A Note About Today’s Guest 100 Miles of Nowhere Post: This fantastic story of someone who took the idea of 100 Miles of Nowhere and made it into a fantastic, fun, fundraising group ride comes to you courtesy of Lorie of the Care Free blog, where this was originally published. It’s awesome. Enjoy!


When I signed up this year,  I never intended to ride.  I’ve only been riding for 3 years. I can’t ride a century or even half a century. I just thought Camp Kesem was a fun cause to support. 

But I started thinking that I could ride part of it,  or maybe I could get a couple of friends to ride 33.3 miles so our combined miles would total the 100 mile.  But if I could do that, maybe I could be brave enough to ask the bike club I ride with to join me.  So 33 miles of nowhere event was born…


To my amazement when I posted the event, people actually signed up.  Even more surprising,  people showed up. and then rode.  Up and down, then up and down a path for a great cause.  It seems cyclist are by nature really attracted to free stuff and great causes. 


We chose a really intense route.  Okay, maybe more casual – ride north then south, then north again  then little a south to the end.


The city of Peoria has been kind enough to build a great canal bike path.  Almost 20 miles of cement trail without a single car.  The only problem is that it does not actually go anywhere.  The northern end just drops into the desert and southern end turns into gravel – maybe not the most impressive route but perfect for what we needed.  


The riders did amazing, working their way through the route’s challenges.  long bridges, sharp hairpin turns…


…and those steep climbs were no match for our cyclists.


Our expert cyclist took advantage of the long stretches to show off their mad drafting skills


While others just needed a few moment to figure out life.   How many cyclist does it take to … sort of thing

North End of Nowhere


These fierce ladies did amazing reaching their personal goals for the day. Neither had ridden 33 miles before the event.  I hear one celebrated her birthday by exceeding the required 33 miles and actually rode 50!  Woot Woot!

To add a little fun to the day . We created a very high tech 100 MON raffle – come back with pictures of local celebrities to receive  a chance at winning cool  100 MON  stuff…. Not very fancy but it worked.

Our celebrity sightings included Swiss royalty, she came in her finest attire to cheer on the riders!


Lots of riders enjoyed getting a pic with the less famous but notorious Flat Al and our great sponsors!






At the south end of the route the riders were treated to a day at Al’s Flat tire and bike shop. Where anyone could  learn to change a tire,  ask questions about their bike, or get a chance to ride a fat bike….   Good times good times,    Although I think there may have been a few donations made to the homeless guy…..


 The words of wisdom and encouragement left along the way…


… was just what we needed to finish the day!!

West Valley Casual Bike Group is just a Meetup group. But it has provided lots of  people with a shame free way to start cycling,  heaps of  rides that challenge and increase skills. And has produced a community for people who just like to ride bikes.


I am so proud of our event results:   500+ miles were ridden, 2 very large boxes of pastries were consumed, 15 item including 100MON items were raffled off, and many cyclist donated directly to Camp Kesem!!!   Great job!!!

33.3 miles to Nowhere 2015!!!!


Help Me Do What I’m Good At

03.16.2016 | 2:03 pm

A Fair Warning From Fatty: This post is going to be really dry for most of you, though hopefully pretty interesting for a few of you. It’s going to seriously blur my blog life and my career life. There will be links to my résumé (and to my LinkedIn page), and there will be pie charts illustrating my analysis of the Fight Like Susan crowdfunding survey I conducted a few days ago.

What’s Going On And How You Can Maybe Help

I’ve been working at a startup company for the past two-plus years. Unfortunately, they’ve had to cut me back to very part-time hours and pay. Without getting too deep into it, I’ll now be making 15% of what my salary was.

We can’t live on that. Not even close.

I need to find a job, and if you have connections to a company that could use a very experienced Storyteller (sometimes called a “content marketer”), or very experienced Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager, or just a remarkably disciplined and creative — yet almost ridiculously technically-gifted — content guy in general, please: introduce us. 

If you have something you think I’d be interested in, don’t be shy. You can use email (I’m fatty@fatcyclist.com, as you probably know), text messaging (my phone number is in the PDF of my résumé), or LinkedIn messaging.

How I’m Using My Time Right Now

Meanwhile, I have time, and I intend to use it fully. Starting next week, I’m going to launch a friends-of-fatty crowdfund / pre-order of the book I’ve intended to write for several years: Fight Like Susan

I will give you more details about the content of the book next week, but for now, here’s what I’ve learned from you about how this pre-order ought to work.

First, it looks like a large enough percentage of you want to buy a copy that this is not a completely insane idea. 
Between last Friday and Monday (a four-day period), 420 of you answered my survey. The first question was the most critical: how likely are you to buy a copy?

Your response was overwhelmingly encouraging:

Screenshot 2016 03 16 13 07 26

74% of the survey respondents said they definitely plan to, with another 14% at least willing to consider it. Now, I understand that this group is self-selecting, but I choose to still see it as a really hopeful sign. 

Second, you told me how I ought to price the book.

To be honest, I didn’t expect to get such clear direction on what the price ought to be for the book, but you were very helpful:

Screenshot 2016 03 16 13 11 29

$19.95 is the most popular option, but $14.95 and $12.95 were up there, too. As of this moment, I plan to make $14.95 the default price. If you want a signed version, that will cost $19.95 (58% of you indicated you’d be willing to pay $5 – $10 extra for the signed version, so this works out nicely for you).

And if you are in a tough financial spot (which I completely understand) but want to read or gift it to someone, then you can pay $12.95…and if the math works out, I may also include a $9.95 version. 

Third, I need to have a Kindle plan.

I guess I shouldn’t be at all surprised by this next chart, since I do about 90% of my own reading on the Kindle app for iOS devices. Still, I admit it, this does surprise me: 

Screenshot 2016 03 16 13 20 43

Yep, more of you want this book in Kindle format than you do in paperback.  We live in the future, folks. 

How much will I charge for the Kindle version? $9.95, I believe. 

Fourth, I need to rethink my “Podcast and Letter” incentive. 

One idea I had as an upsell incentive was to provide an exclusive ongoing podcast and newsletter for people who pay a certain amount. Here’s what you all thought of that idea, in terms of how much you’d pay:


Screenshot 2016 03 16 13 28 09

Just about a quarter of you were interested in paying for this, which isn’t bad. If 2000 of you buy a book and a quarter of you paid $10 for a weekly podcast / letter from me saying how the is going, that’s $5000, which is a good amount of money.

But one person left a comment saying: 

I don’t think i’d pay more for the podcast, etc on the book process. But I think it’s a good idea to do that anyway…blog the entire thing, basically give it away for free. This will bring in more people who are willing to buy it when it’s done.

When I read that, I realized it made so much sense. So that’s what I’m going to do: have Fight Like Susan Progress episodes on the FattyCast, and talk about (and excerpt parts of it) as I write. 

Fifth, you have several good ideas for me.

I was really glad I left a place in the survey for comments; many of you left some really thoughtful, useful insights I’m considering making part of this project:

  • Kindle + Paperback Option: Several people noted they’d like to have both Kindle and paperback versions of the book. I think that makes perfect sense and plan to have a bundle with both at a good price.
  • T-Shirt, Jersey, Socks, Bottles: This was the single most frequently-made comment: where are the incentive levels for these items? I’m working on design now and will have them as part of this project.
  • Audio Option: I was surprised how many of you want an audiobook option for this book. It’s a daunting idea, but I’m intrigued by it. I think I might make it a “stretch goal” target. I’ll have to figure out how that might work (and I’m open to suggestions). 
  • A “Just Donate” Option: A number of very generous folks said they’d like to just be able to kick in some money, either as thanks for a lot of years of bloggage, or because they’re just really nice.
  • An Outrageous Option: I’m not sure what this should be, but I’m certainly open to suggestions.

I’ll be launching this pre-order next week, and I’ll begin writing the book itself next week. Be on the lookout for that. 

this is a weird, scary, intense, very educational time for me right now. Whether you help by pre-ordering a book or by pointing my résumé out to someone who might have work for me, I appreciate it.

New FattyCast: Talking with Pelotonia CEO Doug Ulman

03.15.2016 | 11:05 am

A Note from Fatty: If you took the time to fill out the survey I was talking about in my recent posts, thank you. Your feedback has been incredibly helpful, and now I’m working on incorporating it into my plan. I’ll let you know what I’ve learned and plan to do soon.

Doug Ulman is the president and CEO of Pelotonia, an Ohio-based charity that can make the unusual claim that 100% of its rider-raised funds go toward high-risk, high-reward cancer research.


But Doug’s history with cancer goes way back, including having his own foundation, being the president of Livestrong during the good and bad times.

Doug was one of the many great people who inspired me to fundraise for important causes, and he’s the one who introduced me to Camp Kesem.


Doug doesn’t talk from an abstract place when he talks about cancer. He was diagnosed with cancer about twenty years ago. Or make that diagnoses — Doug was diagnosed with cancer three times in a one-year period. 

It’s been a while since he and I have talked, and I was looking forward to catching up.

In this FattyCast, Doug and I talk about the differences in fundraising for cancer awareness, treatment, and research.

We talk about why fundraisers so frequently center around cycling events.

We talk about things we hate people saying about cancer.

And we talk about regrets and lessons learned at Livestrong after Lance Armstrong was found to be a cheater. 

This is a thoughtful, enlightening episode of the FattyCast. I think you’re going to enjoy it.

on iTunesStitcherFattyCast.com, or on my fattycast.com/rss feed.

Or just listen / download it here:

How to Ride the Correct Speed

03.13.2016 | 3:49 pm

A Take This Survey Note from Fatty: Late this week or early next week, I’ll be launching a crowdfunding project, to help me make ends meet while I work on the book I’ve been wanting to complete for several years: Fight Like Susan. (Check last Friday’s post for details.) 

Between now and then, do me a favor and (if you haven’t already): click here and take this survey to help me understand which of my incentive ideas are good, and which I should forget about. I’ll let you know the results soon. 

How to Ride the Correct Speed

From time to time, I get email from my readers. I treasure each and every one of these letters, and take care to read each message, consider it carefully, then to answer fully and thoughtfully. In the order received.

Unfortunately, I receive email at a rate that exceeds my ability to respond, which means I am desperately behind in my email responses; I am currently answering email I received in May of 2005 (i.e., the month after I started this blog).

As you may expect, some people are quite perplexed to be receiving responses to questions they no longer even remember asking.

This, however, does not mean the questions are not worth answering. It just means that, frequently, my responses are returned because — more often than not — the person I’m writing to no longer has their AOL or Compuserve email address. 

Which means I need to reply to the question in this public forum, in the hope that my response will reach its intended audience.

Such is the case in the letter I am replying to today.

Dear Mr. Cyclist,

I like riding with other cyclists, but I worry that I’m holding my faster friends up. How can I let them know that it’s OK with me for them to ride on ahead, that I don’t mind if they drop me and then rendezvous later?


Rick Sunderlage 
(not my real name)

Dear Rick,

Your heart is in the right place, but you have weak mind. If you were capable of thinking clearly, you would realize that you are not asking the right question. In which case instead of wondering how to properly communicate that you are OK with other people going faster than you are, you would be asking this much more important question:

What is the correct speed to ride my bicycle?

This is the question I choose to answer, with the intention of ignoring the question you actually asked.

You’re welcome.

The Wrong Speeds

When it comes down to it, there are really only three speeds a cyclist can ride: too slow, too fast, and just right. As you may have just realized, the correct speed to ride your bicycle is at the just right speed. 

But how can you tell if you’re riding at just the right speed? Well, that’s not as difficult to figure out as you might think.

All you have to do is go on a ride with me.

If, as we ride together, I start half-wheeling you, that’s a pretty good indicator that you are riding too slowly.

If I push the pace up by a mile per hour each time I start my pull, that means you are probably going too slow.

If I say, “Hey, how come you’re going so slow?” you are almost certainly going too slow. 

The remedy for this problem is for you to go faster. 

But be careful when you do this. Because if you start half-wheeling me, you are obviously going too fast. And that’s not cool. Not cool at all. 

Or suppose, as we ride together, you start slowly pulling away, and I jump to catch your wheel, but then find I can’t quite do it and you build a gap I just can’t bridge, and you drop me.

When that happens, you’re going too fast, and that’s a character flaw you may want to address, because it means you’re being selfish and not taking my needs into account. As if this ride is all about you, when in fact I think we can both agree it is actually about me

Try to remember that in the future. You think you can do that? Thanks.

The Correct Speed

Allow me, then, to make a recommendation. Instead of riding faster than I do, or slower than I do, ride at precisely the same speed I’m riding at the moment. By doing this, you’ll avoid the twin problems of making me wait for you, and of making me go faster than I want to (or am capable of, I suppose).

For example, I have noticed many times that practically everyone goes too fast on technical mountain bike descents. I am so disappointed in these people; they should have the courtesy and common sense to go the correct speed (mine).

Then these same people will go an entirely other wrong kind of speed during climbs, forcing me to drop them. It’s not that I’m trying to put the hurt on them or anything; I’m just going the correct speed for the climb. 

Please bear in mind that this, the correct speed, is subject to change without notice, and may in fact change multiple times during a given ride. For example, if I’m feeling good that day, the right speed for the ride can be surprisingly rapid.

If, on the other hand, it turns out a little later in that ride that maybe I’m not feeling as great as I originally thought, the correct speed may drop precipitously.

How is it possible that no matter the speed I am going, it is the right speed for the occasion? I’m as mystified by this as you no doubt are.

And yet, it’s manifestly true. No matter what speed I ride, it always feels like I’m going the right speed, and that any other speed would be either recklessly aggressive, or dilly-dallying.

All you need to do, then, is just imagine we’re riding together, and just go the speed I would go if I were really there with you. 

Just don’t half-wheel the imaginary me you’re riding with. Even my imaginary self thinks that is not cool. 

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.

« Previous Page« Previous Entries     Next Entries »Next Page »