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.
We rented a car, which Couch noted, “Oh good, this car will be awesome in case we need to fold cats!”
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mike, riding no-handed on rollers. I cannot do this.
Kaat has done at least one century ride every month for the past 78 months.
Derek didn’t have a way to measure his progress. He just kept on going until everyone else had gone at least 100 miles.
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.
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.
Yep, it’s a five-hour-long trainer workout, designed to replicate riding a tough century, but not so tough that you can’t do it.
The Hammer and I are definitely gonna do this one when I get back, and you should too.
This is an awesome thing for TrainerRoad to have done, and a terrific reason for you racers to open up that free month you get with the program and get started. Check out TrainerRoad’s blog about the workout, and then go do the 100MoN workout!
2. Get Inspired to Ride
If you’re registered for the 100 Miles of Nowhere, you should be getting an email today from Inspired to Ride, with everything you need for you to start watching this incredible documentary — one that I think suits “100 Miles to Nowhere” to a T. Inspired to Ride follows a handful of cyclists from around the world as they race unsupported in the inaugural year of The Trans Am Bike Race. It’s the antithesis to events like Tour de France and Race Across America. There are no teams, no support vehicles, no special jerseys and not a dime in prize money.
Just a thought: It would be pretty awesome to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere workout while watching Inspired to Ride.
3. Team Fatty and Camp Kesem: Meeting in Michigan
First, the twins and I now are in Michigan for the Camp Kesem Leadership summit. I’ll go into the details of the trip in another post. For now, just a couple of pictures:
I fly often enough that I have forgotten how amazing it is. The twins reminded me, laughing at the amazing feeling / sound / visual of taking off, and then staring out the window for about an hour. I am going to start requesting a window seat again.
When we got to Michigan, we went to the lodge where Camp Kesem leaders and counselors will be meeting this weekend, and were treated to this poster:
And this one, on the stage where we’ll actually be riding:
Yep, they’re putting us on a stage to ride the 100 Miles of Nowhere, as hundreds of camp leaders and counselors arrive today to register for the big summit tomorrow.
We kick off the ride at 12:30ET, and it would probably be a good day to follow me on Twitter, since I’ll be posting pictures and stuff as we prepare for and do this thing.
Okay, that’s a lot of pre-story stuff, but all pretty relevant to the topic-at-hand. Now…on to this week’s 100 Miles of Nowhere race report!
OK, it’s not exactly a race report. It’s more of a recovery report. But it’s awesome
Corrine’s Video Race Report
This year marks Corrine’s fourth 100 Miles of Nowhere. Or it should. Her knee, sadly, had other plans for her.
But that didn’t stop her from making an awesome video telling her story and encouraging the rest of you to get out there and get it done:
Pretty fantastic, eh? A little bit more about Corrine, in her own words:
I’m 56 and I love to ride my bike. I met you and Lisa at the 2013 Leadville which I managed to finish in under 13 hours but not 12!
This summer, prior to my bilateral knee surgery, I did the Tour of Fairbanks (a 4 day,5 race series), my best 200 mile time trial race yet in the Fireweed making my stretch goal of under 12 hours, and I finished the Smoke ’N’ Fire, a 440 mile bikepacking mountain bike race in Idaho in 4 days and 8 hours, just 3 weeks before my surgery — and I didn’t come in last!!
I may not be fast but I’m persistent and I wanted to really wear out my knees before I replaced them!
Be sure to wish Corrine speedy continued recovery, so we can hold her to her commitment of winning the “57yo, recently recovered from bilateral knee surgery” division next year.
[Full Disclosure: SRAM and ENVE both provided products for this bike build]
It’s kinda killing me to not have been there for the build, but Racer’s been nice enough to have been sending me photos as he built it up.
Spoiler alert: it’s gorgeous beyond words. Which is why I’m going to show you a bunch of pictures, concluding with the actual finished bike.
When you see it, you will conclude — as I have — that this is a perfect bike, and is in fact way too nice for the likes of me (i.e., someone who has not up to this point ever owned a CX bike at all) to be riding. I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually been too good for a bike I’ve owned. Which is to say, every bike I’ve ever owned is capable of doing things I am completely incapable of.
Really, as a fairly pedestrian rider, I should be riding boring bikes.
But I don’t want to. I love beautiful, light bikes with amazing engineering. I don’t care if I never drive or own a Ferrari; I love that I often get to ride the bike equivalent, and can — by virtue of being pretty darned thrifty otherwise (my car is nine years old) —afford to ride bikes that are just mind-bendingly wonderful.
That said, this bike has taken this conceit to a completely new level.
Specifically, while I have never raced cyclocross (OK, once or twice more than a decade ago) and am terrified to even try it, I am now the owner of what I am pretty sure is the nicest cyclocross bike a person could own.
How will I use such a bike? Well, what a fine question. I’m glad you asked. Here are the uses I currently hope to put this super-dream bike to:
CX Racing: This is the obvious one, but also the one I’m most afraid of. Which is to say, I am afraid that I’m gonna get hurt, due to the fact that of all the humans on this earth, I am the least flexible of all of us. I don’t even know the names of the tendons and ligaments I’m going to put in danger when trying to do a running re-mount of a bike, but I’m sure I’ll learn, once I’m in the emergency room.
Crusher in the Tushar: I love this race (and promise I will finish my writeup of the 2015 version soon). So far, every year I’ve raced it has been on a mountain bike, and every year I’ve watched people just blow by me. For 2016, I hope to set a new PR on what I lovingly refer to as “Fred X.”
Cedar City Fire Road 100K: The Hammer and I raced this Leadville 100 qualifier last year, and I expect we’re gonna race it again in 2016, primarily with the objective of me acting as a domestique for The Hammer (and Lindsey and Ben if they want to join the train). I will be working to get her (or them) into a Silver Corral upgrade. I think it’s entirely do-able, and will be an important part of helping The Hammer get a solo sub-9 at Leadville.
Local Riding: There are a lot of dirt roads in the mountains close to where I live, and they look like they could make for some extraordinary riding. To date I don’t really know them that well. For 2016, I think that ought to change.
A Gravel Grinder? I’ve never ridden a gravel grinder race like the DK200, but let’s face it: there’s a pretty good chance that this may be the most perfectly-suited kind of racing there is for a guy like me. Big miles, not highly-technical. Sounds like me all right. The only reason I haven’t signed up for the DK200 is that it coincides with the Rockwell Relay…and you all know how I feel about Rockwell.
Road Riding: My beloved Tarmac S-Works SL4 is hardly a four-season bike. Fred X should be good for taking out onto the Winter and Spring roads.
Now, with all that said, allow me to invite you on a little show and tell of the Fred X bike build.
First, The Frame
Behold the Felt F FRDX.
This happens to be one of the lightest carbon CX frames you can buy (and it’s available only as a frame, which is exactly what I wanted), but that’s not the reason I bought it (OK, it might be part of the reason). I own a Felt 9 FRD, built using the same Felt “Textreme” carbon layup tech, and I just love the way that frame feels. Oh, and I dig the checkerboard appearance:
Anywhere I can put ENVE on a bike, I do. It’s just that good. Yes, it’s incredibly light, but that’s not the reason why (OK, it might be part of the reason). It’s just full-on bombproof, looks amazing, and feels perfect.
Here’s an interesting little factoid: I have ENVE wheels on six bikes right now (four of which are actually mine). Two of the wheelsets have been on those bikes (the Tarmac and my Stumpy Singlespeed) for three full seasons of riding.
None of the ENVE wheels have ever gone out of true. Ever. At all. Even once. None of the rims have ever had any problems whatsoever, in fact. And I’m not the kind of rider who has one set of wheels for training and another for racing. I use the same ENVE wheels all the time. They just stay strong, true, dependable, and beautiful.
As far as I’m concerned, ENVE makes the best, most beautiful, most reliable wheels in the world. Yep, I’m going with all those superlatives.
So. Check out the wheelset I have for Fred X:
These are M50 Fifties. They’re the same wheels I have on my Felt 9 FRD and the Cannondale F-Si. So yeah, I guess you could say I’m a fan of these wheels.
Why these instead of a tubular wheel? Because I’m a big fan of tubeless, and tubulars are impractical for rides like the Crusher…where I’ve seen more than one person out of the race because their tubulars weren’t up to the terrain challenge.
And don’t worry…I think you’ll see that these wheels didn’t exactly make the bike excessively heavy or anything. More on that later.
I did do one thing kind of new on this wheelset, though. I asked Felt to give me the Pantone colors for the red and blue accents on the frame, and then gave that info to ENVE, which created a custom version of the ENVE decals to beautifully match the frame:
And they didn’t do it just because I’m a much-beloved, award-winning blogger, either. It turns out this is an upgrade ($100) ENVE has available for anyone who wants their already-gorgeous wheels to match their frames to a whole new degree.
Fred X isn’t just rolling with ENVE wheels, though. Here’s the stem (100mm, JFYI):
And then the bars (I went with 44cm, which is wider than I’d go for a road bike, for extra row-ability). And I even added the ENVE computer mount, just to maximize the ENVE-ness of this incredibike.
And from another angle, just because I have it:
And it goes well with Chipotle burritos:
Use the Force
With the new Star Wars movie coming out soon, there’s no way I’m the only one talking about SRAM’s Force 1drivetrain in terms of Jedi-ness, is there?
No matter. The fact is, SRAM’s 1X drivetrains are just killing it.
A lot of people have asked me why I haven’t been riding single speeds lately. SRAM 1X drivetrains are why. They have a quiet, direct feel that is similar to singlespeeds…but you can shift. Reliably, beautifully, every time.
Ooohhhh…it’s all starting to come together:
And you’d be able to see exactly how much of a believer I am in 1x shifting if you went into my garage, where there are currently no fewer than six mountain bikes with SRAM 1x shifting.
Going with SRAM Force 1 for Fred X was an easy choice.
How’s It Look?
By the time it all came together, this is what Fred X looks like:
Oh my. I believe that Fred X is the most beautiful bike I have ever owned.
And here’s how much it weighs:
It’ll be closer to 17lbs by the time I add pedals.
And How Does It Ride?
Here’s the thing: I haven’t ridden this bike. It’s all finished and ready to go…and I’m flying to Michigan.
I feel this problem acutely.
You can bet I’ll be taking this bike out really soon. Too-good-for-me-ness notwithstanding.
Had I time to write Endlessly I would That would, perchance Be more than you would want To read
Alas! My problem runs In the other direction I find myself swamped Utterly
Do not cry! Wipe your tears Away For I have many cool things Which I will post about Anon
For now Just let me say That this Thursday I am flying to Michigan In the company of my twins Where we will be congregating At the Camp Kesem Leadership Summit
There, accompanied by Bill (Who is certifiably insane) And some friends of his I shall ride 100 Miles Of Nowhere And talk to kids there About How to Raise Money For Good Causes Huzzah I shall have more to say About this In the near future Perforce
But today! Before I go and do My day job Which is currently also Kind of bleeding into my personal time (As day jobs sometimes do) I want to show you A few images About which I am pretty Excited
First, I am Pleased to say That trail-building in my neighborhood Continues apace And betimes astonishes me With the money and time Invested into said trails. Consider!
This lovely bridge Connects Corner Canyon Which is already wonderful To Bonneville Shoreline Trail A glorious Vision! Now being realized Within riding distance From home
But wait! There’s more:
Here the Hammer poses Making the new 100MoN jersey Look fantastic She is standing in front Of a tunnel Newly hewn through rock In this selfsame Bonneville Shoreline Trail I tell you This is some good stuff And it’s all close To home
And finally Please take a look At these several images (and one video) Images which no doubt Have portent of new adventures And dangers In store:
I suspect I shall have more To say and show On this matter Quite soon.
A Note from Fatty: Carlos is pretty much a Superfriend of Fatty. And of everyone else he meets. He’s just like that. He’s also the kind of guy who gets things done.
Specifically, he recently orchestrated a $50,000 donation to World Bicycle Relief. I find his attitude and willingness to think big and execute really inspiring, so I asked him to write up how he did this, to share on the blog.
$50,000 Brass Ring
In the middle of my trip home from a long conference week in Las Vegas, I stopped in JFK airport in New York City for my connecting flight to Boston. Five hours on a plane is plenty of time to miss important stuff at work, so I quickly loaded the corporate mail app on my phone.
The first e-mail read, “Hi Carlos, YEF is extremely pleased to inform you that World Bicycle Relief has been recommended to receive a YEF Impact Grant of $50,000!”.
That’s a lot of money.
If you know me, you’ll very easily imagine that I didn’t care who was looking and started dancing for joy in the middle of a very busy terminal.
How It Happened
But let’s rewind a bit. How did this grant come to be? Last year, I found out that Yahoo (my employer) had a fund called the Yahoo Employee Fund (YEF for short). The company describes it thusly:
Founded by Yahoo employees in 1999 with leadership from David Filo and Jerry Yang, the Yahoo Employee Foundation is a grassroots, philanthropic organization that gives Yahoo employees easy and accessible ways to give back to their communities. YEF is funded through employee donations – many of which are matched by Yahoo itself. Employees are then eligible to champion grants for organizations they believe in for groups of representative Yahoo employees to vote on.
TL;DR: employees ante into the pot and then they decide which charitable foundations end up getting the money. There are millions of dollars in said pot and several rounds of funding each year.
Anyways, I found out about this fund and a lightbulb went off. I immediately set up my paycheck to auto-donate a portion of my earnings and I found the paperwork to start applying for grants for WBR.
World Bicycle Relief has been near and dear to my heart since Elden introduced us to them a few years ago. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to donate a few bikes a year since. And even more luckily, I was a winner in one of Elden’s famous “Grand Slams” and ride an Ibis Ripley now because of it!
After looking at the paperwork, the first round of funding we were eligible for was $1,000. I reached out to the amazing and wonderful Katie Bolling of WBR and let her know we had this opportunity. Katie and I filled out the paperwork and applied. It was really as simple as that.
A few weeks later, we were notified we were approved for a $1,000 grant! I can’t express how low-hassle both YEF and WBR made this application process. All I had to do was explain why WBR deserved the grant and talk about how much I love the organization – two seriously easy things for me.
We went through one more $1,000 grant cycle successfully before it was time to apply for the big kahuna: a $50,000 Impact Grant. I got back in touch with Katie Bolling and Tricia Puskar at WBR.
The big difference this time was the even more extensive research the YEF board does into how the funds will be used and the impact that usage will have. After a few weeks of putting the necessary information together and one very close call with the deadline, we were fully submitted for consideration. Now it was time to wait. This was July of 2015.
Back to October and my return from Las Vegas. We got approved. Pure elation was running through my body. Four long months of waiting were over, and we had been selected. Doing my happy dance in the airport looking like a total buffoon.
Doing the math in my head I realized that we’d be able to put more than 250 bikes in the field in Kenya. That’s 250+ students with better attendance, better grades, healthier lives, and more time in their day to do the things they need to do. Thousands of lives changed. I was/am just a little proud that we got this crazy grant approved.
Not So Crazy
Reflecting on the process though, I realized it wasn’t that crazy. The hardest part of it was the waiting. It made me think about how many friends of WBR work for awesome companies like Yahoo. How many people have at least a donation matching program with their empolyer?
My bet is that there are a lot of you out there.
PS: If you’re on Twitter, think about tweeting @YahooEF and @Yahoo your thoughts on the grant. I think they deserve a huge pat on the back!