100 KoN Race Report: First-time Viking edition

11.17.2016 | 8:58 am

A Note from Fatty: I’m always excited when I get an outside-the-US 100MoN race report, and I’m always excited when I get a race report from a first-timer. So this report — by Erin B of Trondheim, Norway — is a double-whammy of awesomeness. Enjoy!

100 KoN Race Report: First-time Viking edition
by Erin B  

I signed up for the 100MoN this year after binge-reading race reports from previous years. One would think that this extensive research would lead me to prepare properly for the event, but never fear: there was a significant time lag before the actual race, and I jumped in with a minimum of training and planning.

I should admit now that I am a stronger swimmer than cyclist (most of my riding falls in the “commuting” category), and that the weather in Trondheim in November is quite unpredictable. I had a route in mind: an out-and-back route from my apartment to the ski jump at Granåsen. It’s the flattest route I could think of, has a separated multi-use path, and would allow my support crew to be at home writing his thesis for most of the day. The big question when I signed up was: which bike and which tires would I use?

A few inches of snow made the decision pretty easy: my mountain bike in winter form (studded tires) would be the only safe option. They also made the distance pretty clear: 100 km on soft snow and ice, with the extra resistance of studded tires, is about all this fish out of water would be able to manage.

The only other planned aspect was that I would have to carry out the race in a few stages, since last-minute plans involved a visit from friends at 10am. In an effort to make the most of the day, I headed out on the ice and snow at 8 am, in generally nice conditions (0 degrees C and overcast).

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The starting line…

The first lap was mostly a reconnaissance mission: my extensive planning didn’t include figuring out the length of the course, and I needed to get an overview of the snow and ice conditions on my path. No regrets on the choice of tires: it was going to be a slow slog through softening snow and a few ice patches.

The course started with a short uphill, followed by a small descent, then a long gradual climb, all of which was reversed on the way back. The round-trip turned out to be almost exactly 8 km, and the first lap took about 26 minutes. This was promising: I could get 4 laps in before the visit, and my legs felt pretty good. The second lap brought a bit more daylight, but my feet were already starting to freeze.

The importance of a route near home was never more obvious: a short pit stop was all that was needed to get a few extra layers. I knocked out two more laps as planned, and managed to put on some dry clothes before taking a cozy 4-hour break to catch up with our visitors from Oslo.

I was feeling pretty confident when I set out on the next stage: I was already almost 1/3 done; this would be easy, right?

The temperatures were hovering above freezing, though, which effectively just increased the resistance in the softening snow. There were also a lot of pedestrians out on their traditional Sunday walk during the second stage. None of them did more than stare when I somewhat randomly did a u-turn at the ski jump and headed back in the other direction. I wonder if the reactions would be equally nonchalant elsewhere…

Since my route required 12.5 laps, I decided that it would be good to crank out 5 of them in stage 2, so that the last stage would be a bit more manageable. I enlisted my boyfriend to join for a lap to take a few photos before the sun went down, and tried to pretend that all was still going great. The truth was that my feet were freezing and the second third of the race seemed to be going way slower than the first.

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Nearing the ski jump (visible on the left) in the fading light.

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The multi-use path isn’t plowed, but they do compact the snow a bit. It’s better for the bike than all the salt on the road, anyhow!

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Time to turn around again. The snow from last winter is used for the cross-country ski trails in case we don’t get enough early snow.

I struggled through the end of stage 2 as darkness fell, dreaming about some warm food and extra pairs of socks. (Note to self: learn how to eat before you start hallucinating about food.)

A few plum gnocchi and 30 minutes curled up in a wool blanket sufficed to get me more or less warmed up, but they certainly didn’t make it appealing to head out the door into the dark (and colder) evening. I had a back-up plan which involved completing this project with some swimming, but I decided to try to tough it out. After all, riding to the pool and back would require almost half of what I had left anyhow.

Once I finally got myself bundled up and out the door, lap 10 wasn’t too bad. I had a promise of company for lap 12, which was just enough motivation to get through lap 11 on my own.

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Photographic proof that I got back out the door for the last stage (with extra clothes).

My main concern during the last trip out to the ski jump was where the turnaround point would need to be for the half-lap. My GPS watched seemed to be a bit unsure: the laps were somehow getting shorter, and I was almost a half km behind where I thought I should be. Moving the turning point meant I might need to go up an extra hill, and I was less than enthusiastic about that.

In the end, I squeaked by without the extra work, and finally came back into the warmth for good after 5 hours and 45 minutes of riding.

In total, the distance was 100.5 km, with 988 m of climbing (if we trust my watch). Interestingly, it also claims that the elevation of the ride as a whole decreased over the course of the day.

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But I’m going to stick with that estimate anyhow.

 

100 Miles of Nowhere Race Report: Winner of the Mostly-True Division

11.16.2016 | 9:43 am

A Note from Fatty: I love Nick’s race report, and applaud his use of profanity as a metric for distance. I swear, my readers have completely outstripped me, creativity-wise.

A Mostly True Race Report
by Nick Charles

I’m not a cyclist. I’m a bike rider. I’m not even an athlete. My idea of “getting serious” about doing 3 marathons in 7 weeks was to switch from light cigarettes to vaping and to go from beer to fentanyl patches. But I know when November comes around, it’s time to do the 100 Miles to Nowhere.

There’s just one problem: I’m tired. And lazy. I’ve run a lot and the idea of riding 100 miles the weekend after the New York City Marathon when all I want to do is sleep and drink Wild Turkey 101 is just too daunting. So I asked if I could write a race report about the New York Marathon instead because I didn’t think I had it in me.

Fatty said “Sure! But make it funny… or else.”

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So I ran the marathon in… well, who cares. I finished, got my medal, had my post race beers, and got back to the hotel. I sat down, poured myself 3 fingers of Blanton’s and started to write.

The words flowed from my fingers and eventually, I wrote 4500 words, discussing the expo, my amazing outfit, musings on Robert Moses’ vision of the city after I’ve explored his urban planning experiments on foot to why the human body is only able to eat so much energy gel before it goes on strike and funny race signs. After all, if you have a guy holding a big sign that says “I’m having an affair and want a divorce” you’re practically daring me to run up to you and scream “No! Don’t leave me! I can change!”

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So I felt the afterglow of a chapter well written, hit send, and crawled into bed feeling smug at the talent of my writing. A few hours later, I was rudely awakened by a text message. My booze addled brain grabbed my phone and looked at the unknown number from the 801 area code.

“This is Fatty. What the H is this???”

I could tell he was really mad.

“Is this your idea of a race report? Why is it 70,000 words less than my race reports? How come you didn’t take photos of runners and give them nicknames? Why are there no graphs or schematics? How come it’s not in 10 parts? Why are there no selfies?”

I had to think of something, quick. I thought back to the good ol’ days of the 100MoN when Fatty did it on trainers while watching the HBO show Deadwood. At least I thought it was Fatty. Or Deadwood. So I suggested I do a Deadwood-related 100MoN. “Great idea. Even better save. Make it funny.”

While we were chatting, I decided to ask – “Hey, you’re a slender guy – why do you call yourself the Fat Cyclist anyway? I mean, I’m way fatter than you are (but equally handsome.)”

“u even irony bro?”

For those who don’t know, Deadwood was a show on HBO about a small businessman named Al who had to deal unwanted government intervention in the free marketplace in 1870s South Dakota and the hijinks that ensued.

The show also had the occasional line of salty language.

So on my flight home from the Big Apple, I had to come up with something. 100 miles is far, but I’m lazy. So I had this great plan: I would ride 100 miles, with the caveat that every time a profanity was used in the show, it was worth half a mile.

Which meant that two hundred workplace-inappropriate words would get get me my 100 miles. I figured that since watching TV on my road bike while on the actual road might lead to an accident on the road, I should do it indoors.

And since I wanted to ride while I eat a donut or 4, I’d better pick my gym’s indoor bike.

So I loaded up a few episodes and went to work. The recumbent bike allowed me to work as little as possible while I started riding with my notepad in hand, ready to tick away the miles. 90 or so minutes (and around 22 “indoor bike miles”) into the ride, I decided to stop and have a beer and see my progress.

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Look at that: 50.5 miles* covered. I stopped to admire myself in the mirror because I was so fast. And handsome. After blowing myself some kisses, I hopped back on the bike.

After two episodes and around 110ish minutes, I was at 61.5 miles*. That’s 30 something miles* an hour. I’m amazed at how fast I am. Is this the sort of joy that Tour de France riders feel when they go downhill at lightning speed? Endorphins? I have them.

Damn I’m amazing.

Two hours into a ride is where the attention starts to go. Sure, my feet can pedal, but I start to drift. And even though I’m watching a great show, I’d rather be doing something else. I make for a lousy endurance athlete*. But I’m determined to finish this 100 miles*. For Al and Seth and Trixie and Mr. Wu and….

I mean for Fatty.

But I figured one more episode to go, and then I can go reward myself. But my buttocks aren’t meant to sit on a chair for more than 2 hours, and my wise idea to wear running shoes was making my arches cranky. So I kept on powering through and finished the third episode and was thinking I totally crushed my 100 Miles of Nowhere age group. I pulled out my notepad and looked: 99.5 miles*.

I WAS SHORT! AAAAH!!!!

Did I miscount? Can I even count? So so frustrated.

I needed a break. I also needed a cigarette. Man, that first taste of nicotine hits your lips and it feels amazing. Wait. I was supposed to finish my 100 miles*! And where did my pants go?

I went back to my apartment, loaded up another episode of Deadwood, and went back upstairs to the gym. Someone else had taken my* bike, so I had to use one of those fancy bikes that people use for spinning class. It intimidated me. It didn’t even have a martini glass holder. I felt like a caveman kicking a luxury automobile. This was all foreign to me.

I strapped my feet in and fast forwarded through the credits — don’t got no time for titles! Give me profanity so I can finish! And less than a minute after episode 4’s credits, I got my 200th profanity. I DID IT! I got 100 miles*! Now it’s time to celebrate.

Total riding time? 170 minutes and 28-ish bike miles. But 100 Deadwood miles. But I was missing something. Something that would complete a proper Fat Cyclist Race Report(tm). I’m no Tolstoy like Elden, but I had an idea:

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A pie chart.

See you in 2017.

The Bean King: 100MoN Race Report, by Martin Bunge

11.15.2016 | 10:18 am

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A Note from Fatty: I love all the 100MoN race reports that come my way, but there are certain people I always especially look forward to hearing from, based on their previous 100MoN efforts. Martin Bunge is at the top of that list. He brings an inspired nuttiness to his efforts, whether he’s riding a square mile of gravel road in rural Iowa over and over in the dead of night, or riding 111 repeats of a riverside bike path…in a Mr. Incredible costume.

This dude is my hero.

And this year, his 100 Miles of Nowhere effort…well, my jaw figuratively dropped when I understood what he set out to do — both because of his perfect and beautiful interpretation of “nowhere” and because I immediately grasped how difficult it would be (something he did not realize, apparently).

Folks, Martin is a 100MoN mad genius. I hope you enjoy and appreciate his story. 

The Bean King
by Martin Bunge 

I hadn’t given much thought about what I might do for this year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere. 

Two years ago I rode 25 laps around a one-square mile section of dirt and gravel roads—at night.

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I hallucinated seeing a hyena on the road. Quite memorable.

Last year I rode 112 laps along the Iowa River in Iowa City—while wearing a Mr. Incredible costume.

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As far as cries for attention go, the costume was very successful. And it didn’t chafe.

So what to do this year? Obviously I don’t want to go backwards by doing something lame, but there are limits to how far I can escalate the zany factor of my 100 MoN rides.

What to do?

I was pondering this as I drove through rural Iowa on a sunny October afternoon. In August I’d bought a new Salsa Bucksaw, a full suspension fat bike, and had just finished riding our local mountain bike trails and was heading home. 

I was thinking about how those big tires rolled over just about anything they came across and how scary-good the traction was on the leaf-covered trails when I drove by a freshly-harvested soybean field. 

02 Wide open spaces

Soybean fields look pretty smooth from the road.

A plan was hatched: Why not ride my fantastic, full-suspension Bucksaw on one of those bean fields? I could find a relatively flat field and have a ton of fun just riding randomly all over the field until I hit 100 miles. What says 100MoN better than riding nowhere in particular?

Nothing!

My plan was complete.

Maybe I should have researched this plan a little more thoroughly before I started shooting off my mouth about riding 100 miles in a bean field. This is a lesson I should have learned years ago but haven’t. Just goes to show you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. (Right, Leroy?)

I found a really flat field, 90 acres, owned by some good friends who agreed to let me “borrow” it for a day. I had to schedule my ride for Sunday, November 6th because they’d be doing field work the following weekend—the official 100MoN weekend. 

I had an overnight commitment on the 5th so I was going to have to rush to get to the site early if I was going to take advantage of what little sunlight there is at this time of year. 

November 5th was also the end of Daylight Savings Time which was a problem because the sun would be rising an hour sooner and I wouldn’t be able to start at sunrise as I’d planned.

01 starting the day
My Bucksaw and I are ready to roll.

Play the hand you’re dealt, right? So I made it to the field by 8 am, unloaded the bike (33 lbs. of awesome sauce), and proceeded to pedal across the field.

What the heck? 

Bean fields are not smooth. In fact, they’re downright rough. Those big combines leave HUGE tire marks—it was like riding washboards on steroids.

03 Bumpy
Hey! Who drove on my dirt!

And soybean stubble could easily be used stop speeding vehicles at security checkpoints.

After about 20 minutes—1.5 miles—I gave up on the random riding thing and started riding between the rows, hoping the ground between the stubble would be smoother. Between the trash (that’s farmer talk for the plant material combines spit out after they collect the soybeans) and grooves left by the combine, my progress was even slower.

04 Really Bumpy
Disillusioned. Bean fields aren’t smooth.

This was no longer fun. 

Trying to find something that resembled “smooth” was completely futile. As I searched for a useable line, I noticed tire tracks running perpendicular to the direction the crops had been planted. It turns out they were made by a large sprayer earlier in the summer.

These tracks were narrow, maybe six inches wide, but they were much smoother than anything I had been riding up to this point, so I decided to ride from one sprayer track to the next, zig-zagging my way through the field.

05 Sprayer Tracks
Sprayer tracks. Much better, relatively speaking.

I figured that by the time I rode all the tracks, down to the end of the field and back to my support vehicle, where an ice-cold Pepsi was waiting for me. It’s good to have something to work toward.

I’d head down one track, listening to the bean stubble crunch under my tires, and struggling to stay in the groove left by the sprayer. Suffice it to say I didn’t hold my line very well. But what I lack in technical skills I made up for in perseverance. 

07 Still smiling
Three miles under my belt. Still smiling.

The plan worked fairly well for the first 20 or so sets of tracks but eventually the sprayer’s grooves were obliterated by combine’s tracks. I was back to getting beat up by the washboards and crunchy crops—and riding really, really slow.

06 Sole survivor
A hardy bean stalk survived the combine.

By now I’d ridden 20 miles and it was time for my reward: a peanut butter sandwich and Pepsi. It took me over three hours to ride those 20 miles. It was time to come up with Plan C. 

As I massaged the pain from my palms and burning quads, it occurred to me that I was burning a lot of matches blazing trails through the crop stubble and rough terrain. If I was to have any chance to finish this, I needed to abandon my plan to ride willy-nilly over the field and stick to a trail I could ride for 80 more miles.

Over the next ten miles I did just that, riding over the same track, wearing down the bumps and vegetation. This was when the ride went from “kind of fun” to a test of my determination.

I completed mile 40 sometime after 2:30 pm. It was pretty obvious I wasn’t going to be able to finish 100 miles before the sun set. BUT I might be able to complete a metric century, but even that wasn’t a sure thing.

Back and forth I rode. Each lap was approximately a mile. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how many miles equal 100 kilometers. In my younger days I ran 10K races almost every weekend. My recollection was they were 6.6 miles in length. My new goal was to ride 67 miles.

09 My route
My route. Began the day riding an aimless route, then switched to riding the sprayer tracks (the horizontal lines) before giving up and riding up and down the left side of the field for 40+ miles.

The miles started to add up and around 5 pm I had completed 60 miles. Only seven to go. I don’t know what possessed me, but I decided to check my phone to see just how many miles equal 100 kilometers. Turns out it’s 62 miles and change. Wow! I only had two more laps to go! 

Sadly, this was the high point of the day.

My final two laps went by quickly. I struggled to dismount the Bucksaw and chug another Pepsi. I’ve never felt so glad to finish a ride.

12 Time to rest
I’m smiling as the sun sets on my 2016 100MoN adventure.

Even though my day had just 728 feet of climbing elevation, I was spent. I felt stronger after completing a 150-mile gravel ride in August. 

11 Speedy
Lots of climbing and speed.

Some things I learned: 

  1. No matter what it looks like from the road, farm fields are NOT smooth. 
  2. Even with a fat bike, dirt makes a terrible riding surface. 
  3. A 33-pound fat bike doesn’t roll nearly as easily as a road bike.
  4. Nine hours on a fat bike will wear you down
  5. You might consider training a little bit before you tackle something like this.

90 acres. No crops. No trails. No roads. No traffic. No plan. 100 miles? No way. No time.

In so many ways, that bean field beat me, but I also managed to come out on top, as the winner of the 100 Kilometers of Nowhere – Nowhere Division. 

10 Done
A metric century!

What will I do next year? If there IS a next year…

100 Miles of Nowhere, Polar Bear Edition

11.14.2016 | 10:23 am

A Note from Fatty: Congratulations to everyone who’s ridden (or is going to be riding) the 2016 100 Miles of Nowhere! I’m really excited to start posting your race reports and stories. 

As a reminder, please email me (fatty@fatcyclist.com) your stories with “100 Miles of Nowhere” or “100MoN” somewhere in the subject line, so I don’t lose it among all the other email that piles up on a daily basis.If you are going to have a video as part of (or entirely) your race report, you just need to upload it to Youtube or Vimeo and let me know what the URL is; I’ll take care of embedding it. 

Let’s get started!

100 Miles of Nowhere: Polar Bear Edition
by Corrine L. 

I’m excited to present Corrine L’s really terrific 100 Miles of Nowhere report, which is both an extraordinary riding effort and a terrific (and inspiring!) story, told in video.

Enjoy!

The Real Problem

11.8.2016 | 11:36 am

I know, I’ve been gone and haven’t said why. It’s just been work: we ship a new version of a product Thursday, and I’m busy. You know, to the extent that I’m working late, working early, and working weekends. 

But I wanted to write a little something today anyway, so you’d know I’m alive and stuff.

Plus, I have a story to tell.

Last Sunday

The Monster moved out into an apartment of her own a few weeks ago; the hour-long-each-way commute to school every day was wearing her down.

The practical result has been that we now see her when she needs groceries or laundry done or a bike repair. Or when she misses Duke (everyone instantly falls in love with Duke, buckets of slobber notwithstanding). 

And, importantly, we see her once in a while when she decides to ride with us instead of with some of the boys in her fan club.

That’s what happened last Sunday.

The Beginning of the Ride

But here’s the thing. when I talk about The Monster’s “fan club,” what I really mean is that she’s been riding with guys from the U of U Cycling Team. Which is to say, The Monster has gotten a lot faster very quickly, as she’s been riding with skinny, fit, young men.

So it should be no surprise that, just like when we did our 100 Miles of Nowhere, The Monster shot off the front right from the beginning, with The Hammer and me deep into the red zone.

Zone 9, to be precise.

I looked over at The Hammer with a big smile and said, “So is this how it’s gonna be today?”

The Hammer didn’t respond. She was focused on not losing The Monster’s wheel.

I laughed again, getting a good sense of how this day was going to unfold. Three family members, three competitors, a beautiful Sunday morning on perfect singletrack close to home.

Awesome.

Bomber to the Bottom

By the time we got about halfway up the Mercer Hollow climb — a mile of fun new singletrack just about two miles from home — things had settled down and the three of us rode together to the Peak View parking lot.

At which point, without further discussion, The Hammer and I yielded to The Monster. Because we were about to go down Rush, and there is no question whatsoever who is fastest on descents.

She was waiting at the bottom of Rush, both feet on the ground, looking well-rested when I arrived.

“It’s nice to take it slow sometimes,” she said, off-handedly.

“Yeah, I know,” I replied, “though I’m a little bit disappointed that I had to stop halfway down and swap out my rear derailleur.”

The Hammer Strikes Back

The Hammer arrived ten seconds later and — without stopping — made the turn toward Potato Hill and began riding at what I’d like to call “95% of race pace.” You know: that speed you go when you want to hurt people, but also want plausible deniability when they accuse you of trying to hurt them.

I couldn’t help myself: I started laughing. We had gone at this pace on this climb exactly one day earlier, after we had caught some strong kid on a bike…who had pulled off the trail to yield until he saw it was a woman about to pass, after which he had pretty much killed himself to never let us by.

I would have laughed at how much alike The Hammer and Monster are, but I had to reserve all my breath for holding The Hammer’s wheel.

The Monster, doggedly, held onto mine.

Stranger Danger

And then, an unusual thing happened: a guy caught up to us. Now, I’m not saying that’s just nuts or anything — once in a while, someone will catch up to us and want by. 

But usually the guys who catch us are skinny college-age kids on high-zoot hardtails.

This guy, from what I could see, was about my age (in his fifties I’m guessing), and about my build (not huge, but not gutless). 

And he was, from what I could tell with my quick backward glances, riding a big ol’ full-suspension bike.

This aggression will not stand, man,” The Hammer did not say, because she’s not a fan of The Big Lebowski. That’s OK, though, because I thought it for her.

The Hammer went into full-on attack mode, in the way that made me fall in love with her in the first place (not kidding here: her riding and running intensity are incredibly attractive). I stayed with her, but it was a near thing.

The Monster — and this stranger on a bike — couldn’t quite hold us and fell back as we rode Ann’s trail to the Maple Hollow climb.

“Where’s Melisa?” The Hammer asked — all innocence — when we got to the Maple Hollow trailhead. 

“Well, you dropped her when you attacked that badass grandpa on the full-suspension rig,” I said. 

The Monster arrived — evidently, she had finally dropped the fast guy — and said some sharp words to her mom about how you don’t have to treat every ride like a race, and we began our mile-long climb to the Maple Hollow summit.

This time, I got out in front and picked a nice, reasonable pace that would keep us all riding together. By which I mean, of course, I went just below my barf threshold.

We rolled up to the top of the steep mile-long climb completely smoked: our Sunday/funday ride had turned into a slugfest, somehow. I was loving it.

The Punchline

And then, one second later, this guy rolls up on his full-suspension bike. “You guys are strong,” he said, taking off his helmet. 

He didn’t look particularly worn out.

He continued, “It’s really rare that I don’t just catch and pass every rider on the trail. I’m impressed that you held me off.”

“In fact,” he concluded, “you guys were going so fast that I very nearly had to switch out of econo-mode.”

PS: Yes, this is a true story. And after he said this, we talked some more. His name’s Eric, he loves mountain biking, and he had heart surgery a year ago. His Specialized Turbo Levo makes it so it’s possible for him to be back on the trail. I think it’s awesome that e-bikes exist and make it possible for people to do stuff they love. And also, Eric let me borrow his bike and try riding it up a trail. It was…surreal.

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