A Note from Fatty to Locals Who Don’t Want to Lose Their Fitness and Get Fat Over The Winter This Year: Every year, I work so hard to get in shape during the Spring and Summer. And every year, I completely lose it during the Autumn and Winter.
I’m sick of this, and plan to do something about it this year.
Specifically, among other things (which I’m going to be talking about in this blog), I’ve joined Plan 7 House of Watts. Starting in November, The Hammer and I are going to be going to the Orem SBR on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the 5:30pm training sessions. Our intention is to come out of this Winter faster and fitter than we’ve ever been, and Coach Dave Harward says he’s going to make that happen.
You should join us. Seriously, you should.
On August 9, The Hammer and I raced the Leadville 100 (we’ve written a little bit about that event).
The following Saturday (August 16), we raced the Jordanelle Triathlon.
Then we had a week off. Because, you know: recovery.
Then — on August 31 — it was time for Rebecca’s Private Idaho — Rebecca Rusch’s eponymous 90+ mile gravel grinder.
Because, evidently, The Hammer and I had not had enough racing yet.
And yes, I want to emphasize this point: we did in fact plan to race this thing. You see, unlike in 2013 — where I was careful to call my writeup (part 1, part 2, part 3) a ride report — The Hammer and I had an objective: to get her on the podium. And to do the race considerably faster than in the 6:37 we had done it in 2013.
But first, we had some business to attend to.
The Power of a Wig
Rebecca’s Private Idaho is timed to coincide with a big western celebration — called “Wagon Days” in Sun Valley, Idaho. The centerpiece of this a parade, described as the largest non-motorized parade in the country.
I have not verified whether this is accurate. Let’s just trust them on it.
There are lots of entries that look like this:
Like last year, Rebecca’s Private Idaho was invited to be a part of the parade, making it the first bicycle-powered entry ever in the parade. And like last year, Rebecca used her entry to publicize World Bicycle Relief.
Why? Because Rebecca is awesome. And so is WBR.
Robbie Ventura — shown below here on the right — was there in support of Reba, her parade, and all that’s good in the world:
Also like last year, The Hammer and I were invited to come be a part of the parade. The Hammer dressed the part, wearing her WBR jersey:
Having learned my lesson from the previous year (when I did not bring any costume elements at all), this time I came prepared.
Specifically, I wore bright orange compression socks and bright orange Altra Paradigms:
Even more importantly, however, I brought this wig:
Yeah yeah. I know, it’s hard to recognize me, what with me having hair and all. And I’m doing my best to make a wry face and all.
But here’s the thing: That wig gave me superpowers. Clown superpowers.
As soon as the parade started, I was running up and down the street, laughing and shouting. Jumping and clicking my heels.
Dancing. Yes dancing in the street to the tunes the marching band in front of us played.
I had a giant stack of World Bicycle Relief stickers in hand, and anytime I saw a child I would run over and make sure she or he had one. “Stick this on your bike!” I’d yell. “Or your parents’ bumper! Or their fridge! Or their windshield!” I’d say.
I was laughing and clapping. I was honking the plastic horn someone had given me. I was staring and pointing in mock horror whenever the camels (in the group behind us) got too close.
I was not trying to be this way. I was simply being this way. Everyone in our group looked at me in wonder. This is not who I am. Sure, it’s how I write, but in real life I’m pretty low key.
But not during the parade.
Some people need a drink to loosen up and become silly.
Evidently, I just need a wig.
A Note from Fatty: Did you want to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere…but found that you missed the registration? And now you’re finding that the jerseys are maybe the coolest-looking things you’ve ever seen? And you happen to wear a size Large in Men’s? Well, Felix Cohen actually ordered three Hundred Miles of Nowhere kits — and is now finding that he and his friends aren’t going to be able to do the ride. If you’d like to buy one of these never-used, never-worn, actually-still-at-Twin-Six jerseys from him, he’s selling them for $70 each. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he’ll arrange to have the jersey sent out to you.
Note that this gets you just the jersey — not the 100 MoN swag box, and no donation to Camp Kesem. So I strongly recommend that in order to make your jersey legit, you go over and make a donation on your own. I’ll leave it up to you how much it should be (but $25 – $50 feels about right).
For the past several years, The Hammer and I have one-upped our annual 100 Miles of Nowhere effort. One year, we rode up and down Suncrest, over and over. Another year, we rode up and down the Alpine Loop, over and over. And last year we rode our mountain bikes up and down the Bearclaw-Poppy trail, over and over. After which, I said:
As for next year, I’m thinking somewhere flat.
Now, it would have been easy to ignore this warning from the past. To — with the pain of the event from the previous year safely behind us — go ahead and pick out a brutally steep route.
But we didn’t. We kept our word to ourselves. We went back to the basics: to what The 100 Miles of Nowhere is really all about.
- We made the course short. Just a hair short of four miles long, in fact.
- We kept the course close to home. In fact, we were probably never more than a mile from home, the entire day.
- We made the day silly and fun. Considering the fact that the 100 Miles of Nowhere is a fundraiser for Camp Kesem — which I think the twins have nicely shown is incredibly silly and fun — I think that making this event be silly and fun needs to be an absolute top priority.
Here, Let Me Show You
To be honest, I’m a little bit amazed at how much story I could tell about our 100 Miles of Nowhere (which we held a week early because The Hammer has a 50K Trail Run race on 10/18, and I’ll be busy being in charge of the twins’ birthday), in spite of the fact that it was just a four-mile loop . And, unable to help myself, I probably will tell a fair amount of story — with quite a few photos — about the day.
But first, how about if I show you a complete lap, sped up 12x courtesy of Instagram’s Hyperlapse:
I should note here that it is no easy thing to sit upright while riding a Time Trial Bike (yes, for all but a few laps, we rode our Shivs…and we wore our Prevail aero helmets), riding one-handed and holding a phone in one position for the fifteen-minute duration of the lap.
About the Course
The Hammer and I started and ended our 100 Miles of Nowhere at home, at 8am on Saturday morning. For 23 of the 26 loops we did, we rode around the big four-mile loop you see below:
As you can see, there’s a line that bisects the loop — we took that shorter loop whenever we wanted to drop by our house to shed clothing, get a drink, or pick up some riders to join us for a lap.
There are a couple other oddities about this loop — like the little jut out in the bottom left corner.
I will explain these in good time.
For now, I just want to draw your attention to how ridiculous the fully-zoomed Strava of a small section of the ride looks.
Please, let me assure you: I did not ever swing a corner out as wide as the Strava track would suggest. For that to happen, I’d have to have been flying at an irresponsible rate of speed and blowing through a stop sign in order to get a really high number to flash on the radar speed limit sign just after that corner.
Which would be really fun, but that — as I mentioned before — would not be something I would ever do even once, much less sprinting to see if I could get that radar speed limit sign to flash above the speed limit (i.e., 25mph) each of the 26 times I passed it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The weather was cold when the day started, and so the below photo is in fact not us at the beginning of the day.
No, we were each actually wearing a lot more at the beginning of the ride. We didn’t get down to the short sleeves and shorts ’til we were forty miles (about 2.5 hours) into the day.
But you have to admit, we make an adorable couple. And I’ve got to say that these 100 Miles of Nowhere jerseys look incredible this year.
And I have another confession: While we put our race numbers on our road bikes and had every good intention of riding our road bikes, we started on our Shivs, and wound up staying on them for about 92 of the 100 miles.
Hey, the course was flattish (about 240 feet of climbing per loop…which does add up by the time you’ve done 26 laps) and we just weren’t inclined to swap out bikes.
Even so, we did go out of our way to get photos taken of us on our road bikes, with number plates attached and everything.
The Hammer’s looking good, as always:
And I really like this photo of me, for a couple of reasons. First, because it makes me look like I’m going faster than I actually am. And, more importantly, because because the way my arm naturally obscures my early-mid-October paunch.
That’s not an easy thing to do. And as autumn progresses, it’ll become less and less easy. Trust me on this.
Highlights from the Day
There’s something meditative about riding the same loop, over and over, through the course of a seven hour day (six hours of actual riding). You get to know the road better than you’d ever have believed possible, for one thing. As The Hammer and I rode one particularly bad section of pavement — it started out as chip seal and has been patched numerous times in numerous places — we slowly figured out a line that didn’t rattle our brains out or suck us into a pothole.
Likewise, we noticed the progress of the neighborhood, seeing people on different parts of their walks or runs. Anytime we saw a person a third (and definitely a fourth) time, we’d get a big grin from them. They knew we were up to something strange; no doubt they had fun trying to figure out what it was.
As we rode by one of the city parks (Alpine, UT has no grocery store, but it has three city parks), we saw people inflating giant person-sized spheres.
On the next lap, we saw kids playing in them. A birthday party, probably.
By the time we came by a couple more times, the kids had moved on.
“Let’s see if we can try them out,” The Hammer said. So we rolled up to the guys who were standing by them, and asked if we could see what these things were like.
“Sure,” they replied, and even agreed to film us. I’m the one in the red:
During the climb for each lap, we’d see this sign:
This is no idle sign, either:
“I bet I can get that camel to kiss me,” The Hammer said during one of the laps.
So she held some tall grass through the fence and sure enough it came over to take it — and The Hammer leaned in.
This is as close as she ever got. Which is fine with me. No, on second thought, I’m not even sure I wanted her to get that close.
Sprint for the Speed Limit
As we rounded the third corner of the loop about two laps in, The Hammer asked me, “Did you see what I just did?”
I had to admit that I had not seen it.
“There’s a speed limit sign we just passed, with a radar pointing at us and showing what our speed is,” she said.
And so for the next 24 laps, as soon as we came around that corner, we’d take turns sprinting toward that speed limit sign:
The Hammer’s best — as far as the sign was concerned — was 26. The best I could ever get it to show was a 29.
And then I looked down at my GPS as I went by…and discovered it was reporting me as two miles per hour faster than the radar detector did.
“That thing is ripping us off,” I complained. “Robbing us of at least two miles per hour.”
Which, you have to admit, would be a very odd thing to say to a police officer if you were pulled over for going faster than the speed limit.
Amazingly — and perhaps because they had noticed we were enjoying their other radar sign so much — halfway through the day, the police erected a second radar speed limit sign on our loop.
And this one was midway through our downhill straightaway, on the best pavement of the entire course.
Now, I don’t want to give anything away or confess to any crimes, but if you’re curious what my top speed was reported by that sign, you could probably check my top speed on my Strava report for the day.
The pictures, video and text in this post have already made it abundantly clear I’m sure but let’s get explicit: Alpine, Utah is a very small town. And I love that. I chose that.
And when you live in a small town, a new store opening is a big deal.
And a donut store opening is a huge deal.
And a donut store that already has a cult following throughout the rest of Utah, due to its general awesomeness is an incredibly huge deal.
So now you know what this little detour in the loop is for:
Yep, at noon we headed over for our first big break, to get The Hammer an apple fritter (her favorite). As for me, well, I’d probably just get myself an assortment box.
Just look at that sign!
But when we got to the door, there was just one problem:
Sure, I suppose a donut shop has the right to be closed by noon on a Saturday. But — and I say this as someone who has wanted donuts at literally every hour of the day — is it wise?
So we took our custom elsewhere. Specifically, we went next door, to the Sub-Zero ice cream shop.
Yes, that’s right. Alpine doesn’t have a grocery store, but we have an ice cream shop next door to a donut shop (which, if signage is to believed, is also going to be an ice cream shop).
Mmmmm. Waffle cones:
This is my kind of town.
This was the first time I had ever had Sub-Zero ice cream. The gimmick is clever: They mix the cream and your mix-ins in their liquid state, then use liquid nitrogen to flash-freeze it into ice cream, complete with awesome fog effects. (I apologize for not getting video; I was too busy being transfixed.)
The Hammer and I shared a mocha-almond ice cream in a waffle cone.
Clearly, we have both gone to our happy places. Also clearly, my happy place looks pretty darned dorky.
Stop. Hammer Time.
As the video at the beginning of this post clearly illustrates, our loop has four stop signs. Multiply that times 26 laps, and you’ve gotta lotta stoppage.
I say this, of course, by way of implying that we did in fact stop for all 104 stop signs. Because we did. Because we are both very law-abiding examples of law-abiding-ness to the rest of the world. Or at least to the half-dozen people who got this far in this race report (hi Mom!).
And besides — as further proof that we stopped at every single stop sign, as if that were even necessary — if we didn’t stop at every stop sign, how would I have gotten this picture of The Hammer at this stop sign?
More to the point, though, you might be wondering why I took this picture of The Hammer with this stop sign.
Well, here’s why:
Yep, an MC Hammer reference graffiti’d onto the stop sign at Main and 100 South in Alpine, Utah. Who’d have expected that?
Furthermore, who’d have expected that anyone would still be making MC Hammer references in 2014 (or whenever these letters got affixed to the stop sign)?
Even more furthermore, is there a single city in the United States that does not have at least one stop sign similarly altered?
The mind boggles.
You should know that stop signs with nearly two-decade-old pop culture references are not the only peculiar and wonderful things we passed twenty-six times during our 100 Miles of Nowhere.
We passed this tree, for example:
“Who would paint a tree that way?” you might wonder. “That would be terrible for the bark.”
And then I would have to correct you, because that tree isn’t painted. That is colorful twine (yarn? string?) wrapped around the trunk of the tree in someone’s front yard.
And that’s all I have to say about that.
Also every lap, I was taunted by some hand-made benches someone had put out for sale:
“We’d be delightful to rest on,” they said. “Just for a few minutes,” they said.
“Wouldn’t you like to take a nap?” they said.
Also, for the final two laps, we picked up The IT Guy, for his first exercise in about four months.
It’s not easy to get out when you’re both working and busy in school.
Also joining us was The Swimmer, stealing my helmet and her mom’s bike clothes:
The Swimmer, too, is busy in school. So it was really awesome of both of them to come spin for a couple of laps with us on what had turned out to be a perfect Saturday for riding.
Around in a loop.
Over and over. And over.
Really, when you think about it, The 100 Miles of Nowhere is a terrible idea. Riding around on a tiny course sounds like a miserable way to spend a day.
But each year I’ve done it, I’ve loved it. I’ve loved how I notice details that I don’t see when I ride a road once. I love how the course fades into the background and the ride becomes just about riding. I love the expressions of people who saw us, over and over, as they wondered what we were up to.
I love figuring out what the course will be each year, and that — so far at least — we’ve done very different courses every year.
I don’t know what we’ll do for our 100 Miles of Nowhere next year. But I’m looking forward to it.
And now, I’m looking forward to your own reports.
PS: Here are our numbers, for those of you who are curious:
A Note from Fatty: Today I’m happy to have my twins, Carrie (left) and Katie (right) be guest-posting about their experience at Camp Kesem this past summer. Carrie (aka “Car” wrote the story; Katie (aka “Couch”) illustrated it
The timing for this story is perfect, by the way, because the 100 Miles of Nowhere (which is a fundraiser for Camp Kesem) gear has just shipped out — you should be getting yours soon!
Our 2014 Camp Kesem Story
Camp Kesem is always the highlight of our summer vacation. It is the thing we look forward to the most as the school year comes to an end. It’s better than Disneyland…or any other theme park.
In Camp Kesem, you are never bored. The games are infinite and the people are fantastic!
Once, our group finished all our scheduled activities, so a large chunk of our group started an enormous game of “Human Knot.” Human Knot is a game where everyone playing forms a circle and grabs two random people’s hands, creating a knot. This game took an astounding two hours to untie.
As the days passed, we all got the chance to do incredible and fn things. These things included things like the zip line:
The Zip Line was awesome — so much fun!
We also got to go on a giant swing, and we had an Ice Cream Cone Challenge, where one person had to stand on a chair and pour ice cream and toppings into another person’s cone.
Some kids didn’t even try to get it in the cone — they’d just pour it all over the other kids’ face!
But our personal favorite activity was doing the talent show. The talent show wasn’t so much a talent show as it was a chance for everyone to perform hilarious things. One boy ate a lemon:
One boy ate a lemon during the talent show. We couldn’t believe it!
Another boy did some sort of really cool-looking robot dance.
I’d like to think that our act was one of the best, though. What we did was sneaky, secret, and…musical.
It all started when one of our cabinets in the green girl cabin pointed out that we had a boy counsellor called “Simba,” and a girl who went by “Nala.” She suggested that maybe for the talent show we could surprise them by singing, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” from The Lion King.
It was an idea we couldn’t turn down.
So we practiced and learned the lyrics. The turnout was great. They were surprised, but they soon started waltzing around the stage.
I think the whole act was funny for everybody.
That isn’t all that Camp Kesem is about, though. Camp Kesem is really about getting away from the stress of the real world. It’s about finding people you can talk to, people who know what you’ve been through.
And altogether, Camp Kesem is magic.
A Note from Fatty: Upon reading my “Open Letter to Co-Workers of All Cyclists,” Dug texted me, saying, “You forgot the part about changing in the parking lot.” I replied, “You’re right, I did forget. But that’s a complex topic and would be a whole ‘nuther letter.”
Dear Co-Workers With Window Offices,
Don’t worry, this isn’t the letter you think it’s going to be. You know, the one where I complain loudly and bitterly about how unfair it is that you have a window office, while I have an interior cubicle adjacent to the HVAC closet with the HAZARDOUS CHEMICALS sign on the door.
No, that is a different letter for a different day. Probably one with a lot of exclamation marks and interrobangs.
This letter, on the other hand, is just a friendly reminder, an explanation, and a request, all made in the spirit of cooperation, improving company dynamics, and interoffice communications. And any other buzzwords I might have missed. Like “synergy,” probably.
Yes, let’s go with that: this letter is about improving departmental synergy.
My request is an easy one. One that you will have no difficulty complying with. It will take little — if any — of your time. In fact, I suspect that you’ll be very glad that you do as I am about to ask.
Simply put, I’d like to ask you, should you ever notice me walking out into the parking lot in the middle of the day, to not look out your window for the next seven minutes.
In fact, I’d regard it as a kindness and a going-of-the-extra-mile if you’d just draw the blinds. So that other people — people less in-the-know than you — also don’t look out the window for the next seven minutes.
Because you are, by nature, a curious person and perhaps now would like to know why I would like you to look pretty much anywhere but into the parking lot for approximately seven minutes, I will explain why this is important.
I feel I owe you that much.
What I Am Doing…And Why
I’m going to be honest with you here, co-workers. Honest to the point where it might affect my Christmas bonus or chances of moving up the company ladder.
Which would be a bigger deal if I actually thought there were any chance of getting a Christmas bonus, or of moving up the company ladder.
The reason I don’t want you to look out that window for seven minutes is because that’s when I’m changing into my bike clothes and heading out for a lunch (or brunch, or mid-afternoon snack) ride.
I know. You probably figured that much out. But still, you might be wondering: why? Why would I be changing clothes, hidden only by my car doors and the vehicle I am parked next to? Why would I not be instead changing clothes in the bathroom, provided by the company for my convenience?
I have my reasons.
First, I don’t like to carry all my gear into the office when I arrive in the morning, because there’s a lot of gear there — enough, in fact, that it might look to a casual observer like I’m planning to spend the night.
And to a more observant observer, it might look like I’m planning to go on a ride during company time. Which I am, but I don’t really want to broadcast that information far and wide.
Further, I don’t want you all to see me leave the office in cycling clothes at 11:30am, then returning at 2:30pm in the same cycling clothes. If you do that, it’ll be way too easy for you to connect the dots as to where I’ve been in the intervening time. Whereas if you see me leave the office at 11:30 in my regular clothes, and then see me at 2:30 in the afternoon still in my regular clothes, I like to imagine that you will suspect nothing.
OK, I realize these reasons don’t exactly relay that I have much confidence in your powers of deduction, but they’re my reasons, and I’m holding tight to them.
What I Do Not Want You To See
During the seven minutes I would like you to not look out your window, I will be changing out of my work clothes and into my bike clothes.
Yes, I will be changing my clothes. In the parking lot. At work.
Don’t worry, though, I will have cleverly constructed a zone of privacy through the medium of parking in a far corner of the parking lot and next to large vehicles. Then, by opening both the rear and front door on the passenger side of my car while slightly stooping, I will have a nicely private changing room, just so long as you don’t look very closely.
That said, I will still be somewhat visible. And I will be changing clothes, moving at a rate that can be accurately described as “comically fast.”
I will strip my pants off in a fluid motion, then very likely hop around at least a couple of times as I fail to get my foot through my lycra bib shorts. Sure, it’s possible that I’ll get them through the first time — I generally don’t have any trouble with this maneuver when I’m not in a hurry, ironically — but I’m quite a bit more likely to fall down.
And you don’t want to see that. Any more than I want you to see it. Trust me on this.
Then, with my shorts on, I will pull off my shirt. This is, more than anything else, the part you do not want to see. Sadly, this is also the part you are most likely to see, due to the fact that my pale skin reflects all available sources of light, and is likely to catch your eye and make you wince.
I apologize for the inevitable afterimage that will be burned onto your retina. It will fade within a few hours. I promise.
Then I will get my helmet and shoes on and ride away, as if nothing had just happened. With your help, we can both share in this charade. And we’ll both be happier for it.
More Things I Do Not Want You to See
Oh, I forgot. There’s a second part to this. Because in a couple hours (or so) I’ll be returning. Happier. Sweatier. And in need of getting back into my work clothes.
Once again, I’d like you to look away for seven minutes or so. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s more important that you look away.
Because I’m going to take an improvised shower in the parking lot.
First, I’ll set up my changing room in much the same way I did earlier in the day. Then, I’ll take a gallon of water I keep in my car and pour it over my head. (Being bald has its benefits, and this is one of them.)
Then I’ll get out an ActionWipe, do some additional cleanup (which I choose to not describe here), and then get dressed.
Then, head held high, I will walk back into the office, confident that I have committed the perfect crime. In spite of the fact that every single person I work with knows exactly what I’ve been doing.
That’s not important. What’s important is my self-delusion, which I can maintain only if you help.
So please, don’t look out of your window into the parking lot whenever you see me walk out toward my car in the middle of the day.
And, while we’re at it, I’d appreciate it if you’d keep the knowing smirks and raised eyebrows afterward down to a minimum.
The Fat Cyclist
PS: Also, please do not call the authorities.
Suppose there were an island in New York, just a quick ferry trip ride from the city. And suppose that island used to be a military installation, but now is abandoned.
What would you do with all the space in these now-abandoned military homes?
The possibilities are endless, no?
The reality — because there is such a place, called Governors Island — is that these spaces are lent to 100 NYC artists: painters, photographers, sculptors, and more.
And then, during the month of September, the whole place becomes an amazing — and free to the public — art fair.
It’s a brilliant, wonderful use of the place, and it’s all run by a few volunteer/artist types.
Like my genius artist sister, Lori Nelson.
She, along with the other good folks at 4Heads.org, are running a Kickstarter to make ends meet. They’ve hit and passed their goal of $15,000, but they could use a little more help.
and since a lot of the incentives for helping fund the Kickstarter are artwork my genius sister created, I’m going to extra-strongly recommend you check out and fund the Kickstarter (which ends Sunday).
For $50, you can get a fine art print of her “Stupid Hair” painting, from the Cryptotween series:
Or the one I picked: “Overbite:”
Or you can get a t-shirt with this very weird squirrel on it:
How odd that this very strange-looking squirrel obscured some of the text. I wonder what it says? I guess we’ll never know.
Oh, here’s my niece, modeling said t-shirt:
She probably makes it look better than you will. Don’t feel bad about that, though.
One last time, click here to go to the Kickstarter.
And have a great weekend.
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